2nd Xl - Bull Dog Spirit, Spaniel Result
By Paul Linaker
Just one point behind Burnt Ash
Glorious sunshine welcomed the teams to the Senior School pitch on Saturday morning. Seemingly the school did not feel that it was quite bright enough, so they put the flood lights on to enhance the dazzling hockey.
The match started with Valence in the ascendency, in a change of tactic attacking the ‘road’ end in the first half. Valence passed the ball well and enjoyed more possession and looked the greater threat. In the early stages Valence had the legs and were running round the Ash’s more mature line-up. Sheldon selflessly passing to Willson to open the scoring. 1-0.
Soon after, Tragett found a direct pass to Stille, who shot, forcing a save by the committed keeper. There was a general scramble in the goalmouth before Turnill used his strength, agility, power and ‘calm in a crisis’ disposition to slot home. The only fly in the ointment for the enigmatic Turnill was the umpire’s whistle 6 inches before the ball crossed the line. The goal was awarded, Burnt Ash didn’t seem too bothered, their umpire on the other hand sought to challenge the decision. The outcome, a penalty stroke was awarded to Valence; Willson stepped up. 2-0 Valence.
Burnt Ash began to play themselves in the game and Valence spent a period of time chasing shadows, as they attacked and scored a dubious goal. Allegedly, a free hit was taken from outside the 23 and immediately struck into the D. It is fair to say that a significant number on the pitch thought the free hit was taken at least 0.5m inside the 23. However, the close umpire saw nothing wrong and awarded the goal. 2-1.
Valence were quick to regain dominance. Neat interplay and silky passing between Willson and Stille led to Willson completing his hattrick. 3-1.
The half time chat was simple, more of the same. Keep running.
Sutton Valence’s restart in the second half was unfortunately weak. The back pass supplied the Burnt Ash attacker, and this resulted in a short corner. Arguably a lucky decision for Ash, but from it they reduced the deficit. 3-2. Goals change games and it was Burnt Ash that were causing the majority of issues. The feisty Ash striker with the goal at his mercy, was denied by a last ditch Turnill jab tackle, poking the ball onto the striker’s feet.
However, Valence were still trying to extend their lead. Several chances were spurned as the home team sought to finish the season on a high. Unfortunately, this left opportunities for Burnt Ash on the break. They took their opportunity and levelled the score. 3-3.
Determined to find a winner, Valence found a revived determination, a great ball into the D from Seb O’Leary, took a light deflection from Sheldon’s stick, past the keeper and onto the back board. Valence ran off to celebrate. The visiting umpire had a different idea, determining that Sheldon did not make contact. Not a claim that any of the Burnt Ash players appealed or supported (albeit, neither did they argue against his decision to chalk off the goal).
A great game, ending in a draw. Valence can feel hard done by, but it is not the first time this season that Valence have lost a seemingly secure lead. It will, however, be the last time.
Have a good summer!!!
MOM: Tom Willson
Combative Award: Tom Willson, Richard Turnill
Scorers: Tom Willson
Team: Steve Parker, James Willmott, Gareth Davies, Ben Tragett, Tom Willson, Richard Turnill, Chris Sheldon, Seb O’Leary, Pete Rogers, Freddie Hulbert, Chris Stille, Finlay Wishart, Mark Whitmill
Umpire – Andrew Wishart
Next Game: Next Season
Match Report by Richard Turnill
The finishing position in 3rd place could be changed to 4th when the final outstanding game between 11th placed Gravesham & Wellcome 2nd Xl and current 4th placed Ashford 4th Xl takes place next week.