As the second League game of the season, but the first one at home, the initial lack of numbers for the first game was albeit forgotten, and the positivity of the responses in relation to players availability was a good indication as to the kind of side Valence were going to be able to muster. However, during the break over the summer, the said players seemed to have forgotten at least 10-15% of the basics skills needed in a game of hockey, and it took a while to shake the sunbeds and swimming pools out of their system, and get them back to the pace of the game.
Burt Ash lost the toss, and Valence, taking the pushback to get the first half underway, were out the blocks quickly, moving the ball around and building from the midfield, but taking too much time to press forward. Ash were well prepared and settled in quickly, and with every attacking move that Valence presented, they had a reply. But Burt Ash were also using their forwards well, and sent searching balls deep into Valence territory, just waiting for a break in the defensive wall. Eventually one such attack resulted in a short corner and the visitors went 0 : 1.
Valence took this well, sticking to the game plan, trying to build from the midfield, but with every attack from them, Ash were returning the ball to the Valence end. The game continued with some nice end to end hockey, however, on one of the attacks Burnt Ash found a Valence stick in the D, it lifted the ball high over the keeper’s head into the back of the net. Burnt Ash now 0 : 2.
Rather than deflate the home team, Valence took this as inspiration, pressing the opposition defence and trying each and every way to infiltrate the D. Finally a great collection of passes resulted in finding Ben Tragett waiting just inside the D, who slotted Sutton Valence’s first into the right hand corner. Sutton Valence now 1-2.
Half time was a brief affair, as there was little to say, Burnt Ash had so far been the better team, but it was just a matter of time before Sutton Valence would start to find their game. So, much of the same required.
Second half saw Valence start well and gain the majority of the possession. but Ash’s defence stood strong, and Valence were not able to convert from the short corners or open play. Then, against the tide, Ash managed to produce a counterattack on which one of their attackers found an Valence foot in the D. The short corner was well executed and Ash went 1 : 3 up.
This ignited some urgency from Valence, and they started to press Burnt Ash more and more. Richard Turnill found himself unmarked in the D and receiving a pass from outside, he made no mistake in sweeping the incoming pass straight into the left corner. Sutton Valence 2 : 3.
Now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, Sutton Valence pressed again and in the resulting short corner a BA defender’s foot stopped the ball on the line. P-flick! Stand-in captain, Chris Sheldon, stepped forward to take the immense responsibility of trying to level the score line, however, the pressure was too much and the ball was sent just left of the post. Valence remained 2 : 3.
There could only be 2-3 minutes left, as Valence realised time was ticking away. In a final Valence and Ash battle a Burnt Ash defender’s foot gives away a short corner. This is pushed out, the shot from the top of the D heading just outside the right post, but is deflected in by Andy Barr’s waiting stick, to level the score 3 : 3.
The match was fair and well balanced, and Sutton Valence snatched a draw from impending defeat. They now look towards their next game of the season, taking on Canterbury Griffins at home.
MOM: Ben Tragett
Scorers: Ben Tragett, Richard Turnill, Andy Barr
Team: Finlay Wishart, James Willmott, Steve Parker, John Edmed, Scott Clifton, Ben Tragett, Richard Turnill, Tom Willson, Andy Barr, Pete Rogers, Chris Stille, Chris Sheldon.
Umpire – Darren Thompson
Next Game: Home - 09:45 am – 12th October 2019 – Versus Canterbury Griffins
Match Report by Chris Sheldon