JERSEY’S performance in the quarter-finals of England Hockey’s Tier-2 Ladies Championships is a solid benchmark for this Saturday’s inter-insular, according to head coach Simon Watling.
The Islanders were beaten 3-0 by high-profile outfit Old Georgians on Sunday but Watling (pictured below) has expressed pride at how his side played – and believes it will stand them in good stead for their upcoming trip to Guernsey.
Former South Africa international Candice Manuel was among those forcing the issue for the hosts in Surrey, as they took their cup tally to 13 goals in three games this season.
‘Context is crucial,’ said Watling. ‘Old Georgians are a massive UK club. Their men’s team finished top of the Premier League table last year and their women are working their way through the leagues, as they are newly formed.
‘Their squad is stacked; they have an ex-Team GB player, an ex-South Africa international and youngsters from the Guildford talent academy. There’s a 99% chance they will be in the National League next year and they will most likely win this competition.
‘Losing 3-0 may sound like a bad result but we played really well.’
Eve Taylor-Cox and Kerry Rogers both received praise for their work in midfield, while Harley Cadoret impressed at the back.
Watling added: ‘The girls started nervy, because they knew how good Old Georgians were, and we conceded within three or four minutes. But after that we settled. After the initial shock the girls realised they had to work together and our structure worked. They defended really well and managed to get to half time just 1-0 down, which was a real achievement in itself.’
Emma Grange and Kathryn Godfrey both had one-v-one chances saved by Old Georgians’ goalkeeper in the second period, as they chased what would have been a shock result.
‘We were still in it and we felt we would get opportunities in the second half,’ Watling said. ‘We started well and were pressing but [Manuel] showed a bit of class and they scored from close range for 2-0. After that we committed a bit more, going forward, and we got caught. Their third goal was a beautiful strike from the top of the D.
‘We had to dig deep. There might have been fear of an embarrassing result but they all worked together and created opportunities. Old Georgians were the better side and deserved to go through, but we took a lot out of it.’