WHITBY Hockey Club ladies were close to defeating current Durham Clubs league leaders Richmond at home on Saturday.
They knew this would be their toughest match yet based on statistics of the team they were facing.
Whitby fielded a 14 strong squad so they could roll players on and off the pitch giving optimum play and efficiency.
Whitby have never played this team so did not know how the game would go or who the key players were.
Richmond opened strongly, making it evident straight away that their forwards were a very organised and fit unit.
Whitby defence soon identified the key players and Jacqui Livera had a lot of work to do at right defence with the Richmond left attack who made some punishing runs down the left wing.
Zara Noble at centre defence held strong with penetration through the circle.
Beth Sanderson at left mid left the right attacks standing with her defensive skills and set up some lovely passes for the forwards.
Richmond got an early goal which was a wake-up call for Whitby who had to fight back.
Not long after Whitby were awarded a short corner resulting in Nicola Kent scoring.
Richmond responded quickly with Alex Bagnall having to do a lot of work at left defence – the circle got scrappy but Whitby were unlucky when Richmond were awarded a short corner and scored their second off a well-worked short corner.
Whitby are not a team to let their heads drop – quite the opposite – the fight and grit is what keeps them going.
Jesse-Mae Richardson joined the forward line after 15 minutes and Jess Hogarth came on to secure left mid position.
Sarah Thompson worked tirelessly chasing down players along the side line.
Just before half-time, Whitby found Nicola Kent unmarked and she took a superb ball straight through the middle from the half-way line to take on the keeper – this was a very skilful and calm goal from her for 2-2 at the break.
After a half-time team talk Whitby went in more determined than ever – they were putting a huge team effort in and wanted to make their mark against this leading team.
Lisette Vincent-Jones and Georgie Allgood rolled on and off on the right wing and tried hard to penetrate the Richmond defence.
Jo Braithwaite and Emily Webster worked hard on the left attack but things were very tight and they were constantly looked for holes in the Richmond defence to reach the attacking circle.
They eventually found Nicola Kent who once again scored for her third of the match but Richmond quickly responded with their third.
This game was so evenly matched that all players were feeling the pressure. Michelle Myers rolled on for Sarah Thompson and held strong at right mid.
With only 15 minutes to go, Whitby had to pull out all the stops – a well-earned short corner found Beth Sanderson passing to Lisette Vincent-Jones to make it 4-3.
Whitby’s spirits were high but they could not rest until the match was over. Richmond then scored their fourth to make the game even.
This final result was not a surpise at both teams were evenly matched.
This was an outstanding performance by Whitby.The huge effort put in was evident. Charlotte Jackson played her best match yet as goal-keeper.
Player of the match: Alex Bagnall
Whitby 4 Richmond Roses 4