After many over sized meals, glasses of mulled cider, and days spent doing very little (or making chutney in Sam’s case) during the Christmas break, our first game of 2018 was going to be a challenge vs Sheffield Uni Bankers. They have got some good results against teams higher up the league so we were going to have our metal tested to keep our unbeaten run going while carrying round the extra Christmas calories.
Availability as always for the phwoars was excellent as we were able field a full squad of 16. In the absence of Nic Crocker we had Jim Cockburn making his return to Adel hockey after many months out from a broken collarbone (I think), alongside the stalwart player of Bob Sibley. You can tell Jim is an empathetic player who works hard for his team as he made our oldest player do the man marking for 70 minutes straight while he covered the open spaces… Never the less they both had a great game keeping us out of trouble on more than one occasion.
The game started slowly but both teams were able to apply pressure to the oppositions D. Adel’s strength came down the wings while Sheffield made their advances through the middle. Adel won some early short corners, the first was played to Cannon V3.0 due to a poorly aimed injection from myself. He made the most of it though and took a sterling shot that was deflected wide at the far post. The second saw Allan make a great pass, again to the back post where Sam Ellis just missed out on scoring a deflection.
After some close calls with Milesy making cracking saves to keep the goaline at 0-0 we were eventually… “rewarded”… with the weirdest goal ever. It came from Matt Brown making a solid drive from midfield into their D who then went to shoot, a Sheffield player got onto the ball and tried to clear it off the backline but then I think their keeper went to save it as well. From the ensuing madness the ball managed to bounce up and roll over the line. I have absolutely no idea how it ended up in the net but it meant we went into halftime with a lead which always gives a good boost to morale.
We were going to have our work cut out in the second half unless we picked our game up to a better standard. Fortunately Joe and Milesy were able to rally everyone together and our second half saw us play some excellent hockey after spending most of the first half passing to open spaces and losing the ball from poor play on our part. 10 minutes in and Charlie Sutton stepped up to take our score to 2-0. He firstly had a shot saved and pushed wide, he then picked it up and instead of playing it back to the p-spot where support was available, he went for an absolute firecracker of a shot into the bottom corner. Always good to a see ambition in the youths of today, even when it’s completely unnecessary. Credit where it’s due however, it was a cracking first goal of 2018 but he still took a fine for the ridiculous angle.
Sheffield then turned up the pressure and got a goal back after Milesy made a super stick save but then their forward was in the right place to pick up the ball and lift it over and into our net. Several more chances came and went for them with a couple of short corners in quick succession. Eventually Craig Smith managed to clear our lines and get us back the possession we lacked for a worrying amount of time.
The final 15 minutes saw a good chance to put the game to bed. After Luke Taylor and Allan Carvalho linked up excellently between themsevles, we saw them both 2 on 1 with the keeper. Luke, being as unselfish as always made a pass to Allan, who then returned the favour instead of taking the shot himself, with a diving back stick deflection we all thought Luke had managed to give us a great goal to see the game off. As we all rose to celebrate there came the unmistakable sound of a hockey ball pinging off the post. Huge disappointment all round for Adel and even bigger sighs of relief from Sheffield as the game could still go either way.
The final few minutes were tense as the play was a constant battle in the midfield, thankfully Adel did have the upper hand slightly as Sheffield struggled to break past Andrew Grindrod in the midfield. A free hit was awarded to Adel which Joe took very quickly while half the Sheffield squad stood there shouting “are you joking?” for some reason. Pun master Luke then chimed in with “No, that’s Joe Morris” as we watched him drive straight into the opponents D and slot home our third goal at the near post in the closing minutes which all but guaranteed we’d walk away with the spoils. One last chance came after I broke from the middle, got tackled, won it back, and got a cross away to Charlie at the top of the D who just missed the ball as it whizzed harmlessly underneath his stick.
The final whistle went and that sees our 29th win from 31 league games with 0 losses. Considering the challenge Sheffield gave us, only conceding one goal is a good result as we shake off the rust from the holiday break. MotM was close between lots of players as there were lots of positives all things considered. Charlie got a smattering of votes for a brilliant goal and being a team player more than usual with good passing. Andy Grindrod for holding our midfield like a champ. Milesy got a couple for his excellent saves throughout the game. Bob didn’t actually get any votes but it has to be noted that he stopped Sheffield more than once from breaking 2 on 1 against Milesy with perfectly timed tackles. There were others beside but I’ve lost the bit of paper they were written on. In the end it Andy Grindrod took the medals for his stellar performance in the New Year.
DotD started off quite close in the voting between myself for deflecting a ball into my own face, Jim for making Bob do all the hard work in defence, Joe and Ben for helping themselves to teas before the opposition, and finally Luke Taylor for missing the aforementioned sitter whilst nearly leaving a cannon sized dent in the lovely Adel pitch after making a superb run from midfield. While the voting started off close, Luke quickly walked away with it and took the flowery medal home with him.
Next week sees us making a long, arduous travel away to Adel as we take on our 5th team in an all Adel derby (Paul has told me we can’t claim fuel which is totally unfair for the people who will have to park round the corner). The game is all set for the final match slot of the day at 4:30pm so we hope to see a good turnout of support for both teams in what is always an exciting affair. Sideline refreshments are encouraged to ensure the support is as raucous as possible. Onwards as ever for the mighty phwoars.