Gillingham Anchorians Ladies 1st XI this week travelled to Bromley to play Bromley and Beckenham Ladies 3s in a game rearranged from earlier in their campaign. The day was beautiful and the start time was anybody’s guess but Anchs warm up was positive and, despite being let down on the day by their only substitute, they were ready to face the game.
A’s started by far the stronger team, despite shifting their usual formation a little. Sarah Hopkins and Tina Hamer were dangerous in the BromBeck D and came close a couple of times, making the goalie work hard for her team. Meanwhile, Rachel Rawson supported them from high midfield as Noelia Lopez (in her last appearance) and Hannah Bennett drove the ball down the wings with strength. With such a strong attack, Sarah Watkinson was able to push up, with Laura Hopkins holding the more defensive centre midfield role. Watkinson and Hopkins put dangerous balls into the D and were switching play well, making them a dangerous threat to the home side. BromBecks were reduced to mainly counter attacks which were dealt with well by Lucy Morgan, and Emma Harris out wide, with Heidi Hadfield holding the deep defensive role. Sonia Houlker made some crucial saves in goal coming out to meet the attack head on.
With this much pressure something had to give and it all gave at once! Anchorians won themselves a short corner which Hadfield slotted in with ease. Minutes later, after a tactical defensive misjudgement, Bromley and Beckenham equalised and half time was called at 1-1. As is becoming a slightly worrying habit, Anchorians sat back in the second half and it was Bromley’s time to pile on the pressure and although they held up for a period, Anchorians eventually gave in and, at a short corner, Houlker saved the first shot only for the rebound to go flying into her net. Anchorians picked up there attack at this point but it was too little, too late and the game ended 2-1.
Anchorians played well, particularly considering they had ten players (and a wheezy one!) and were playing a team with a healthy winning record so far in the league. Player of the match was awarded to Hannah Bennett for her strong attacks up the left wing and special was given to …?
- Bromley and Beckenham Ladies 3s – 2
- Gillingham Anchorians Ladies 1st XI – 1
The final game of the first half of the season saw Anchs entertain local rivals Holcombe. Holcs paid Anchs the ultimate compliment by sending a side comprising of two national league players and two of their 2nd xi, so Anchs knew they were going to have at their best in order to get anything from the game.
Following arguably their worst warm up of the season, Anchs started the game at 100mph. They should have been at least two goals up but a mixture of decent goalkeeping and poor finshing saw the game remain goalless. Half way through the first half it was the visitors who took the lead from a well worked short corner. This goal seemed to galvanise Anchs who dominated the rest of the first half and soon found themselves level with a good finish through the Holcs ‘keepers’ legs from Callum Harris.
The second half saw both sides have chances. Midway through the second half Joe Byrant somehow scrambled the ball across the line and Anchs were two one up. Excellent goalkeeping from Darren Richardson and outstanding defending from Gary Jackson, Andy White and Mark O’Brien ensured victory for Anchs. Glen Rawson was also unfortunate to put a penalty flick wide of the post with the ‘keeper well beaten.
Having lost their long unbeaten run against Burnt Ash the week before, Anchs made the short journey down the A2 to play local rivals Gore Court.
Anchs were pleased to have both Lovely and Andy White back in defence and the team talk was positive and focused on playing basic hockey and ensuring that chances were taken. However it was Gore Court who started the brighter of the two teams. Following an awful stick tackle, Gore Court took the lead from a short corner. The ball clearly hit the Gore Court’s player back stick before crossing the line, but somehow their umpire claimed he did not see this from one yard away. In fairness to him he was consistent in giving every decision to the home side during the game! However this goal woke Anchs up and for the rest of the half they dominated. Goals from Joe Byrant and Gordon Thomson soon had Anchs in the lead and in all honesty it should have been five by half time.
The second half followed a similar pattern. Lacky and Mike Lindley controlled the middle and soon a wonderful reserve stick strike from Joe Byrant put Anchs further into the lead. Anchs did switch off for one minute in the second half and as a result did concede a very soft goal, giving Gore Court a chance of getting back into the game. However Anchs made sure this didn’t happen with goals from Gordon Thomson and the returning Callum Harris. A good three points that gets Anchs season well and truly back on track.
Gillingham Anchorians Ladies 1st XI, this week, faced bottom of the table Blackheath and OEs. Anchs had the advantage before the game had even started with Blackheath only able to bring 10 players, one of whom kept disappearing to be ill and their usual centre back in goal! Anchs used this advantage from the off and the pressure was on Heath almost without reprieve throughout the first period of play.
Noelia Lopez and Lucy Morgan were strong in their attacks down the right, with Heidi Hadfield, Laura Hopkins and Rachel Rawson in the middle to help ensure the ball was always threatening Blackheath’s D. Down the left, Emma Harris and Hannah Bennett worked well together and were able to push high with Emma Strangleman holding the back. Upfront, Sarah Hopkins, Tina Hamer and Rosa Hargrave worked hard and had a lot of opportunities with more than one goal line scramble.
With the endless pressure from Anchs, it was only a matter of time before their effort was rewarded and Emma Strangleman put away a perfectly worked short corner to become the ladies 1st XI leading goalscorer. The second followed shortly after with Sarah Hopkins finding a loose ball in the Heath area and slotting it calmly between the keepers legs. As a results, Anch went in at the break leading 2-0 with Sonia Houlker in goal not having been tested.
The second half continued much as the first had finished. Anchs still pushing the Blackheath defence and giving the visitors little chance to find a way back. However, this time round, Anchs just couldn’t find the backboard. Despite several short corners, numerous shots flashing dangerously past the post and Rawson in a couple of goal line scrambles, A’s just couldn’t push their lead to three. That’s the way the second half was destined to finish as the final whistle blew 12minutes early due to a Blackheath head injury. Anchs had worked hard and pushed high as a unit and earned their win, although it could have been a much greater score line. Special went to Emma Strangleman who, after months of wearing her contacts in the wrong eyes finally realised that the R and L on the boxes probably were relevant and proceeded to slip in the middle of the game over nothing, whilst stationary. Player went to Noelia Lopez who battled hard throughout. Next week they play a rearranged game against Bromley & Beckenham.
- Gillingham Anchorians Ladies 1st XI – 2
- Blackheath and OEs Ladies 1s – 0
The Men’s 2nd XI ended 2012 with a 3-1 victory at home to bottom side Deal. However, it was a far from convincing performance. The first half was possibly some of the worst hockey the Gillingham outfit has produced this season. An atypical inability to retain possession, being second best to many 50/50 balls and some indiscipline delivered a 0-0 scoreline at half time. Indeed had Deal been more accurate with a string of penalty corners Anchs could well have found themselves down at the interval. Deal did have the ball in the back of the net on one occasion, but the goal was disallowed due to the ball not moving 5m before being delivered into the D. Chris Verrall probably had the best opportunity of the half for the home side but the Deal goalie made a good save from Verrall’s flick.
A reshuffle at half time and a few home truths delivered in the team talk ensured that Anchs came out stronger in the second period. It was not long before they were in the lead, Paul Gray converting the first penalty corner of the half with a rocket shot into the bottom corner which left the Deal keeper with no chance. Anchs grew in confiidenece but a turnover in possesion in the Deal half and a quick transfer up the pitch saw the visitors equalise. This seemed to galvanise the home side as Anchs started to play how they know they can. The ball speed increased, accuracy improved and possession was retained. Anchs secured another penalty corner which was worked to the right, Paul Gray shot appeared to be on target, but Ben Selby was tacking no chances and tipped in from close range. Anchs had another great opportunity shortly afterwards as Gary Jackson broke free down the right, slipping the ball back into Richard Brewer’s path at the top of the D. Brewer unfortunately could not connect properly and left the goalie with an easy save. Anchs continued to press and it was with a sense of relief that they added a third towards the end of the game, Selby again being on hand to finish from close range.
So 4th place in the league at the mid-season break represents a good first half of the season following promotion. The most pleasing aspect must be the development of the younger players with Harry Banfield, Owen Hamer and Chris Risby now all well established at this level.
Gillingham Anchorians ladies 1st XI don’t seem to be having much luck as far as pitches go, at the moment. On 24/11/12 they played Marden Russets at home. The girls played their best hockey of the season, but unfortunately the match was abandoned 40 minutes in due to the persistent rain causing a flooded pitch. They had been leading 2-0 with Rachel Rawson and Emma Strangleman scoring the goals. The replay will take place later in the season when Anchs will be looking to finish as they started this game. This week they received a call from Old Bordenians on the way to the game to learn that the pitch was frozen and push back was being postponed for a half hour in the hope that the pitch would be playable.
Fortunately, with the help of some dedicated club members, Bordenians managed to get the game going at the later push back time. Both teams had a shortened warm up but it was Anchs who got the better start. They forced the ball deep into Bordenians territory and put immense pressure on the home team’s players, forcing mistakes from 16s and keeping the play where it would cost Bordenians the most. Sarah Hopkins and Abby Atkinson, on their first team debuts, did well upfront alongside regular Tina Hamer. However, the game soon settled into a more end-to-end affair and the two sides were well matched.
The Anchs defence were under pressure now, as much as the Bordenians players and Emma Strangleman, Lucy Morgan and Emma Harris did well to keep calm, make the tackles and ensure that the cleared ball was played safely to an Anchorians stick. Hannah Bennett and Lauren Bremner worked hard in their wide midfield roles to try and get the ball back to the Anchs attack. However, most of Bordenian’s attempted play was coming through the centre of the pitch where Heidi Hadfield, Sarah Watkinson and Laura Hopkins were on hand to force the opposition out wide. After a period of attack, Bordenians managed to open the scoring, after a few short corners (some a little dubious), they slipped the ball into the otherwise impenetrable goal of keeper Sonia Houlker.
After half time, Old Bordenians stepped up their attack but the Anchorians defence stepped up to match and better. Harris and Morgan put in some crucial tackles out wide and Strangleman made some superb interceptions (including one 3 foot in the air!). But the truly outstanding performance was that of Houlker who denied Bordenians several crucial chances and was solid in the face of both the ‘big shots’ but also the pinball, close-quarter play. Anchorians were strong but slipped into their ‘default’ role of defending and rarely threatened the Bordenians goal in the second half. The exception was one excellent free hit by Hadfield, which Hamer almost put into the opposition net but was thwarted by some good work from the keeper.
Anchorians can take a lot from this game and know that they must go into the next with a more attacking mindset. They made Old Bordenians work hard for their result and weren’t far from taking some points for themselves. Player of the match was given to Houkler for an exemplary display of keeping and special was awarded to Mrs Bennett who asked “Is Tina playing in defence now?” only to find the teams had, in fact, switched ends for half time! Next week Anchs play Blackheath and OEs at home.
- Gillingham Anchorians ladies 1st XI – 0
- Oldbordenians ladies 1s – 1
Anchs travelled to top of the table Burnt Ash on Saturday for what they knew was going to be the toughest gamew of their whole season. Burnt Ash are scoring goals for fun and hadn’t conceded many prior to the game so Anchs knew they were in for a battle. Illness cost Anchs two of their starting team but following a good warm up and a good pre-match chat, Anchs went into the game feeling confident.
The first half was in all honestly a complete disaster for Anchs. They sat back and showed far too much respect to their opponents who were happy to take full advantage. Despite some good defending from OB, Wookie and Ben Selby and good goalkeeping from Daz, it was the home side who deservedly too the lead. At this point Anchs heads seemed to drop and by half time Anchs were four down. Two well worked short corners and a tap in from the unmarked centre forward from one yard out meant Anchs had it all to do in the second half.
After a frank and honest team discussion at half time, the real Anchs came out in the second half. Pressure was put on Burnt Ash for the first time and in all honesty they didn’t know how to cope with it. Anchs soon had a glimmer of hope as Gordon Thomson put the ball in the back of the net. Following this Anchs had some good pressure but were unable to grab a second goal which would have surely got them back into the game. Ash scored their fifth from a short corner, which saw Daz/ Wookie make a good initial first save between them to keep the drag flick out but unfortunately the ball dropped to the Ash forward who couldn’t miss from a yard out.
Lots of positives from the second half will need to be taken into two local derbies in the run up to Christmas.
The Men’s 2nd XI returned to winning ways after suffering a heavy defeat last week, with a 2-1 victory over Folkestone. The side showed considerable changes to the previous week with quite a few members of the club suffering a sickness bug.
Anchs were put under pressure from the start and at times were second best to some 50/50 challenges but although Folkestone enjoyed sustained possession they could not create any clear opportunities with Anchs defence provoing resolute. Iain Rawson, in his frst game at this level since returning from injury, was particularly successful in preventing the Folkestone forwards from creating clear cut chances. A re-shuffle in the Anchs midfield saw Gary Jackson paired up with Richard Brewer and their experience soon began to gain control of the game. Folkestone also changed tactics and started to punt the ball forward for their forwards to chase but the Anchs defence remained unruffled.
Anchs forwards in turn began to exert more pressure on the Folkestone defence and were soon forcing mistakes. One of these led to the first goal as Owen Hamer intercpted a weak pass out of defence and slipped the ball to CJ Verrall on the top of D. Verrall doesn’t miss those kind of opportunities and Anchs were in the lead.
The second half continued in similar fashion with Folkestone having most of the possession but Anchs defence in the main clearing their lines. Anchs were indebted to keeper Karl Thomas for a double reflex save to keep Folkestone at bay. However, the visitors pressure eventually told as they equalised from an acute angle. Anchs made another couple of errors but one was neatly tidied up by Jackson and in all honesty Folkestone should have taken the lead from the second. That slip seemed to galvanise Anchs and from then on the defence, marshalled by Neil Byrne, regained it’s composure. Anchs continued to attack down their right with the ever improving harry Banfield proving the outlet on many occasions. Before long Verrall and Hamer carved out a great opportunity which was illegally kpet out by a Folkestone defenders leg. There was a little uncertainty as the umpires conferred but ultimately the penalty stroke was given and Brewer dispatched it in style to give the hosts the lead.
Anchs closed the game out but it was a very close call. The final whistle brought a sigh of relief and 3 well deserved points.
A 5-3 victory, made captain Neil’s first visit to his former club a dream trip.
Joel Divers’ second goal of the campaign help contribute to Anchs gaining a vital 3 poionts to take them only 2 points behind league leaders Blackheath.
Keep this form up and surely Anchs will reach the top spot!