A result to be relished! After being “Nuked” in the 1st game at home, H&W promised they will have a much stronger side in the return leg. The events unfolded earlier in the week when they were struggling to get a keeper and asked if they can field a young Vets keeper (wonder why) – anything to minimise another drubbing! 😊
After much deliberation we agreed to play the game which would have been cancelled if we refused to play. With no game the week before and an cancellation the week after, Titans weren’t ready to put their feet up for Xmas as yet. We assembled at Paddington Rec to see what team they would put together and to no surprise, it was a totally different line0-up. We had a squad of 15 for the day…..Well that was until the 1st player couldn’t make it due to personal reasons, the 2nd player was feeling ill and not 100%, the 3rd player pulled up injured but the 4th player is the one you really need to read on about. I did ask him to write a match report for the game and he jokingly suggested maybe it should be the DoD. Well, we had about 10 mins pitch time to warm up, roll on 5 mins into the warm-up, this player retires injured.
What happened you all say?….he begins to warm up and on the 4th attempt to stop the ball he deflected the pass off his stick and onto his eyebrow. The injury needed hospital treatment for a nasty gash. I know who would have ended up getting the DoD but he wasn’t there to see the game to put pen to paper!! OK, we will play with 11! We needed to start strong, we moved the ball well. We had to be patient, the back line of Peds, Laurence, Brian & Toby protected Justin to the extent that the cold wintery weather was the only thing affecting him for the 1st 15 mins.
The forever tried and tested midfield trio of Howie, Grandad and Ben were the engines making things happen and the transition of attacks resulted into the 1st SC of the game where the keeper was so keen to block our attack decided to come out of the D to stop the play with his body and didn’t realise that was a foul and a card. With no keeper, the strike was unleashed by El Capitano and it hit the player’s foot and body which resulted into a PS. Well El Capitano was the closest to action so decided to take it – surely he can’t miss, Surely!! Well he did as the player on the line managed to deflect it off!! Heads up, we go again. That miss wasn’t too costly! Soon after we were awarded another SC straight away after El Capitano danced his way into the D and manufactured a perfect ball onto a foot.
This time the strike by El Capitano was hit with such ferocity that no stick or player was going to get in the way. It flew in for 1-0 to the Titans. The game was played with good intensity and H&W were clearly in no mood to accept the deficit and mustered up some great passages of play only for Justin to stand in their way. Half time couldn’t have come quick enough. We were getting tired, a few words of encouragement and clever play was needed. Without any subs we had to make the ball work harder for us and we needed to stay in the game and create further chances as H&W were defiantly knocking on the door. Second half was where we played some of the best hockey of the day. The forward line of Jatin, Greg & Arnie were constantly creating havoc, SC after SC was won but their keeper seemed to be in the way at everything we threw at them. The half time team talk mentioned that the next goal would be critical and it clearly was. Titans were on the ascendancy and we created an attack on our right and another mazy run into the D by El Capitano found Greg waiting on the back post.
It looked like a simple pass across but it somehow trickled itself onto Greg’s stick and with the keeper flattened, it was a matter of slotting in the 2nd for the Titans – 2-0. There were plenty more opportunities created and one fell beautifully into Arnie’s way but the bobble pass evaded the stick and went wide from a great mazy run by Duracell Howie this time. I think there must have been some voodoo around the P Spot as it was now Howie’s turn to miss a great pull back from Jatin’s run on the base line. Midway through the 2nd half, H&W got a SC from one of the many attempts they created and manged to reduce the deficit by scoring their 1st of the afternoon.
With the score at 2-1, we couldn’t sit back and let them get back into the game so we continued to press them back and put pressure on their defence and we strangely scored our 3rd goal which fooled everyone. We changed our SC variation to slip left to Peds who was instructed to push far post for a player running in for a deflection. Peds gets the slip, he moves in to execute the routine, he pushes far post but the trajectory of the ball creeps into the goal far post fooling both the defenders on the line and the Titans player running in – They all count – 3-1 up. Time to shut up shop!! A great result and a complete team performance with everyone making important contributions throughout the game.