Brighton and Hove's Starlings started the new year as they finished the old, sweeping away struggling Crowborough 7-0 in the Sussex Girls Development League. And not to be outdone, the Gulls won 5-0 at Chichester Cannons to hold onto second place behind their clubmates.
Clare Cook reports: "After taking five to ten minutes to settle, Emily C calmed the nerves deflecting Maelona R's hard flat strike into the back of the net for the first and post-Christmas nerves were settled.
"Over the next 10 minutes, the girls settled nicely into their familiar stride passing the ball around in lovely triangles and moving off the ball well to produce some excellent hockey. After two quick goals from Izzy S and Olivia S, coaches Clare Cook and Amy Mac began to move players out of position both to try and level the playing field and to give our girls a chance to develop their overall games.
"Defender Tilly S stepped up and did excellently in centre midfield, a position she's never played before, before having her game cut short through injury. Jess H, also a defender, slotted into the forward line seamlessly, and 10-year-old Isolda R adapted fantastically as she was moved through many positions! Emily C slotted in for her second and it was 4-0 at half time.
"The girls responded very well to the half time team talk that focused on each individual thinking only about their usual game and not worrying about what position they were in. That off the back of a little fragility after all the positional changes. As a result of this, that fragility rapidly disappeared as the second half went on, and as they have all season, the girls played some wonderful hockey.
"Maelona R, who once again was asked to play in multiple positions, got a goal as a reward for her hard work and excellent reading of the game, when she broke through a gap a the top of the 25 into the D and calmly slotted home.
"There were a number of brilliant moves almost ending in more goals, one or two of which would have been in contention for team goal of the season, but they either slipped just wide or were saved well.
We persisted though and Jess H, got her reward of a goal after lots of hard work upfront, where we know she's not that keen, but she was fab! Regular defender Marianna L also got herself a goal from a short stint in attacking midfield.
We spend the last 10 minutes playing 10 girls only in a attempt to level the playing field a little. 7-0 it finished and the Starlings remain unbeaten this season. Well done girls and special thanks to Katie Cornhill and Nancy Pickford, for not only coming out to umpire on a very chilly January afternoon, but for doing so very well indeed!"
The Starlings have won all 12 of the league games and still lead the Gulls by seven points after their triumph at Chichester.
Sue Everton reports: "A warm welcome to goalkeeper Freya W in her first game for Brighton and Hove. She will undoubtedly be an asset to the junior teams and put in a solid performance!
"The Gulls woke up once the cold hit them and following an early goal from Sophie E, the Gulls were fully in control of this match. Congratulations to Hannah S on the left wing who scored four goals this week, connecting with some lovely passes from Sophie E on the right wing and Olivia T in mid.
"The Gulls, I am sure, would have scored many more goals, but once we reached 5-0, just after half time, in an attempt to achieve a more level playing field, we switched players from their usual positions with RB Ellie B and our regular keeper Emily B playing on the forward line!
"The Gulls look forward to a much tougher match this Saturday when we play Eastbourne Chicks who held us to a draw at the beginning of the season. This cohort of girls have improved enormously this season, they are physically stronger, faster and technically more able with a wonderfully inclusive team spirit. They are loving their hockey - long may it continue!"