With both sides short of players, the home game against Ashford (Middlesex) was made possible by the loan of 5 players from Tunbridge Wells Vets, who had no match on the day. Two, including keeper Jamie Crawford, played for Sutton Valence and three for Ashford. The game was played on one of Marden’s new Astros as SVHC had limited pitch availability at the School.
The conditions on a wild and windy day caused some difficulties for the players, but Valence should have gone ahead in the first minute when Stuart Bates was presented with an open goal however he could not bring the ball under control. A few minutes later, Valence went ahead with a well-struck shot from Julian Mills which beat the Ashford kicking back. Valence continued to put together a good sequence of passes finding Rupert Humphrey in the dee,
who made no mistake in putting the ball past the newly arrived Ashford keeper. At 2-0, this was an unusually good start for Valence. Play continued with both sides creating opportunities, but with resolute defending, particularly from Valence keeper Jamie Crawford, the score remained unchanged at half time.
After the interval, Ashford seemed to step up the pace with their young forward spearheading some penetrating attacks, one of which brought them a goal to make it 2-1. However, for a long period, further attacks were calmly rebuffed with good defensive work by backs Hamish Dow, Mike Nettle and midfielders Nigel Bardsley and Rory Poulton. Valence also contributed some effective attacks and midway through the half, at a short corner, some neat interplay involving several players found Julian Mills, whose reverse stick flick was slotted into the Ashford goal to make the score 3-1.
During the remaining quarter of the game, Ashford continued to pressure Valence and their reward was a second goal late in the game to make it 2-3. Following this, the last few minutes of the game became somewhat frantic, but Valence managed to hold out to finish as 3-2 winners.
All agreed that the considerable effort made during the preceding week to pull two teams together and allow the fixture to go ahead had been very worthwhile.
Goal scorers: Julian Mills 2, Rupert Humphrey 1
Man of the Match: Julian Mills
Team: Jamie Crawford, Hamish Dow, Mike Nettle, Julian Mills, Nigel Bardsley, Rory Poulton, Stuart Bates, Rupert Humphrey, Rob Cockayne, Duncan Field, Andrew Wishart, Andrew McVarish, Charles Worsfold
Umpire: Nick Willson/Clive Baxter
Match Report by Nick Willson.
The Vets have an away game against Chertsey Thames Valley next week, and hope to play
Canterbury at home on the 6th April.