Invicta 11 - 3 Polytechnic
Frustrating. We'd had a good few weeks of training prior to this weekend, and were only missing the two South African Chrises from an otherwise strong squad; coupled with the fact scoring in the first phase had come fairly easily and was spread throughout the team, this was a result, and moreover a performance, that we didn't see coming.
Invicta travelled to Lancaster with only 7, albeit strong, players, and as such had a clear strategy to slow the game down. Initially Poly managed to deal with this tactic, and with 2 minutes of the second quarter remaining went into a 3-2 lead. However, from then until the final whistle the team failed to find the back of the net, and conceded another 9 goals in the same time. The team lacked the gumption that had served them so well in games in the first phase, and suffered with as heavy a defeat as they have had in recent seasons.
After a solemn post-game discussion between the team, we resolved to put it down as a blip, and to use the result as a wake up call. We concluded that the best way to prove to ourselves that this was simply an anomaly was to perform strongly the following day.
Team Northumbria 8 - 11 Polytechnic
Buoyed by the return of Captain Chris, who had admirably made the early morning drive up North after missing Saturday's game because of his sister's wedding, the team were biting at the bit to get in the pool and prove their point. On Saturday, Team Northumbria had taken a Division 1 scalp by beating Bristol, and were full of confidence. The scene was set for an exciting game.
We've concentrated hard on our defence this year, and when it all comes together it's tough for any team to breach us. In the first two quarters it did all come together, and the only goals conceded were from two very contentious penalties - both conceded in the corner with the player swimming away from goal - and a third from a man-down. What was more encouraging was that the team rediscovered their virility in attack, and were finding the net from all positions. However, as we pulled into a 7-3 lead the team were guilty of either nerves or complacency, and let a commanding performance slip into a shoddy mess. Some of the previous day's passing and shooting reared their ugly heads, and it led to a very frantic third quarter in which the teams shared just 2 goals between them.
Rattled and knocked out of their rhythm, the Poly suddenly found themselves pegged back to within a goal mid-way through the fourth quarter, and the previously water-tight defence was leaking heavily. Thankfully, the gumption and fight that had been so evident throughout the first phase, returned in the nick of time. The team composed themselves and scored a couple of goals to no reply to see out the game for a victory which was very well deserved, and needed.
Given results elsewhere from the weekend, and the manner in which the team came back and learned from Saturday's disappointing performance, we're still in a very strong position. The next weekend, in Watford on 14/15 January, will be pivotal. We play both Penguin (13:00) and Sheffield (16:45) on the Saturday, and would really appreciate any support. Have a great festive period, and hopefully see you in the New Year.