Hockley 1 City 0Jim Hockley
Before we start, it’s probably worth noting Dean’s man bun. A fine example of what to do if you’re worried about your hair getting in your eyes and definitely not something that will come back to haunt you if there are no glaring mistakes made on match day; one for another week probably!
Cambridge City 3s were as ever a lean, mean, fighting machine, albeit one with only eleven men when the whistle went. And one that looked slightly miffed to be playing hockey at all. In short, they seemed sluggish to start, their feet caught in the fine new(ish) turf of Wilberforce Road Pitch 2. This was good. This gave us space.
We started brightly, comfortably soaking up their advances and probing their D. New-to-the-forward-line Jamesy, holding his own amongst the experienced sages of Pearson and Lewis, started to create chances. As the first half wore on, City came to life; a response to them finally warming up or the fact that two more players arrived for them, we’ll never know, but they started to get a foothold in the game. Strong midfield dominance and a composed defence typified their game and an ability to ‘pick’ balls in mid-air began to cause damage against our slightly less than decisive passing. However, the aforementioned man-bun-touting defender Dean, alongside Paresh using his wooden stick and Joel (‘now 20% sexier because of his cool scar’) Harrison all rallied together to keep City’s forwards at bay. New boy Scott was a welcome addition to the midfield, settling into the formation with relative ease and contributing to the forward movement. We closed the first half, not in control, but not under pressure. Each team probing the other, but with no real game-changing moments, or points of inflection, to define it.
The half-time talk saw a rousing three-point talk from Captain Chalk, which physically raised the hairs (and buns) on the back of our necks.
The second half was filled with strong counter-attacking hockey. This mostly stemmed from Stu at the back who, much to the stress of the rest of the team and with a complete disregard for the fact that he was often the last man standing, deftly dribbled the ball out from the D to the waiting midfield of Chalky and Will. One such counter started with a ball out of the back (possibly via Tom R) to Dean, who passed to Pearson on the right wing, who squared the ball to the top of the D. Two City defenders were desperately chasing back a rampant Hockley as he positioned himself to receive this pass. The City defenders scuffed their chance, sending the ball ricocheting on to Hockley’s stick, who, although not classically known for his 3D skills, chipped the keeper and then half-volleyed, half-batted the ball into the net over the keeper’s left shoulder. South went one-nil ahead.
Jamesy proved his worth in the forward line in the second halve, acting as a constant challenge to the City defence, culminating in a double barrelled attack first on the left baseline and then from the right baseline. City, to their credit, were awarded two penalty corners, only to be denied by the human crab that is Dean, man-bun serenely distracting the drag flicker and breaking down their set piece. The dying minutes of the game saw Sam OvenSock almost seal the deal when he was found both open in front of D and wanting: missing a square ball as the keeper scrambled around. This was quickly countered with some smart play from the City boys and a rapid strike into our D, a late deflection and a stunning save from Chris, our keeper, to hold our slim advantage and take home the three points at the final whistle.
Overall a confident and deserved win for South, shoring up our position in Div 1 and rounding off a tumultuous first half of the season with a cracking run of great form.