Despite an inexplicable Ipswich defeat in the first weekend, Chelmsford Ladies 1s arrived at the second weekend of Division 1 confident and composed.
‘Oh how the mighty can fall.’
Due to a serious thundersnow flurry training on Thursday had been cancelled. Yet the team remained optimistic, sitting happily in 5th place in the table. Oh, how the mighty can fall. Or indeed the goalkeeper, as Chelsey took a tumble during the warm-up…an encouraging sign.
The first game against Leicester was an extreme test of mental strength for Chelmsford. Reminiscent of the flurry of snow seen during the week, a flurry of flicks similarly prevented Chelmsford from reaching their goal. In the first half, 3 flicks were awarded to Leicester by the umpires and 2 found the back of Chelmsford’s net. By the end of the first half, Chelmsford found themselves 4-1 down, redeemed only by Emily Davies’s short corner finish (soon to become known as the Davies family special).
True to form, a number of balls went whistling past Leicester’s goal, with Chelmsford failing to finish any in the second half. With the kicking back now in position, Chelmsford upped the intensity. Once again, the odds were not in their favour. Another penalty flick to Leicester. Stepping up to the line, almost donning a helmet and with an action plan in mind, Hayley Heggie was quickly reminded that a goalkeeper could in fact be brought back on for a flick. Phoebe Menear returned to the pitch but unfortunately could not keep the ball out. The final score: 5-1.
Disheartened but not defeated, Chelmsford had a long break to regroup before the 6:30pm match against Bristol Firebrands. The 3 game break was testing at times: a frustrated Philli Went momentarily lost her cool with the gates at the leisure centre, whilst inside, forkgate resulted when Mother Davies forgot the forks for the 2nd week running. However, by the time twilight arrived, Chelmsford were ready to prove their worth.
Once again, umpiring decisions seemed to go against Chelmsford in this game. Certain that her glove was actually another foot, many decisions went against Hayley Heggie. In absence of video feedback, the umpires would be advised to see the x-ray revealing Heggie’s broken finger for future reference.
Despite this, Chelmsford took the game early. Kate Taylor stepped up and finished the first goal on behalf of Georgia Herron after she had struggled for 5 minutes with the goalkeeper. Firebrands struck back however and by half time the score stood at 1-1. A beautiful goal from Alex Went was disallowed. But thanks to Sophie Green’s advancing attack, (3D skills), and perfectly timed pass, Julia Butterworth helped Chelmsford take the lead. Following coach Kirkham’s advice, Butterworth lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. And surprise, surprise, it worked. Final score: 2-1.
After a mixed bag of results, Chelmsford finished Day 1 confident that they had secured their place in Division 1. Back to the Holiday Inn for a dip and dinner, the whole team slept soundly on Saturday night.
The Davies Special
Day 2 arrived and Chelmsford returned to the leisure centre and returned to form. The first game at 10am was against Brooklands Poynton and the scoring opened early thanks to Kate Taylor. 2 more came from a Davies special, this time the younger Davies, Georgia, stepping up to the plate. 3-0 at half time, Chelmsford was clearly the dominating side due to some composed team play. The second half was slightly more tense as Poynton went to kicking back but Chelmsford held onto their lead and the game finished 3-1.
The weekend had begun with Chelmsford’s main aim being to avoid relegation. After this win, and unexpected results from other matches, the Ladies 1s realised that relegation was out of the question. Promotion, however, was not. Prem League, Wembley, Europe…the route to Tokyo 2020 was unfolding before their eyes.
However, the team would have to wait until 5pm to pursue promotion. In the meantime, more Davies drama unfolded over the “nice pasta”, hotspots, and of course, another missing fork. What felt like 3 days later, Chelmsford finally faced St Albans in their final match.
Blinded by St Albans’ luminous orange vests and inhibited by their own rollneck away shirts/fleeces, Chelmsford conceded 2 early goals. But, displaying some of the best play of their season, the L1s fought back and in the 29th minute, Georgia Davies finished a brilliant team goal. 2-1 to St Albans. Kicking back Hegs was called up once again and donned yet another layer. Promotion was out of sight, but Chelmsford were determined to end the season well.
The LONG barrier
Yet St Albans had not given up either and attacked aggressively against Chelmsford’s empty goal…empty apart from the invincible figure of Heggie the Hero. Shots were fired in from every angle but her sharp stick skills and sacrificial stance stopped any crossing the line. Harking back to her rounders career, captain Heggie formed the longest of long barriers regardless of the risk to her life and limbs. A risk duly rewarded when Philli Went drove down the right side of the pitch and slotted the ball into St Albans’ net in the final minute to bring the score to 2-2.
At the end of a dramatic weekend, Chelmsford secured a 3rd place finish in Division 1, showing that last season’s promotion was duly deserved. The whole team worked relentlessly and everyone proved their worth. Special thanks must go to coach Glenn, manager Sam and cameraman Mark, as well as the support squad of parents for all their hard work and encouragement. Further thanks go to Nick Robinson, our incredible photographer, for giving up his time to support the team. His brilliant shots can be found on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2jS7cg0
Anxious to dominate again next season, training will start again once Hayley Heggie has been pieced together again.