The Run ContinuesMark Williams
South’s record breaking start to the new year continued with an excellent win against Crostyx - that’s three wins out of three this decade, including two victories against teams we’ve never beaten before and a first win against Nomads since 2014 (yes, I know that was last week - just wanted to mention it again!)
Crostyx were ahead of South in the league table going into the game so would have fancied their chances, despite not having won outside of London this year (yawn…thanks, Dave!) Unfortunately for them, South are full of confidence at the moment and started the game extremely well, making it clear to all that they were looking for nothing less than three points themselves. Some of the hockey South produced in the first fifteen minutes was as good as anything they’ve achieved this year. The passing through the midfield and the link-up play with the forwards was superb, all that was missing was a final bit of quality in the D. Chances came from all over the pitch with Aston, Hockley and Lewis finding all sorts of space on the left and Birch, Pearson and Harrison (Jr.) on the right. The only frustration was that South were unable to score the goal their dominance deserved, allowing Crostyx the opportunity to stay in the game long enough to weather the storm and hit South on the break when they could.
Mid-way through the half however the bubble finally burst thanks to Scott Catley, who produced the game’s best moment with an excellent surge forward from midfield that took him past a couple of defenders to the top of the D where he wasted no time in shifting the ball on to his (favoured?) reverse side to smash it into the far corner of the goal. It was an excellent finish and showed the value of an early strike as soon as you get in the D. Once ahead South grew in confidence and fashioned plenty of half chances that unfortunately weren’t finished off.
Importantly South were also playing well defensively. The press worked really well, forcing Crostyx to chuck aerials from most of their sixteens, and further down the pitch the South defensive unit was patient with their tackling and well organised without the ball. Parsot was making some excellent jab tackles, Birch was unpassable and Harrison (Sr.) and Rimmer pulled the strings and controlled possession with great confidence. Crostyx broke through a couple of times but when they did the excellent Chris Watson saved everything that came near him.
The second half continued in much the same way although Crostyx deserve credit for a sustained period of pressure in the opening minutes of the second period. South looked dangerous on the break but couldn’t find the second goal that would guarantee the points. Frustratingly, when a golden opportunity arrived through a very generous penalty flick decision, Williams couldn’t take advantage, causing an unnecessarily stressful end to the game. South however showed their real strength in the final ten minutes. The work rate was superb, especially with Highfield and Bailey in the middle of the park who worked tirelessly with and without the ball. Despite the vulnerability of the lead, South seemed far more composed than the previous week (when we beat Nomads!) and saw the game out with only a few minor scares.
All things considered this was another excellent performance and a deserved win, leaving South in joint fourth in the league with a healthy six point gap down to the drop zone - not that the team should be doing anything other than looking up the table!
On a beach somewhere far away, Captain Chalk will be doing his pilates with a big smile on his face - if he thinks Australia is on fire - he should see Cambridge South!