A sunny Sunday at the Adel Astro and as the next generation of hockey players departed from Adel War Memorial after a successful morning of boys under 12 hockey, a team of yesteryear in green and gold arrived to do battle with the veterans from York in the first round of the England Hockey Masters Trophy.
Masters requires your players to be over the age of 40 to be eligible and Adel had some squad selection challenges with the unavailability of some key players who still play at the higher end of the club. As a result stars of yesteryear like Stuart Boomer, Andy Hedge and John Holden were cajoled out of their premature retirements to don the green and gold strip that Adel OAPS adorn in the summer league fixtures.
Dave Akroyd and Andy Miles arrived in a jolly mood having been at a local christening but this was soon knocked on the head when skipper Akroyd realised he had forgotten his astro shoes so a hasty retreat to Bramhope was required. York’s skipper then arrived to announce that they had been unable to locate a qualified umpire and Mark Powley therefore agreed to drop out of the team to pick up the whistling duties with Bridget. This left Adel with a strong squad of 13 still although it then transpired that the York skipper had been economical with the truth as they had a full squad of 16 including several players who play in their 2nd team who are 2 leagues above Adel Mens 1s!
In the opening exchanges it soon became apparent how the game was going to go with York moving the ball around, running off the ball and supporting the player in possession whilst Adel belatedly realised that they had a team of defenders and few forwards to feed. The first ten minutes are best forgotten as York went into a 3-0 lead and double figures looked to be on the cards with keeper Miles perhaps wishing he had stayed behind at the christening. Adel’s woes continued as youngster Giles Primmer limped off with a tweaked muscle and this was further compounded when Scott Wardle in a valiant attempt to stop a short corner on the line, only succeeded in deflecting it in to the net via the palm of his hand which promptly spilt blood all over the pitch. To make it worse for Scott the goal was chalked off for entering the goal above the backboard but perhaps that’s the lesson you get when your son scores the winner for Ben Rhydding against Adel in the under 12s in the morning!
So with Adel now down to the final 11 fit players, York had the opportunity to go for the kill. Instead they took the opportunity to rest key players and allow their bench players to have more of a game. 3-0 at half time showed the spirit and fight in the Adel team with Greg Hilton and Sean Hewitt beginning to have more influence in the middle of the park and veteran Bob Sibley using all his tactical nous to continuously position himself in the right place and start to distribute the ball out of defence with more authority.
The second half saw Adel continue to work hard and retain some shape and composure with Carl Agar-Brennan’s long reach often making a last ditch tackle to keep the York forwards at bay. Nick Cooper continued to thwart the York right winger and offer width for Adel to create attacks down the left hand side. Then against the run of play a quick ball out of defence from the excellent Nic Crocker was picked up by Dave Akroyd on the half way line. His first touch (which was actually more of a mis-control of the pass) took him past the last York defender and he had a clear run towards the D where the York keeper was awoken from his slumber and about to have his first taste of action for the day. As the keeper came out to meet Akroyd, the evergreen Andy Hedge had ghosted up from the left wing to take up a position that every coach tells forwards to do in this situation. Akroyd delivered the pass to perfection and Hedge did the rest in putting the ball into the net for his first goal in over a decade.
15 minutes to go – the comeback was on, the Adel green and gold army was ready to take one final push to the opposition in their quest for glory. Well not quite, York brought back their stronger players, went up the other end and slammed one past Andy Miles who had made a series of excellent saves between conceding the 3rd and 4th goals. The final whistle came as a relief to the Adel Masters who now go through to the plate competition. Whether we have 11 fit players for this fixture will be a challenge in itself….