Teddy Hall secured promotion to the Women’s First Division on Saturday with a 3-2 win against St John’s at a cold Iffley Road. The pressure upon both teams was heavy going into the match – either side winning would confirm their promotion at the other team’s expense.
It was Teddy Hall, playing in claret and yellow to the St John’s red and black, who appeared to be on top as a result of the opening exchanges and first blood fell to the St Edmund’s Hall team as their left wing Lucy Andrews ran onto a neat through-ball to sidefoot the ball casually home past Emma Recknell. The goal galvanised St John’s into action and their best chance of the half again came through Habiba Daggash. Attacking midfielder Ashley White broke forwards and delivered a very neat lobbed ball into the middle of the box to the waiting Daggash, who was unable to convert the chance.
With the first half of play finished and St Edmund’s Hall going up if the score remained the same, St John’s coach Tom Ough delivered a stirring team talk, including the phrase “We have conceded a goal, which is not good.” Whatever else Ough said, it appeared to have had the desired effect upon the St John’s squad. Shortly after play resumed the Reds equalised through the ever-threatening Daggash with a goal remarkably similar to Lucy Andrews’ in the first half. As it stood St John’s were the ones being promoted but they were given an ominous reminder that their work was not yet finished. The Teddy Hall attack delivered a tough effort that keeper Emma Recknell had to nudge wide of the post – it appeared at the time that it might have been the save that promoted St John’s. The Teddy Hall players weren’t finished yet, though, and soon afterwards, a corner delivered into the box by Lucy Stuchfield was bundled messily home by the Teddy Hall attack. It was not the prettiest goal by any means, but it counted none the less. Losing the lead had clearly stung St Edmund’s Hall and they began to dominate possession and chances. Lucy Stuchfield had a chance to put the game beyond doubt as she surged forward on a solo effort, battering a strike inches wide of the John’s goal. Goalscorer Lucy Andrews joined in the attacks, countering from a promising John’s attack only to see her rolling sidefooted attempt knocked wide by defender Maddie Forman.
As the minutes rolled down, times started to look desperate for St John’s, and sure enough the game was put beyond doubt five minutes from time. The ball was bobbling about outside the St John’s box before all of a sudden it was seen looping high into the net. Ashley White gave a consolation strike for John’s just before the end, stroking the ball home from a corner, but the St John’s girls looked deflated and in truth there was too little time for them to stage a comeback.
Whilst Teddy Hall’s victory was not the prettiest nor the most decisive by any means, they were certainly the better side on the day and they may now look forward to next season when they slug it out at the top Colleges division. St John’s can take solace from the fact that, as things stand, they can look with confidence upon next season’s promotion challenge.