HOCKEY: Setback in Long Sutton’s push for a top-two finish

Long Sutton
Long Sutton
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Long Sutton ladies first team suffered a setback with a 2-0 defeat away to second-placed Cambridge City 3rd.

They arrived in good form, looking to continue their push to finish in the top two.

Before the start of this game, the destiny was in their hands – win their remaining four games and the goal would be achieved.

Cambridge City were only two points above Long Sutton who were without skipper Leanne Woodhead.

Right from pushback, Long Sutton knew it was going to be a long afternoon.

Within 30 seconds of the start, the expansive movement and fast stick work of the home side led to a flick being awarded after Lisa Baker tried everything to prevent a goal from the first strike of the match.

There was very little she could do as the ball ricocheted from a stick up her body down to her feet as it headed for the back of the net.

Up stepped Cambridge to take the lead, only to be denied by a stunning left-hand save by keeper Lorraine Wallis as she flung herself horizontally to push the ball away.

This first moment in the game set the pattern for the remainder.

Cambridge were relentless as they pushed forward in waves of sustained pressure.

The Sutton defence of Baker, Tania White, Jo Bland and Gemma Parr – along with the inspired Wallis behind them – repelled all attempts on goal.

The midfield of Leah Goodley, Charlie Leuty, Emmie Gittings and Louise Southgate were being run ragged but they never gave up.

Lyn Tancred and Connie Gittings up front became isolated as Sutton struggled to get forward momentum.

As the first half went on the introduction of Lauren Cooper and Rachael Gadsden as squad substitutes kept the energy levels up.

An injury to Parr with a pulled hamstring was a blow but a change of formation bringing five into midfield slowed Cambridge a little.

As the half progressed Sutton twice hit on the break but the final pass just failed to reach Tancred and Connie Gittings.

The story continued in the second half with waves of attack beaten away by Wallis and her defence.

It was inevitable Sutton would concede and with 25 minutes left, another foray into the D saw Cambridge find the back of the net at the second attempt with Wallis having foiled the first attempt.

Within five minutes, the lead had doubled with a simple but perfectly-placed strike from the right-hand edge of the D across Wallis into the far corner.

Sutton changed formation again with three at the back to try to bring some forward momentum in the last quarter of the match.

They were able to get some breaks in their opponents’ half but again Cambridge snuffed out the danger.

This result makes Long Sutton real outsiders to finish in the top two but there are three games left to win or another top-four finish.