Men’s 5s took a 3-3 draw from Saturday’s tussle with Sheffield Bankers, once again providing the warm-up act for our first team, who will have picked up a few hints and tips from our freestyle champagne hockey. Unlike the 1s we seldom manage “sixty seconds’ worth of distance run”, and every game is a mix of “triumph and disaster”, but there’s never a dull moment. This was only our second draw of the season and even then it was a six goal thriller, with the lead changing hands three times.
Bankers did a lengthy warm up before the 12:00 push back, with a bunch of disappointingly un-hungover students who probably used the extra 90 minutes we’d given them to drink tomato juice, red bull, or whatever it is they do these days to sober up. Memo to Richard… let’s stick to a 10.30 start next time? Bankers quickly went one up with a back post deflection, and it took a while for Adel to get in the game, but the equaliser when it came was a real crowd-pleaser, with u14 debutant George C cutting in from the wing, and squaring the ball for Hedgie to drill a low shot into the corner.
Adel began to boss the game, disrupting the Bankers’ best moves and making probing attacks around the D to win a series of short corners. From one of these Richard Poll – yes that’s not a typo – crashed the ball to the back post, where Tom Alldred deflected off a Sheffield foot and into the roof of the net. 2-1 at half time and looking good, but Adel tired and Bankers began to threaten. Mikey, Murf and the rest of the backline kept them under control, but inevitably they got a couple of shorts, and one of these took a slight deflection from our onrushing defence to sneak in the corner.
Hedgie got his usual green card, can’t remember why, probably just ranting. Then, when it looked like we were heading for a steady 2-2 draw, a nifty bit of skill from one of the Bankers took him into the D to score an audacious goal. 3-2, bummer. With seconds left, Adel launched one final attack. A contested decision, an agonising wait for the umpires to confer, and then the best short corner of the season, route one, straight out to Hedgie for an absolute banger low into the corner. 3-3, trademark forward roll, the keeper in tears, lots of chuntering from the oppo, and only a few moves left to see out the game.
MoM had a few nominees, but rightly went to George for a terrific debut. DoD was a formality: what chance does anyone else have when the man who’s owned it for the last four weeks gets sent off, does another forward roll, and makes the keeper cry?
It’s a big cliche but this was a real team performance, “keeping our heads when all about us were losing theirs”, and “holding on when there’s nothing left except the will to hold on”. Or something like that.
Couldn’t be more proud, well played everybody.