Streatham Storm came off second-best in a bruising encounter with Solihull Vixens at home on Saturday – but not before they gave the visitors a fright with a battling performance that threatened to upset the English Women’s Elite League form book.
The away team took the lead in the 15th minute through Jessica Urquhart, but Storm struck back just before the end of the first period when defenders Jamie Endrizzi and Isabel Whiteley set up Sarah Barton for the equaliser.
A second goal from Barton, from an assist by skipper Joanna Li How Cheong early in the second period and another from Chelsea Meaney stretched the home lead to 3-1. Solihull heavily outshot Storm during the period but were only able to claw back one goal, as Streatham goalie Ruth Cattell largely kept the Vixens at bay.
Endrezzi restored a two-goal lead halfway through the third period.
But a number of tough calls led to a series of Storm penalties, with a frustrated Meaney tossed from the game for fighting. Vixens went up a gear and rattled in four unanswered goals to run out 6-4 winners.
Cheong said: “We were dominating in the first half of the game and they didn’t expect it. But they upped their aggression and pace towards the end and unfortunately the ref’s calls didn’t go our way.”
“It was a much-improved performance compared to our last games. We are on the up. If we keep playing like this and keep our composure to the end, we will get those points.”
Storm remain second from bottom in the league, but head coach Sam Nicoll was not disheartened by the defeat. The team does not return to action until mid-January.
“The players were great for 95 per cent of the game but wobbled due to excessive penalties given both ways and other distractions,” Nicoll said. “It was a greatly-improved effort over last weekend. We just need to be able to go up a gear when the pressure is on.
“We are still on target for our aim to consolidate our place in the Elite Division. It is not about how we started the season – but how we finish.”