Words by Paul Lewis
Amongst the sporting pantheon of great comebacks, some stick in the memory; Lasse Viren falling in the 10,000m 1972 Munich Olympics only to get back up and win gold, the Ashes contest and Sir Ian Botham at Headingley in 1981, Dennis Taylor from a re-spotted black the final frame in 1985 from 7-0 down, and Wolves storming back from 3-0 down at halftime to pip Leicester 4-3 in 2003. Devotees of Adel Men’s 1st XI have another one to add to that list as the brave men in black defied the odds to come from behind not once, but twice at Goodwin on Saturday.
Sheffield University Bankers 4th XI might not sound like an intimidating prospect, but with a number of recognised first team squad members missing, this could have been a potential banana skin of a fixture. The lack of availability even led to Coach Walker naming himself on the team sheet. Administrative difficulties also led to Adel donning their home kit whilst the hosts took to the field in their white away kit.
The match began at a furious pace, with the home side exerting lots of pressure on the unfamiliar backline. Debutant Dan “Jaap Stam” seemed confident enough but an inauspicious start ensued when he fired a defensive hit out straight to a Bankers attacker. In the resulting melee, Bankers took the lead to rock Adel early in the season.
Undeterred, the visitors began to show some class and took control of the game. The Solihull Xavi exerted control of the midfield and dictated the tempo. With willing runners all around, and Ben Hendley returning after a sabbatical in women’s hockey, Adel scored two before the break. Watkins grabbed the first after hard work from Hemming, Hendley and Evans amongst others. The second from a familiar penalty corner routine, Hendley finding Hemming who deflected home to secure the halftime lead.
Following the break the Bankers came out firing. After the hard work of the first half, holes appeared across the park and soon the Adel defence were chasing shadows as a quickfire double salvo from the Steel City side saw them re-take the advantage. In recent memory, games like this have slipped away from Adel, but an inspired change of shape from Walker saw Fletcher join Hemming to fill midfield.
This changed the momentum of the game and Adel began to push back against the onslaught. Kastelik had the opportunity to redeem himself for his earlier error and did so with a flourish, first a spectacular drag flick finding the right hand side of the net and he followed up with a second penalty corner seven minutes from time that was slipped and returned to him by Hemming – joy unbounded for the Adel faithful as the end of the game approached. Some sterling work at the back by Richards, Lewis and Kastelik saw the game through, and there was still time for Argile to miss the simplest chance of the match as he was put clean through by Hendley. However, 4-3 was a satisfying result and all of the Adel players could reflect on a job well done.
The team moves on to next week and will be playing their showpiece opener on the new pitch against a Slazengers side who will be out for revenge following the pre-season thrashing they were dealt. We encourage new friends and old to come and help make our refurnished home a fortress.
As ever, thanks to the match officials and loyal Ultras who watch us home and away.
MoM – Kastelik for a strong debut and recovering from a shaky start to win the game.
DoD – Argile. My Nan could have scored that.