The women’s hockey team’s most recent fixture was a must-win match against Edinburgh’s second team. In fifth place in the Scottish BUCS first league, the girls were at risk of relegation (albeit sitting six points above last placed Edinburgh threes) and being joint on points with their opponent meant winning would put them three points clear and improve their negative goal difference. After a well-deserved 2-0 victory the girls move into fourth place, above both Edinburgh teams and joint on points with third-place Strathclyde, behind only on goal difference.
Going into the match against Edinburgh, it was clear only a win would suffice in taking the girls out of the relegation zone. Play started equally, with much of the game being played in the centre of the pitch and when the ball did make it to either end, it was not for very long. As play moved into St Andrews’ half, a long corner from Edinburgh could not manage to find the back of the goal and play returned to Edinburgh’s half. A great run from the Saints saw the opportunity for a goal, but there was no one there to receive the ball.
After a foul and Edinburgh free hit, the Saints countered with a ball back up the pitch once again but could not turn it into a goal. Lots of activity in the Saints’ circle saw two shots from Edinburgh, neither of which came to fruition. With play moving towards the centre of the pitch, the Saints managed to clear the ball into Edinburgh’s half and a great ball was defended well by Edinburgh and play headed back up to the other end of the pitch.
A period of possession for Edinburgh was spent in the Saints’ circle, without managing to score. Play was intercepted by the Saints which saw movement into Edinburgh’s half defended well, putting the ball out of play for a Saints ball in. Played back into their own half, the girls did well to find space and maintain possession. However, a foul on Edinburgh saw play moving once again into St Andrews’ circle. A poor shot from Edinburgh saw them miss another opportunity to go ahead.
St Andrews, although starting off as the stronger side, were starting to lag behind Edinburgh, unnecessarily giving away chances. As the ball moved back into Edinburgh’s half, some good pressure from the Saints saw Edinburgh struggling to regain their lost ground.
After a foul by Edinburgh, the Saints were awarded a free hit and some hard work from Edinburgh’s defence meant they managed to clear the ball out of the danger zone and up to the opposite end of the pitch. This gave Edinburgh the opportunity to have two attempts on goal; the first was excellently saved by the keeper, the second stopped by the Saints defence.
A strong clearance from the Saints and the ball moved back into Edinburgh’s circle once again, but the girls could not manage to score before the whistle blew signalling half time. A slightly uneventful half ending 0-0. With Edinburgh looking like the stronger side coming out of the first half, it did not seem likely that the Saints were going to be able to secure a win. Thankfully, I was proved wrong.
The girls started the second half in much the same way as the first, looking once again like the stronger out of the two sides, with the majority of the first few minutes taking place in Edinburgh’s half. An early short corner for the Saints (the first of the game), a vital opportunity for a goal, was defended well by Edinburgh and the score remained 0-0 with the Saints’ first real chance missed. It was seeming the half time talks had done nothing to end the stalemate at University Park.
A hiccup from St Andrews gave Edinburgh the upper hand in the Saints’ circle by giving away a short corner which luckily Edinburgh also couldn’t convert into a goal. When play moved back into Edinburgh’s half, the Saints managed to win another short corner. This time a great ball in meant that the girls finally managed to score a great goal through the keeper’s legs and the girls were 1-0 up – a win that they would need to maintain to save themselves from the looming threat of relegation.
More strong defending from the Saints gave away another Edinburgh short corner that they again could not convert into a goal, but did lead to an injury and substitution for the Saints. Play resumed with a strong clearance from the Saints and the ball edged in to Edinburgh’s half. A further short corner for the Saints, that everyone hoped would amount in a two-goal lead, was saved by Edinburgh and the ball went out again for the Saint’s third short corner of the game.
A great shot from the Saints was saved well, but confusion in Edinburgh’s circle saw the girls managing to get another past the keeper, putting them 2-0 up and giving them a crucial two goal lead, which would have been difficult to match at such a late stage in the game.
A free hit for Edinburgh intercepted by the Saints resulted in a hopeful shot that soared over the bar as the Saints looked to further increase their lead. Play moved back into the Saints’ half with Edinburgh pressing hard, but not doing quite enough to penetrate the Saints’ defence. As play continued in the Saints’ half, their defence was proving difficult to break and the girls were playing much better than they had done in the previous half.
Another short corner for Edinburgh that again could not be converted thanks to some strong pressure from St Andrews, led to another injury and substitution for the Saints. A free hit from the girls just outside Edinburgh’s circle could not quite manage to get through the defence, Edinburgh trying not to let a third in as the final whistle blew.
Despite ending the first half looking like the weaker side, after recovering well the Saints’ performance massively improved throughout the second half amounting to a well-deserved 2-0 victory. The win enables the girls to not only improve their negative goal difference and gain three points, but also to prevent Edinburgh from taking any points from the game – leaving both Edinburgh sides at the bottom of the table.