On Monday 23rd November, VCB welcomed their U14 counterparts in the Junior Cup. The U14 have been undergoing a resurgence recently after good results against Hunterhouse and B.R.A. following a string of fruitless fine performances.
Mrs Loane received a last minute call up for umpiring duties, the heavens opened, VCB donned their away kit (orange bibs) and the stage was set for an epic battle in South Belfast.
Susie Loane continued her fine form in the pre-match toss and secured possession for the home side. The match began and the first ten minutes was largely uneventful as both teams got to grips with the treacherous weather. The pivotal moment in the opening exchanges was the early introduction of the recently crowned 'Fastest 12 year old in the World' Anna Hill. The left side of the Belfast high defence could simply not contain Anna, who was of course playing for the year above. This encouraged other players and after sustained pressure from Beth Brady, Bree Moffett and Keeva McAllister, the Belfast High defence began to creak. Several penalty corners were won but unfortunately the opportunities were spurned. Undoubtedly though, VCB began to smell blood.
After sterling build up play down the right hand side, involving Emily Young, Ellie Robinson and Anna Hill, another short corner was won and slickly despatched by Susie Loane.
The half wore on with the home defence largely untroubled, thanks to the assured performances from Jodi and Abby Palmer at the back. A string of substitutions allowed VCB to continue to dominate territory with Catherine Smith, Zara Lowry and Charlotte Houston providing a creativity and freshness in attack. Zara and Charlotte, along with Anna were also turning out for the year above.
Half time came and the message was more of the same from the sidelines. With Victoria completely and utterly in control, the only thing missing was the security of another goal. The introduction of Izzy Simpson and Shona Polly added extra impetus to the home side. The pattern of the first half was not to be followed however, with Belfast High determined to make amends for their lacklustre first half. They attempted to attack on greater numbers which meant that VCB had to work harder to create opportunities. Despite this, there were still periods of sustained pressure for the home side, with any rare attack for the visitors being dealt with by player of the match Marcia Hannan, who made a string of fine tackles to snuff out any attack.
The final whistle went and VCB were delighted to remain in the competition where they meet local rivals Methody in round 3. With a place in the quarter finals up for grabs as well as local pride, it is sure to be a tasty encounter next Monday.
Bolstered by the addition of several very talented U13 players, how far can Mr Gray's dream team venture?