Canterbury intent on avenging heartbreak
WITH the disappointment of last year’s Super 6s heartbreak fresh in their minds, Canterbury enter this weekend’s finals with fire in their bellies and revenge on the agenda.
That’s according to captain Sarah Kerly, who insists the time couldn’t be better for the Green and White Army to get their hands on silverware at Wembley.
Having come so close to landing a maiden Super 6s title in 2016, losing 3-1 to East Grinstead with Kerly scoring her side’s only goal, their determination is peaking as they look to reverse their fortunes.
But while Canterbury have held the upper hand over semi-final opponents Bowdon Hightown twice this season, indoor and outdoor, Kerly insists her side cannot go into the tie assuming victory is on the cards.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” she said. “We expected to finish in fourth place so we’re really happy to be third, but I guess it doesn’t really make a difference – semi-finals are always big games and it doesn’t matter at this stage who you are playing.
“We’ve had a really good couple of weeks’ training, the girls are really excited and focused and, given our 5-3 win over Bowdon in the indoor league, we’re feeling pretty confident.
“We can’t go into it complacent because Bowdon are one of those teams who have always been very good tactically indoors, so we’re not going in thinking that we’ve beaten them twice this season so we’re going to beat them again.
“We’re going to try and do the things that we know we do best, and not worry too much about their big players. We’ll focus on our game, there’s no point in worrying about theirs.
“We’re wanting to right the wrongs of last year. It was really difficult for us then, playing East Grinstead in the final, because they parked the bus against us.
“We’d definitely like to get to the final and win it. It’s so close between the top four this year, whereas it wasn’t so close last year, so any team could win it.”
The other semi-final sees tabletoppers Slough take on fourth-placed Sutton Coldfield, but the former’s skipper Kat McGonigle admits spectators need to throw out their form books on this one.
Slough not only finished at the summit of the round robin standings but beat Sutton Coldfield 9-3 on their way to finals day,, with top scorer Dilly Newton netting a hattrick in that clash.
The Pink and Blacks have also married the competition’s meanest defence (23 goals conceded) with the second-most potent attack (38 goals scored), even without striker Alex Scott – who recently gave birth.
But after two semi-final heart- breaks in two seasons, McGonigle is wary of Slough being the competition’s “nearly women” once again.
“We obviously had a really good couple of weekends, only losing the one game to Bowdon, and certainly we didn’t expect to top the pool,” she said.
“We always go into it just aiming to stay safe in the competition, because anything can happen between the two weekends – as it showed on the last Sunday when the last four places went down to the wire.
“The defence has been doing very well and we’ve been scoring a lot of goals, and obviously that is a winning combination.
“In previous years, Alex Scott has been our top scorer and usually the top scorer in the competition, and in her absence we needed to share the goals out a bit.
“A few people have really stepped up from that respect and got the balls in the net regardless.
“But we certainly know it’s going to be a tough semi-final on Sunday. The scoreline from when we played them in the round robin obviously reads 9-3, but it wasn’t that type of game.
“They have some excellent players in Vicky Woolford, Sarah Parkinson-Mills, Becky Batsford in goal, and they have had the Wembley experience that we haven’t in recent years.
“So we can’t take it for granted. With indoor it can go either way and we are ready for a battle.”
Determined: Sarah Kerly wants Canterbury to make amends for their final defeat last year
Wary: Slough captain Kat McGonigle says form counts for nothing at Wembley