The battle for the small Merlins squad began before we stepped on to the pitch. In the changing room an inspirational speech was delivered by coach Kerry Smith with the focus on each team members’ belief in winning the game. We said before the game we believed we could win it, so we did, despite what later came at us.
With only one sub, Merlins were greeted at the pitch by 18 budding students ready for a run around. Luckily for us they hit freshers week a bit too hard. Merlins began the game with such a strong and accurate passing game that had us feeling so comfortable keeper Siobhan Cowie was wishing she brought a seat.
The first goal for Merlins came from the perseverance of Mo Hardie putting pressure on the Stirling defenders. A swift interference saw Mo take off like Usain Bolt to take the keeper on one-on-one, the composure Mo showed as she played the ball round the keeper was applauded by all. Lara Mowforth soon followed her lead after a break down the left side of the pitch into the D by Amanda Walker resulted in the Stirling keeper having to make a save. The save wasn’t strong enough to beat Lara however, as she took the ball round a defender only to plant it in the back of the net on reverse.
Soon after saw a blip in concentration when Merlins were quickly introduced to Stirling’s new Argentinian player who left our defenders jaws hitting the ground as her rapid stick skills took her past numerous yellow shirts only to reverse hit the ball into the top left of the net leaving keeper Siobhan thinking she got too comfortable. The ten minutes that came after were as tense as the England Wales rugby game which followed that night. Some interesting football skills from a Stirling striker at top D only to be placed in the goal was awarded by the inexperienced umpire who then received the wrath of the pelicans to overturn the goal. ♯dontmesswiththepelicans.
Halftime Score 2-1 Merlins
The second half proved a better performance for the girls in yellow as the, once again, new squad began to gel. A second goal was scored by Mo Hardie when the ball was played from our own 25 up the pitch touching nearly every Merlins stick in between. Stirling began to put pressure on the Merlins defence who started to give away short corners. Fortunately, the well-drilled PCD team, consisting of Kerry Smith, Amanda Walker, Lauren Tanner and our own rocket Zoe Sinclair, kept the ball out of the back of the goal despite a couple of Argentinian drag flicks coming our way. Soaking up the pressure, Mo Hardie found her hatrick with a controversial goal upsetting the Stirling side even more.
As the yellows fought to keep a three goal lead, we were doing whatever we could to stop Stirling entering the D, unfortunately one challenge resulted in a green card for Amanda Walker meaning a team effort was needed to defend with ten. Defender Louise Selkirk decided the best way to even out the teams was to take one of their players out of the game with a ball to a Stirling players jaw from five yards away. (It actually came off the Stirling players stick)
The final moment of the game saw the yellows back defending some critical corners during which the commitment from defender Lauren Tanner could not be faulted when she took a ball to the face, fortunately she was wearing protection.
Final Score 4-1 Merlins
Man of the Match – Mo Hardie
Dick of the Day – Louise Selkirk