Advantage Sutton Valence….
Unplayable Grass and Warm Spirit moves Vets game 61 miles.
Any betting man would have had difficulty forecasting the outcome of this game, with Wimbledonians rarely beaten on their home grass, but sportingly agreeing to switch the game to Sutton Valence due to it not being playable currently. The same betting man would have had even less chance of coming up with the sources of Valence's eventual win, though they were both memorable.
Wimbledonians were two players short before the game, though one was on his way, delayed. Valence therefore loaned them Julian Mills for the whole game, and Charlie Worsfold for about the first 10 minutes.
Valence started briskly with good combining between the halves and forwards with Lyndon Davies particularly active receiving crosses from both Roger Fermor on the right and Rupert Humphrey on the left wing, with three good attempts within the first 5 minutes either blocked or just wide. Wimbledonians were also breaking out and came close twice in this period. Valence then won a short corner only to see Rupert Humphrey's strong strike blocked and then the boot was literally on the other foot as Valence keeper, Dave Britton had to kick twice to clear a Wimbledonians' short corner.
The game was by now developing into a much more even one, but when Wimbledonians got on the score sheet first, from a great strike having broken through Valence's able defences, it seemed a little against the early run of play. 0 : 1.
This set-back rattled Valence a little, and the last 10 minutes of the half had Wimbledonians upping their pressure as they saw Valence's earlier clean stopping and passing becoming a bit more rushed and less accurate, or defenders being caught holding onto the ball too long.
The early second half saw the visitors start as they had finished the previous one, putting the Valence defence under pressure, winning a long corner and nicking the ball from Hamish Dow as he tried to dribble out of defence. Then Valence started to rally, Bob Sagrott, Hamish Dow and Mike Nettle once more became much more solid, whilst Nigel Bardsley and Andy McVarish really started to combine to distribute the ball much more effectively. Amongst the forwards there was some good picking up and passing between Stuart Bates, Rupert Humphrey, Lyndon Davies and Roger Fermor, and Dave Ewen having a much more effective game. It was therefore great to see Valence's first goal coming from Ewen, a clean strike in the D, and his first since returning to play this season after 35 years! 1 : 1.
The game was now up for grabs, and it developed into a question of which keeper would keep the ball out as both sides came close in open play; Nigel Bardsley's strong short corner shot was blocked and Dave Britton smothered a shot, and the shooter!
In the final ten minutes Charlie Worsfold replaced Dave Ewen up front and with five to go he picked up the ball not far from the centre-line and dribbled past four or more defenders into the D to score with a cracking shot! Well, not really, but he did well to get his stick on a strong strike in from the edge of the D by Lyndon Davies to deflect it past the keeper. He assured Lyndon that his shot was otherwise going wide!
Score 2 : 1.
Wimbledonians were not done and in the final minute there was a collective intake of breath as one of their shots whistled across the face of the Valence goal with no one quite close enough to turn it in.
A very even and enjoyable game, played in the true Veterans' spirit.
MOM: Dave Ewen
Goal scorers: Dave Ewen; Charlie Worsfold
Team: Dave Britton, Bob Sagrott, Andy McVarish, Hamish Dow, Mike Nettle, Julian Mills, Nigel Bardsley, Stuart Bates, Roger Fermor, Lyndon Davies, Rupert Humphrey, Charles Worsfold, Dave Ewen.
Umpire: Nick Willson
The Vets continue their Southern Counties' Hockey Conference games next week with an away fixture on astro against Sunbury Red Lions at 14.30.