Hockey Today 10th November 2012

Salisbury 4th XI vs Bournemouth 6th XI

It’s been a week in which I just simply shouldn’t have turned up at training….for two reasons. One: I have a damaged Achilles tendon that I’m struggling to manage, and two: once again there was simply too much standing around in the cold. I dislike that full stop, but because of my age, and the fact that if I stand around too long and then start running (yes…..I don’t do much….I know), but if I do manage to start running, then I know full well that I’m going to pick up an injury in one form or another. I can’t remember a time when I’ve come away from training so disappointed. It was compounded by the very unprofessional way in which players (one in particular, who definitely has the skill and ability to play in a higher team) was ‘poached’ at training to play in the third XI. I understand the need for players to move up into different teams……but it was more the manner in which it was done. I would have thought that if you were taking a pivotal player from another team, then at the very least it would be good manners to contact the captain of that team first of all, and not send an email that is not likely to be picked up until the day before the match…..in my opinion….very poor!!!!

Rant over…………on to the match. We started slowly, with Bournemouth capitalising on the space freely available in the centre of the pitch. They applied lots of pressure, with short crisp passes that we found hard to get near. Timely interventions from the Barrett twins (they’re not really twins….father and son) stopped many of the attacks, with Matt Salmon, our outstanding goalkeeper, performing many great stops, most in the form of sliding out, last ditch saves. One of our lowest points saw a Bournemouth player sneak in behind our entire back line (me as well), while we were all attempting to push up and attack. One cutting pass from the Bournemouth midfield, saw said player through on goal with no Salisbury player even close. Again Salmon made an outstanding save….but as a team we don’t seem to learn about the defensive side of our game. Whose player was he………..who knows? Even now I couldn’t tell you. But somebody must have known, and there were only a few of us busting a gut in vain to get back.

As the half wore on, we managed to get forward a little more, but despite some short corners and some forays into the opponents’ ‘D’, we failed to make our chances count. With the quality on show in the Bournemouth midfield, it seemed only a matter of time before we let one in, but, with still more good attacking, and despite some interesting substitutions (when I say interesting, I don’t mean the players…..just the positions they either come on into, or not as the case may be) we managed to go into the break on level terms.

One team talk later, we came back out (starting the half with 12 players on the pitch……….good job the umpire failed to notice!) and with changes at the back and midfield, we looked stronger and more able to take the fight to our opponents. The game seemed much more even than at any point previously. Because of our slightly more attacking minded line up, the Bournemouth midfield seemed to have dropped a little deeper, giving us a little more space, time on the ball and options for players to pass to. Inevitably, we managed to turn this good spell of play into disaster and ended up conceding a goal. Credit to the whole side, heads didn’t go down, and instead we all redoubled our efforts, throwing players forward and forcing our opponents even further back. With fifteen or so minutes left I was subbed, probably as well given the state of my Achilles, and the team flooded forward, with more than a hint of ‘gung ho’. Thankfully it paid off, with resident explorer Dave Hillier finding the back of the net from a penalty corner. (This time next week he’ll be getting ready to ascend Everest……….no really!!!! Hopefully you’ll be able to follow his progress on my blog.) On level terms, there only looked like being one winner, but the game seemed to run out of time before we had any more meaningful chances. 1-1………. a seemingly fair result. Bournemouth had the better of the play in the first half, with us more than deserving of the second half. All played in a great spirit with good umpiring…..thanks Andy and Will.

Notable mentions……Peter Barrett, for a sterling performance at the back (also ‘man of the match’), and Matt Salmon…..brilliant keeping on numerous occasions, more than a couple of one on ones and my vote for man of the match. Unfortunately for him he was rewarded for his efforts with ‘dick of the day’…………for putting his pads on the wrong way round…….oops! And finally yours truly for a very interesting aerial ball that, while it had the desired height (almost came down with snow on it), the accuracy left a lot to be desired (it didn’t go behind me, and it did at least go to one of my own team……that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

Fordingbridge away next week. Not sure if I’ll be playing (due to injury), but watch this space for news of Dave Hillier’s trip to Everest. Also as well, Salisbury hockey club reunion……..and I can’t wait. I will maybe even do a little report for those of you unable to attend……depends on the scale of debauchery!

Your thoughts are much appreciated..........Thanks!