Linlithgow 0, Fjordhus Reivers 2s 4
The Fjordhus Reivers Ladies 2s hockey squad headed to West Lothian on Saturday knowing nothing but a win against title challengers Linlithgow would do, as they chased back-to-back Premier East League titles.
A draw in this top-table clash would do for the West Lothian outfit, and allow them to take the title. However, the mighty Reivers 2s were in no mood to loosen their grip on the title.
From the whistle, the Tweedbank outfit set about stamping their authority on the game, passing the ball around smartly when in possession, and pressing the opposition when they had the ball.
This brought about the perfect start when, from their first penalty corner, smart interplay saw the ball fed to Claire Townsend on the left, who made no mistake in sweeping the ball home.
This settled the Reivers side and there followed a good period of possession and pressure on the Linlithgow goal, resulting in skipper Ashley Robson capping off a great passing move through the Reivers midfield with a strong drive into the D.
Her measured finish, calmly executed, was good enough to beat the keeper and give the visitors a well deserved 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
This seemed to sting Linlithgow into action and there followed a period of sustained pressure on the Reivers goal. However good defence and a string of great saves from young Holly Grieve in goal (with one outstanding assist from sister Emma) ensured a two-goal lead at the half.
In the second period, the Reivers redoubled their efforts and took control of the game, with the midfield of Denise Fairbairn, Lauren Grant and Rachel Shiel in complete harmony, working tirelessly and efficiently together to great effect.
Behind them, the vastly experienced ‘holy trinity’ of Janet Jack, Jackie Wilson and Claire Townsend showed great composure and guile in closing down any attacks which Linlithgow tried to mount, allowing Emma Grieve and Dani Walker the freedom to exploit space on the touchlines to good effect.
On the right, Elena Lunn and Holly Shepherd worked well to create space for each other and create opportunities, while Laura McLean, prowling down the left, tortured the Linlithgow defence with her speed and craft.
It was only a matter of time before the third goal came and, when it did, it was a beauty. Great work by young Holly Shepherd, breaking down the left, saw her pass to Ashley Robson in the D, who calmly drew the defence and released the ball to Jenny Sharp. She hit the target with a sweet reverse strike.
Robson and Sharp were creating all sorts of problems for the Linlithgow defence and the attention they were being afforded allowed the Reivers midfield to press forward and push for a fourth goal.
This came from Rachel Shiel, with another lovely reverse sweep which cracked against the backboard, to great cheers from the loyal travelling support.
When the final whistle blew, the Reivers 2s had secured the victory they required with an excellent assured performance, worthy of winning the league title, and everyone in the squad had played their part in a tremendous team performance.
Led by inspirational captain Ashley Robson, this squad has had a fantastic team spirit, which was the key to the Reivers turning their season around in such emphatic style.