2ND Xl TUSSLE AT THE TOP
By Paul Linaker
Puts them in contention for 2nd place in last game
It was a muggy start to the day and the cloud cover made it feel slightly grey and weary, but the game today would be nothing like the weather, as it was an important game for both teams, tussling for their positions at the top of the League.
Unaccustomed to having so many players keen to play at this time of season, stand-in Captain Chris Sheldon had called upon the experience of the Club Captain to manage his bench, however, the whistle blew and he was nowhere to be seen. So, the substitutions were going to have to be taken on the fly, and this never seems to end well for Valence.
After a quick warm up, Sutton Valence were ready to go. The first half started well with them once again playing as a team, with good passing, being the first to the ball, winning the tackles and gaining a lot of possession. This resulted in some good pressure in the Gore Court half, the midfield were picking up the ball and making driving runs into the D, and after a couple of wayward shots, Pete Rogers found himself in a shooting position on a very fine angle, with player and keeper between him and the goal, this did not deter him, he still took the opportunity to try and slot the ball through, the player seeing this, placed his stick flat on the floor in a defensive stance, this allowed the ball to hit his stick and lift up high over the keepers head, and into the waiting goal. SV 1-0.
Rather than deflate the visitors, they took this as inspiration, and started to turn the tide of the game, pressing the Valence defence and gaining several short corners, but the home defensive line was well versed with this, and were able to take it in their stride, pushing Court back and denying them an equaliser. Valence then started to get their shape back towards the end of the first half, and with some great passing play, were making lots of opportunities in the opposition D, but just unable to capitalise on some great crosses. The visitor’s keeper was not for giving Valence any time on the ball, making some really good open play saves. However, the duo of Willson and Sheldon would put an end to this with Tom Willson taking aim from the top of the D, with amazing ability of being able to pick out Chris Sheldon in the crowd, sending the ball hurtling at him just outside the post, where he found a deflection and Valence went 2-0 up.
Half time seemed to come quickly, and there wasn’t really much to say, Valence were playing well again for a 3rd successive week, and just needed to tighten up on the Gore Court players, to make sure they held their lead.
The second half started in a similar fashion, but Gore Court were determined to get on the score sheet, and their well-practised short corner routines were bound to give them a positive result, this came shortly in the second half, with Keeper Ryan Robinson, getting a glove to the hit, but the ball made short work of his pad, and flew out of his hand, finding the back board. With Valence trying to maintain their slim margin and Court pushing to bring the game to a draw, it was end to end hockey, but neither team was able to change the score line, and the game ended 2-1 to Valence.
Once again, although the match was a tough affair, it was a very enjoyable game and Valence now look towards their last game of the season, taking on Burnt Ash in a fight for a second place.
Another hard-fought and well-deserved victory for Valence.
MOM: Ryan Robinson
Scorers: Pete Rogers, Chris Sheldon
Team: Ryan Robinson, James Willmott, Freddie Hulbert, Steve Parker, Gareth Davies, Ben Tragett, Johnny Walker, Richard Turnill, Tom Willson, Andy Barr, Chris Sheldon, Pete Rogers, Chris Stille, Graeme Francis.
Umpire – Iain Simmons
Match Report by Chris Sheldon.
Next Game: Home - 09:45 am – 30th March 2019 – Versus Burnt Ash
The 2nd Xl had a great win at home against Gore Court to put them in contention for 2nd place if they can overcome Burnt Ash 5th Xl again at home in a weather-delayed final game next week.