Nomads 1 (18) v Kingfisher 1 (17)
Anybody of a Nomads persuasion fortunate enough to be at Epsom College on Sunday were treated to a closely fought match with a thrilling end and the desired result.
Nomads did not make it easy for themselves, having spells where the game drifted away from them but they kept themselves in it and secured the narrowest of victories in a key fixture.
A slow start saw Kingfisher take and early 0-2 lead before Alex Bell converted a penalty that was well won by Heather Ikwuemesi to start the scoreboard ticking for Nomads.
A Kingfisher Free Pass extended the lead and the poor start, clearly not what Coach Peter Teague had wanted, led to him calling a time out before ten minutes had elapsed. It had a positive effect and Nomads stayed in the game up until half time.
Top goalscorer Bijker scored for 2-3, Kingfisher replied, Emma Cole then struck for Nomads from distance for 3-4 before Kingfisher regained their two goal advantage, 3-5.
Above: Captain, Bijker, leading by example. All the match photos are now up on Flickr
The Reds then hit their first purple patch, Bijker scoring twice in quick succession before Ikwuemesi gave Nomads the lead for the first time, 6-5.
Kingfisher regained it with two of their own, their side slightly weakened but clearly still up for the fight. Bijker again from long range made it 7-7 before a rashly conceded penalty made it 7-8 to the Kent side.
Tritsarolis entered the scoring for 8-8 but any hopes of a half time lead disappeared with two more Kingfisher goals and another penalty. Ikwuemesi pulled one back to leave the game poised 9-10 to Kingfisher at half time.
The half time team talk had the desired effect initially. Ikwuemesi again hitting the target to level before Bijker gave Nomads the lead. Emma Cole, struggling with illness, departed to be replaced by Sam Rowbottom. Nomads surge continued, Tamika Zilm with a fine running in shot and Tritsarolis showing his finishing abilities for 13-10.
This forced Kingfisher to take their time out and as the coaches battled to gain the upper hand, the time outs proving their tactical and motivational worth to both sides, as the game soon swung back into Kingfisher's control.
A penalty and another from open play closed it up to 13-12. Ana Osbourne then eased the pressure, scoring from miles out for 14-12. A runner and another open play leveled the game 14-14 and the noise and tension in the hall was building up to a grandstand finish.
Teague threw his tactical nous into the mix again, deciding that youngster Alex Smith would ask more questions of the Kingfisher defence than rebounder Nikesh Patel. His hunch was immediately backed up as Smith scored within seconds of coming on, 15-14.
With ten minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance, Bijker added his sixth of the game but again, Kingfisher rallied and hit two without reply to level the game at 16-16. Alex Smith sank his second of the match to keep the pressure on and Teague used another time out to try and calm his side to help them close out the game.
Nomads kept up some great defensive pressure, managing to buzz out Kingfisher on the shot clock with three minutes to go but the armour was finally cracked and a penalty was conceded and calmly dispatched. The game was set at 17-17 and going into the last minute with a draw seeming to be a fair result and a likely one.
It wasn't to be though, the pressure showed as Nomads attacked once more, won a penalty and it was left to the calm confidence of Alex Bell to take the last second, last chance penalty...
Naturally, seemingly the only person in the hall unfazed by the excitement, with his own mother unable to watch from the sidelines, Bell scored the penalty and won the match for Nomads to cheers of relief and joy all around.
By no means a perfect performance from Nomads but close matches and last minute winners are what really makes this sport a thrill to watch and play and it was always nice to be reminded of that whilst taking the points and the win!
Sytze Bijker (6) Nikesh Patel, Dinos Tritsarolis (2) Alex Bell (2)
Tamika Zilm (1) Ana Osbourne (1) Heather Ikwuemesi (3) Emma Cole (1)
Alex Smith (2) Sam Rowbottom