Helen Richardson-Walsh scores hat-trick as Cambridge City defeat Southgate
Megan Crowson also bags a double in Investec Women's Hockey League win
Helen Richardson-Walsh scored a hat-trick as Cambridge City started their new Investec Women’s Hockey League, Conference East season with a 5-0 win over Southgate.
There was a buzz about Wilberforce Road as the two new pitches at the Cambridge University complex hosted East League matches, but the centrepiece was the season opener of the England League on pitch one.
It was apparent from early on in the match that the visitors were going to sit deep and defend, and they were well organised in the early stages, showing a tenacity and determination that was proving difficult to break down.
There was, however, this growing feeling that if City could get a goal then it would settle any nerves and see them relax into the game rather than force their play.
Richardson-Walsh had gone close following a penalty corner in the fifth minute, with her shot just clipping the outside of the post.
It was not until the 21st minute that the deadlock was broken though, when another penalty corner led to a couple of deflections for Richardson-Walsh to finish off.
Once the goal went in, City seemed to up the pressure, and Emily Thorpe was to the fore.
In a slightly withdrawn position in midfield, she appeared to be dictating play and helping City find the right channels to get in behind Southgate.
The second goal came in the 25th minute when Emma Shinkin’s shot was deflected into the air, and Richardson-Walsh was on hand to turn home.
Megan Crowson has returned to the club this season, and she was proving to be a handful to the Southgate defence, and grabbed the third goal after City stole possession and moved play into the D for the striker to score with a reverse-stick finish.
After the break, City were composed in their play, but they found an in-form rival in Southgate keeper Zara Rose.
As City turned the screw in the second half, she was on song, making save after save to thwart the hosts and keep the score at 3-0.
It was not until the 57th minute that the hosts got their fourth, and it was a well-structured move.
Miriam Marti-Palet won the ball in the middle of the pitch and drove forwards before passing left to Lisa Williamson, who then took her time to pick out Crowson with a low cross into the D, and the striker grabbed her third of the game.
A minute later, play was moved to the top of the D where Richardson-Walsh was able to finish off her hat-trick.
It was a deserved win for City – and could have been more but for Rose – and one which settles them into the new season nicely.
Cambridge City: Oakman, Hayward, Bloy, Burrows, Shinkin, Crowson, Sheahan, Richardson-Walsh, Williamson, Baber, Thorpe, Dowling, Daniel, Curtis, Marti-Palet, Greaves.
Southgate: Rose, McIntosh, Joarder, Hopkisson, Burkin, Ruffell-Hazell, Thayer, Cox, Leel, Sherring, Sheffield, Robinson, Kelly, Stephens, Williams.