Usually, on a chilly morning, the 10:30 fixture at Halton is the first to become a casualty (more of those later), but not this one. An early inspection and a quick call to the Hertford 6s captain meant we would give this one a go.
On Friday evening it looked like we would only have 11, but with offers of assistance from Alex Gilmore, John Baxter & David Sutcliffe to come along and be a sub for any potential injuries (more of those later), it was a bit of a relief, the 5s have history with that sort of thing.
So, on a thawing pitch, we got underway. Some early pressure from Hertford saw some good defending from Nick Cave, Ian O’Dell & Alex Winwright with the ever dependable Terry Wintle backing them up in goal. But they managed to slide one in to put them one up. In a slight reshuffle, Alex G came on for Brian De Mattos, Andy Prentice moved into attack. We were playing some nice hockey, spreading the ball wide and controlling the pace of the ball on what was still a quick pitch, Dave Gardener was breaking up play well in the midfield and distributing to Rhys Hanling & Tim Buckley wide in the midfield, who in turn worked well with John King & Alfie Gardener on the wings. In one of our attacking moves, Dave played the ball into the D for Andy to chase down their centre back, but just as he got past him he felt something pop in his leg and pulled up lame. This brought on David Sutcliffe, and with continued pressure we finally created a clear opening with some good work by Rhys & Alfie down the right, Alfie struck the ball goalwards, only for the keeper to stick out a leg but this only meant the ball fell to David S on the P spot & he calmly slotted past the keeper, 1-1, nothing more than we deserved. Soon after that we had our second casualty, Tim tweaked his hamstring again and would play no further part, meaning we had now used all of our subs on stand-by by half time when John B came on the replace him. So, 1 all but 2 down at half time.
The chilly drizzle started to fall at the start of the second half, but we were not going to let that stop us, with Alex G taking more control in the middle of the park and some great hockey from the youngsters Alfie & Rhys we continued to press. John K & Alex W played some great balls in from the right, but they were all dealt with by their defenders, we had a short corner, but couldn’t quite get a clean shot away. After all of our pressure, we conceded one on the break and then another soon after, which put an unfair slant on the scoreline. We continued to press, but nothing was forthcoming apart from Dave G having to come off with another tight hamstring.
Big thanks to Mike Whitaker & Gary Stanwell for their umpiring, firstly for allowing the game to go ahead where a first team game might have not and for allowing the game to flow as much as possible, there was also some good communication between them when it was needed, just a fine performance by both.
Man of the match was tight, the Gardeners shared six votes between them, but Alex G pipped them both by 1 vote. We look forward to the week’s break hoping it will give time for those with injuries to recover.