4th Xl - Snow gone, but snowdrops still here...
and 4s needed to go play and win!!
Kent Open Division 4
Burnt Ash 7th Xl 1 : 5 Sutton Valence 4th Xl
Snow gone, but snowdrops still here.. and 4s needed to go play and win!!
After the snows and frosts that have caused our Skip heartache, as he is also the Fixture Sec (if you do not know), his beloved 4s re-gathered after much rest (and some tobogganing) for the game against Burnt Ash where they were playing in Canary Yellow, which should have made it easier for the umpires to know in the fading light who was who.
It was a late fixture 16:30 pb at Dartford, on a pitch with bounce and which is always open to the winds. With a sprightly warm-up, some witnessed stretching of limbs, some witnessed liberal use of deep heat, and the expected loss of the 'coin toss', SV got going. Instant Attack when they got hold of the ball, with some swift play by the forwards (all 2) and midfield (all 4) caused some chaos and within 30 seconds SV were awarded a short corner. Now the pre-match warmup had revealed some new first strike options where James 'Bear' Willmott seeing off all competition with powerful strikes while warming up Mark (keeper and 3s’ Captain) Whitmill by striking the ball goalward beyond the peer groups eye speed into the goal. Some say there was a smell of fear emulating from Mark, that he was not having to face this barrage at game time. Any case, back to the first SVHC attacking short corner, with Bear (playing CB) and Andrew (playing Sweep) moving up for the Short Corner Attack; the injection was accurate and quick , Bear had time to wind up his stick, and strikes the ball very hard, low left in the goal and backboard , so quickly did it happen the defence never saw the ball, nor their keeper.
SV 1 - 0 up, 60 seconds on the clock and we felt good!!!
SV now started to play some very nice hockey, moving the ball, then player into space to receive the ball, simple passing and attacks on left and right side of the pitch, leading to a second short corner as they pressured the Ash Goal. Now a different routine, Andrew injected to Bear, Bear held the ball a split second and rifled a pass back to Andrew who deflects the ball behind the Keeper and defence. SV 2-0 up, 2 shorts and 2 goals, 100 % strike rate. Valence are now feeling really good, and better still, defence 2, attack 0 within the team.
Now the game is only 5 mins old, Valence are 2-0 up and playing more simple Champagne hockey, but they knew Ash had the ability to score and were defending the line very high, with Geoff, Bear, Nick all playing almost toward the halfway line. The pressure was telling, but Burnt Ash managed to break through, after some concerted effort, and get a goal. Now Valence knew they were in a game. SV 2 - BA 1.
Valence now needed to ensure solid defence and expansive attack, with the same short pass, move game they were playing, but for longer. So, they continued back and forth in the first half.
Second half, they continued to play high, with some great defensive work by Nick, Geoff and Bear allowing this and some form of ‘press’, or more like domination of the field in the opposition’s half.
Bear scored away, taking the opportunity to play high, he went on a run, supported the attack and on receiving the ball on the right side, top D, drilled a ball under the keeper so scoring again.
Dave Lewis scored with a scramble/dribble around the goal, ending with a flick into the goal and side netting, with the umpire ruling a 16, but thankfully, after vociferous exclaim by James Abraham and supported by both SV and BA players, the umpire reversed his decision and gave the goal.
James Abraham now stepped into the famous “near miss” stories, which goes like this. Having chased the ball left/right just short of the 23, he collected a pass from Dave Lewis coming right to left toward the P spot, James lined up left post, struck the ball hard (obviously learning from Bear) and ran off to celebrate toward the baseline fence. Now we all know you never celebrate early, as in this case, the ball heading toward the open goal, hits the left post squarely, bounces off and stays in play. James is now seen, arm raised, celebrating his near miss and trying to avoid a fence collision. Herein is the life lesson.
Adrian now has valiantly played left half, lacking in red wine this week, so down on stamina, like the rest of the team later in second half, having run hard into the D from 23, with bursting lungs and running out of options, Adrian swung hard, lifting the ball towards top left of goal, so enabling him a breather.
At some point during the second half, Chris Jackson was royally struck by the ball which split his shin pads and may have taken a small chunk of bone with it, as we go to press, awaiting on his X-Ray result.
Tired legs with concentration waning, sun had almost set under waning floodlights, Valence managed to close out the game, still playing high, but needing to ensure they held possession and the win.
SV 5 - BA 1
Scorers: Bear x2 (James Willmott), Andrew Wishart, Dave Lewis, Adrian Gander
Team: Dave Lewis, James Abraham, Adrian Gander, Chris Jackson, Duncan Field, Rueben Collingwood, Andrew Wishart, Nick Hall (Capt), James Willmott, Geoff Bell , Mark Whitmill.
Umpire: Brett Angel
The 4th Xl continue their Kent Open Division 4 campaign next week in 2nd position, with three games in hand, with a key local derby home game against K Sports 2nd Xl who are currently in 1st position.