29th October 2022: Two debuts and a depleted squad get the job done in this first meeting between Southampton Aztecs and Cambridge.
Injuries and absences meant the Aztecs turned up in Bedford with no subs. Bert Stanley was the only player that featured in the previous game against Genesis. Emily Digweed made her first competitive appearance for the Aztecs in just over a year. Alicia Povey, having suffered an injury against Bloomsbury, moved into the reserves for a game. Leah Harris made her competitive debut. And Nikki Walker came out of retirement, showing daughter Hannah how do do it.
A light and makeshift Aztecs team took to the court in Bedford to do battle against newly formed Cambridge. Alicia Povey scored the first goal, cutting inside and shooting from close range. Her second involved nutmegging the defender and the goalkeeper. Povey's first hat-trick of the game was completed following a cross from Harris, beating the defender, and supplying a great pass. Leah Harris made it 4-0 when Stanley clipped a great pass into Povey, who held-up well and laid it off for Harris, who cut in between two defenders and finished from inside the D.
Cambridge pulled a goal back, making it 4-1. Great play down the right, and a nutmeg of Stanley from close range. Harris scored next for the Aztecs, stealing the ball on the halfway line, cutting between the defenders, and then hammering a hard shot into the net. The first half finished 5-1 in favour of the Aztecs.
Harris continued the scoring, completing her first hat-trick, making it 6-1, after a great one-two with Povey down the left. Povey made it 7-1, nutmegging the keeper from close range, after being fed by Digweed who dribbled forward and played a great pass. Povey scored again, her fifth, to make it 8-1, pouncing on the loose ball, and scoring her third nutmeg goal of the game. Harris scored another to make it 9-1, carrying the ball down the left. Cambridge players stopped to protest, claiming the ball had exited the court, but the referee waved play-on, as Harris appeared to dribble around statues.
Harris scored another, making it 10-1 to the Aztecs. Twenty-one goals in this game, but this was likely the most memorable. She stole the ball from Cambridge in the centre circle, spun the defender, faked out the second, and then smashed a shot into the far corner. Cambridge scored their second of the game, bringing it to 10-2, catching the Aztecs off-guard at a kick-in. 10-3 and you could see the Aztecs starting to tire, using a one-two and good hold-up before firing past Stanley. It soon became 10-4, as part of a Cambridge scoring spree. Stanley made a great save in a one-on-one, and was quick to get back to her feet, but the ball was played across goal, and hit past the recovering Aztecs defenders.
Povey scored again for 11-4. A ball rolled to feet from Stanley, Povey tried to play to Harris, but it was blocked and went back to Povey, who adjusted well, beat the defender, squeezed between two more, and found the back of the net. Cambridge replied to make it 11-5. Hold-up play, a lay-off, and a low shot from close range.
Another goal for Povey at 12-5, reacting well with a close range volley after Harris' shot across goal was parried by the keeper. And then another to make it 13-5. Walker prevented the turn, and poked the ball to Povey on the halfway line, who beat two defenders and dragged them round the court with her, before sliding to a finish to tuck the ball into the far corner. Povey's final goal of the game, her nineth, completing her third hat-trick, was scored when she cut out the pass from the keeper who was fly, and then passed the ball into the empty goal from distance. Harris finished the scoring with her sixth, completing her second hat-trick, when Povey's pass from the corner caught Cambridge unaware, allowing Harris to score form close range.
It was tough circumstances, with a lot of players being asked to play through the pain. Players carrying knocks, and no subs, yet this bunch showed excellent team spirit to grit their teeth and get the job done.
Six goals on her debut, and great link-up with Povey, lead to Leah Harris being voted as Aztecs' player of the match.
Enjoy the highlights below.
View the whole match below.
The scores from the day of games.
Bedford P v P London Genesis
Southampton Aztecs Reserves 15 v 6 Cambridge
Reading Royals 3 v 8 Stevenage
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