A huge effort after many disruptions to the Premier Squad in their first game back after the Christmas and New Year break saw them narrowly take victory by 6 goals against a much improved Leyton side.
Hucclecote’s week began with confirmation that both Sam Cook and Becky Vaughan were still injured, Sam Perry away on holiday and to complete the worry, Sarah Adams would be unavailable due to a chest infection and a family illness. This was soon followed by the news that Captain Jack Gabriel was a question mark due to fighting off tonsillitis.
With 5 members of the squad potentially unavailable the services of Lauren Brooks, newly selected for England U.17’s and Michaela Iffil, newly selected for British Universities were called in.
With a lean squad of 8 which did include their Captain, Hucclecote’s journey to Essex saw them panic slightly when they realised as they hit the M25 that their kit had been left in Swindon! However, after contacting Leyton, the away side turned up trumps and arranged for a set of brand new kit to be loaned to Hucclecote. And with one car diverting to find the nearest shop to buy shorts, Hucclecote arrived in time and very appreciative of the support shown by the Leyton side.
The start of the game saw Hucclecote initially take a 3 – 1 goal lead although Leyton soon hit back hard and began to find their rhythm with the game going goal for goal. Allison & Gray at GS/GA respectively scored well netting 12 out of 13 shots during this period. Leyton GS however was also on form and positioned well allowing them to sneak 1 goal ahead at quarter time.
Beveridge at WA had to come off court with a muscle injury and the Hucclecote side were re-organised allowing Michaela Iffil to make her first debut this season into the Centre. In a well umpired game, that was highly contested , both sides still continued goal for goal although Hucclecote’s defensive unit with Barrett, Gabriel and Brooks began to contain Leyton and certainly restricted the number of attempts during this quarter. Hucclecote scored just one more goal than the Leyton side to equalise the score to 22 each at half time.
Iffil’s speed work through court made a big difference and alongside this she defended well to turn over some well timed interceptions . Linkages with Brennan at WA and the two shooters improved as the game progressed and with the defence once again working tirelessly, and with Gabriel and Brooks offering great support through court, Hucclecote for the first time in the game began to edge ahead.
Leyton were not prepared to sit back and it was a tough encounter during the final 15 minutes which saw Leyton claw back the score to within 2 goals again. However Hucclecote’s overall experience and determination not to lose the top of the premiership slot saw them contest all the way, and with Gabriel and Barrett putting immense pressure on to the Leyton shooters, some key misses saw Hucclecote take 5 clear rebounds enabling the attack to take the ball to go. In line with this Michaela Iffil once again stole two intercepts during the final 15 and in her debut game earned herself the Player of the Match with Hucclecote taking the final score to a 40-34 victory. Whilst it was a messy game at times, what it showed was true grit and a squad who work continually for one another.
Coach Gilly Salter was really pleased with the result, and the hard work and great effort that the squad put into the game.
Thanks to Andrew Brooks for driving and being on the team bench giving support, and to Barbara Warburton Team Manager.
Squad:- R. Allison, G. Gray, O. Beveridge, N. Brennan, M. Iffil, L. Brooks, J. Gabriel (Capt), R. Barrett