From the outset this particular game was predicted by the mighty Scottish Hockey Union as ?a difficult one to call? and sure enough, this proved to be an accurate premonition.
Kelburne commenced their grudge match with Giffnock with confidence and tenacity, following an inspiring team talk from coach Stacy Ramsay. Kelburne had convincingly beaten Giffnock in a recent friendly and beliefs were high, following last week?s proud performance against Dundee Wanderers. Another boost was facilitated by the inside information regarding the absence of Giffnock?s ruthless player-coach Rhona Simpson.
The game was overwhelmingly ?end to end hockey? in the first half. Cath Rae pulled off some stunning saves when Giffnock attacked the circle with several aggressive attempts hitting the post on the second. In the thirty second minute Kelburne were awarded their one and only penalty corner of the game as Amy Hyslop passed to Amanda Maxwell in a crucial position in the circle, which was then blocked by a Giffnock foul. The Buddies however, were unlucky to utilise this corner as Kate Longbotham made a valiant attempt at goal from the penalty spot. A close call followed, as Giffnock retaliated with a strong attacking strike from top of the circle, which, rebounded off Cath Rae only to be ?base-ball batted? over the bar of an open goal by a Giffnock rebounder.
From that moment on, Kelburne kept consistent focus on retaining possession and pushing for outcomes in the circle. Consequently, the first half finished with some promising attacks from the Paisley side in midfield and some excellent steals from the Kelburne defence. The first half score finished 0-0.
The half time team talk was both positive and productive, highlighting Kelburne?s commendable work rate, whilst, also addressing the need to build on forward rotations in the circle and general decisiveness from all players in pressuring the ball carrier. Both aspects, indeed, were improved by Kelburne in the second half.
In the second half Kelburne?s increased concentration was evident as even Claire Macfarlane inquired during the game if we had too many players on the pitch at one point. In the middle phase of this half, Giffnock challenged Kelburne relentlessly with some energetic attacks. In response, the Buddy defence stepped up to the mark with some brave performances. Most notably, from Cath Rae who again, dominated the circle with some epic saves at the back post. Frances McKeown also displayed some impressive flare on the right hand side and made an excellent block, whilst running out to the top circle strike at a Giffnock penalty corner. Although Giffnock did appear to drive the game for a phase of this half, they still failed to capitalise on their chances and several shots went wide. Kelburne, as many would argue, finished this half in a more dangerous fashion, with some very close encounters from the some fast breaks involving Emma Barlow in both instances. In the last few minutes of the game, a diving challenge by Giffnock keeper Lauren Grant was good enough to prevent a very close opportunity by the Paisley side.
The final score was 0-0. Kelburne now look forward to their next challenge: Western Wildcats.