Some argue that bogey teams do not exist and yet it would seem that for every sports team, there are teams and indeed pitches that they dread having to visit. For Scotland’s Football Men you could say it’s the Faroe Islands, for Celtic you could say it’s Inverness Caledonian Thistle and for Merlins hockey you could say it’s their yearly trip to Garscube to play Glasgow University. Despite Merlins being the better of the two sides on paper, coming away from Garscube (a pitch with more lines than a scrabble board) with a full 3 points has proved to be a difficult task in previous seasons and this visit would prove no different.
With the help of new kit the girls, looking angelic, smart and full of promise, were more than up for the challenge presented by a young, enthusiastic and large Glasgow Uni squad. The skill on show in both teams was obvious from the get-go but it was Merlins who enjoyed a vast majority of the possession and were applying the early pressure. However a gutsy Glasgow Uni defensive performance as well as chances not going Merlins way prevented the girls from getting the breakthrough and the bit of luck they deserved. Despite the frustration the girls continued to work hard until half-time but as a result of some incredible saves by the opposition goalkeeper the Merlins girls were kept at bay resulting in a scoreless draw going into half-time.
After a positive half-time talk the girls approached the second half confident that if they continued to control the game and maintain the level of possession they had in the first half, with a bit of patience and a bit more movement in attack the goal would eventually come. And boy did they come close…
Half time score 0-0
The second half was not too dissimilar to the first in the sense that Merlins continued to dominate possession, were creating chances upfront and despite all efforts continued to struggle to get that crucial breakthrough. After a couple of penalty corners went awry, the closest chance came after some skilful individual play from Amanda Walker saw a reverse sweep inside the D to the right post where instead of bouncing off Clare McWilliams’s stick into the back of the goal, the ball instead rolled along the line which somehow Glasgow University managed to clear…a sitter even Fernando Torres would have been proud of.
Towards the end of the second half, as a result of the frustration of not having yet hit the backboard, Merlins started to lose the shape and possession they had maintained throughout the game resulting in Amanda Walker being sent her marching orders for two minutes. This allowed Glasgow University to threaten Merlins D and was unquestionably the most nervous period of play for Merlins but thanks to a couple of wonderful saves from Siobhan Cowie, most specifically a save with her right hand as well as great composure from the defence Merlins were able to come through that period of pressure unscathed.
Merlin’s did everything except get the ball over the line and as a result the game finished as a scoreless draw. Although far from what the girls wanted it appears that teams elsewhere in the very competitive National League 2 also had a less than successful day leaving Merlins within 2 points of the top of the table. Obviously frustrated at not coming away with the full 3 points, the girls are encouraged to keep their heads up, learn the lessons and look to the games ahead…there is still all to play for in National League 2.
Final Score 0-0
Man of the Match - Lara Mowforth
Dick of the Day - Clare McWilliams