Nothing is nicer than a win at the beginning of a season!
By Andrew Wishart
SVHC 1s XI play away at Marden, where their facilities will be very nice when competed.
Sutton Valence 2nd XI played Marden at the end of last season in slightly different circumstances. The Sutton Valence ‘re-shuffle’ meant that it was now a new SV 1st XI playing the Marden 2nd XI. While the Marden new facility is well on the way, it is still not quite finished.
For the first time in over a season, SV 1st XI came to a game with a full squad, rather than team of 8 or 9. The match started in glorious sunshine. Reasonable support was provided to the Sutton Valence squad by a contingent of travelling fans, a minority against a large partisan home crowd, but still very much appreciated by the visitors.
Despite Marden’s rigorous pre-season training schedule, it was Valence that controlled the opening exchanges. The experienced upfront duo of Turnill and Kirkham, supported by ‘Gazelle’ Johnny Walker put the Marden defence under significant pressure. After being awarded a short corner, the Sutton Valence routine provided an opening and Turnill opened the scoring. 1 Nil Valence. Marden quickly re-grouped. They effectively and regularly made substitutions to refresh the line-up and keep Valence guessing. This worked well and they quickly drew level. 1-1.
Valence were ready to try some of their substitutes. It was time for experience. The bearded dentist was pawing at the half way line, ready to enter the fray. Johnson knew that he was on borrowed time, one final chance to shine. On the ball he seized his opportunity and threw an aerial…. out of the pitch. Nice work, take 5 now please.
With some fresh legs on the pitch the new ball found its way into the Marden D. Unchallenged, Ryan Robinson loitering at the back post, knocked in a sympathetic cross / shot into an empty goal, from approximately 6 inches. 1-2 to the visitors. The rest of the half saw chances for both sides and some hairy moments for Valence, defending multiple short corners.
The half time chat was easy, more of the same please, just keep working hard.
The second half continued in the same vein with chances for both sides. It was Valence who struck first, the Marden keeper pouncing on the ball like a cat with a mouse, impressed with his catch and not letting go. A penalty stroke was awarded and Kirkham dispatched into the net. His team mates never in doubt. Ryan Robinson did ask for it to be noted that he did take the P-Flicks when he was at Warwick and was available for this duty. 1- 3 to Valence.
The home crowd were as vociferous as ever, trying to drive their team on. They responded and began to cause more problems for Valence, who struggled to use their substitutes as effectively as Marden. The home team scored, following an unforced Valence error in the middle of the pitch. 2-3. Bawden was putting in a shift and he was beginning to feel it. He thought about calling someone off the bench, but decided it was more straight forward to bundle into a tackle and get a quick two-minute breather. It was time for Valence to try and make the bench work for them again. Johnson spotted his hairy counterpart gesticulating with the internationally recognized signal for, you are coming off? Again, he wanted to impress with his last passage of play and as the ball came to him in the air, thinking on his feet, he opted for a cover drive in the direction of the Marden clubhouse and, most importantly, out of the pitch for the second time in a game. Good move.
Marden were not impressed at this declaration and sent on the reinforcements. Ben Bardsley, leading the Marden front line, stepped up and tried to demonstrate to their coaches why he should be in their 1st XI, rifling the ball into the Valence net. 3-3.
With time running out and the match destined for a friendly draw, Valence pushed forward once again, winning a short corner. Turnill stepped forward and drag flicked for 3-4 glory.
The match finished in good spirits. The two fierce rivals enjoyed a beer in the afternoon sun in front of the Marden building site and shipping containers.
It will be nice when it is done.