For some reason, my memory of the 5s game on Saturday against Southgate Adelaide 3s has got a bit fuzzy, I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with the end of season social last night! So apologies for any technical irregularities.
A windless spring day at the Ashmole Academy feels a little different to a freezing winter’s day with the wind seemingly blowing in directly from Siberia, so spirits were good as we warmed up for the game. We welcomed the men’s club captain, Roger Macklin, with his one rejuvenated hip, to the team, along with the newsletter editor, Ben Moorhouse, for his first game for the 5s this season (so, if this report shows him claiming all the goals & assists, it’s been edited!). With the season being extended, it meant that the captain, Andy Prentice, was able to complete his six weeks recuperation and take the field, albeit in a more sedate role at the back (or at least that’s what he’d hoped). Andrew Whitaker was taking a well earned break from his studies at UEA (it’s hard having to turn up to lectures 3 times a week for a couple of hours a day) joined us as well, a more than adequate stand-in for his injured father.
The game started brightly, the 2 youngsters in the Adelaide side (from higher teams who were helping out due to unavailability) were calling the shots & it took a while for us to settle, but Ben & Alex Gilmore in the middle of the park soon sorted the 2 young whipper-snappers out, not allowing them any time on the ball and putting pressure on their passes. We knew we had to use the width to get more from this game, so with Simon Barron, Alfie Gardener, Andrew Whitaker & Jackson Stuart providing that, we got the ball out to them as much as possible and we started to make inroads into their territory. We got a couple of short corners, one cleared off the line the other striking the keepers pads. We kept pressing, some good long balls from the back to the ever willing Brian De Mattos (back from international duty with Scotland, yes really) & Colin Izzard kept up the pressure, but we were always susceptible to being caught on the break, we did not have our speediest defence out there today, so Roger, Andy, John Baxter & Ian O’Dell were put under quite a bit of pressure by their nippy right winger & one of his mazy runs allowed them to put one past Brett Kelley in goal. This was followed by a second of a similar vein. They were now on the front foot, and but for some great saves by Brett & some solid defending they could have scored more.
So, it was 2-0 at half time, which coincided with the arrival of David Sutcliffe (don’t ask!), we decided on a minor re-shuffle, switching Andrew to cover their right winger in an effort to stem the flow down that side, other than that it was just a matter of keeping up the work-rate, getting a little more accuracy on our passing & just enjoying it.
With the improvement in our passing we were utilising the wide men a lot better & one of those moves led to the ball being played into the D by Roger, where it found Ben in a bit of space & his shot thumped into the backboard, we were back in it. They then upped their tempo and got their 3rd against the run of play, Brett made more key saves as they tried to put the game beyond reach, but we were not ready to give up. More short corners followed for us as we pressed hard & high, one of them being crashed into the bottom corner by Alex. Then a smart move down the right saw Alfie drive into the D where the ball found Alex who slammed in his second, 3-3 and we were in the ascendency. Jackson had a chance at the back post pushed wide, Alfie had a shot cleared off the line, Simon (or was it Brian!) had one pushed wide by the keeper, we were playing our socks off. More pressure from our wide men causing turmoil in their defence earned us another short corner, again, Alex received the ball and dispatched it to the backboard with aplomb for his hattrick, or is it, the umpires are having a conflab, did it come out of the D, we are all sure it did, the opposition didn’t complain, surely it must stand, & yes, the umpires confirmed the goal stood (fine officiating all day by them added to the enjoyment of the game). We saw out the rest of the game without much incident.
A fine come-back win, final score Southgate Adelaide 3s 3 – 4 BHHHC 5s.
Man of the match was close between the hattrick scorer & our man between the sticks, with Brett taking it by one vote, there were also votes for all the defenders, which shows the pressure we had been under & how well we dealt with it. Only one more game to go and after that result it will be eagerly anticipated.