St Neots 1st 0 – 5 Dereham Ladies 1st

Dereham were on the road again after back to back wins at home and turned in a 5 star performance to return with 3 valuable points!

It was a very even start to the game with both sides creating some half chances but both letting themselves down with the final crucial pass.

It was the home side who created the first real effort on goal forcing Maddy Marshall into an early save. St Neots then won 2 short corners in close succession but the Dereham defence were up to the challenge and defended solidly to eradicate the danger.

This warning was exactly what Dereham needed and they sprung into life with numerous opportunities of their own. The first coming from nice build up play from the midfield and a pin point pass from Nat Grapes finding Ali Waters whose strong strike was just wide of the far post.

The next opportunity came from Ali Waters again who drove into the St Neots D and her fierce shot again narrowly missed the back post and an advancing Fran Grapes who was just inches away from deflecting the ball home.

Dereham carried on pressing relentlessly and camped in the St Neots half. Dereham finally had the ball in the net when the ball found Hayley Toleman in the D who turned well and her reverse stick strike saw the ball go through the keepers legs only for the goal to be ruled out for an earlier infringement.

Moments later, good work and a pass from Sarah Dove down the left found Fran Grapes in the D who in turn won a short corner. From the resulting short corner the ball was slipped to Pip Howes, whose pin point slap was deflected in at the back post by Lucy Soame for Dereham to deservedly break the deadlock.

One soon became two and when good work from Grace Cresswell on the right, feeding a ball into Hayley Toleman who turned the defender inside out with fantastic skill and instead of shooting herself she unselfishly squared the ball to the back post for Edie Topping to make no mistake and finished strongly into the corner.

This was exactly what Dereham deserved from a strong first half performance and although they created one more chance in the dying embers of the half the score remained 2-0 to Dereham at half time!

There was no let up in the second half for St Neots as Dereham came out of the blocks quickly with Fran Grapes linking up well with Edie Topping only for last ditch tackles and brave defending saw the score line remain the same.

Dereham then deservedly increased their lead when they patiently passed the ball round the St Neots defenders. The ball eventually found Ali Waters at the near post who turned sharply under pressure away from the defender and calmly slot the ball into the corner for her first goal of the season.

Although Dereham were still playing well, St Neots carved out a couple of chances of their own. The first of the chances saw Maddy Marshall, who hadn’t been called upon much for the majority of the game, still remain switched on and make a fine double save.

The second quick fire chance came from a slick counter attack from St Neots and resulting in a 3 on 1 but Eve Settle-Coulet was equal to it and stopped the attack with a well judge interception. This was the last time the Dereham defence of Helen, Tammy and Eve were called into action.

Dereham then dominated the final 10 minutes of the match and created several good opportunities and running in 2 more goals. The first came from fantastic link up play from Hayley Toleman and Pip Howes found Lucy Soame on the right, who drove strongly into the D and hit a reverse stick shot/pass which was deflected in brilliantly by Sarah Dove at the back post to make it 4.

With 2 minutes to go, Dereham made it 5 to round off a fantastic team performance away from home. Charlotte Taylor was found on the right by Lucy Soame, Taylor then drove at the St Neots defence and rolled the ball into the D and find Hayley Toleman who’s first time flick on her reverse gave her the goal her performance deserved.

Dereham are on the road again next weekend where they make the short trip to Watton hockey club.