Can­ter­bury in­tent on aveng­ing heart­break

The Hockey Paper - - SUPER 6S - by Katie Falk­ing­ham

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.”

PIC­TURE: Andy Cray­ford

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

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