As the last of the mince pies dried up and the boxes of chocolates once piled high had been consumed, we welcomed in the new year with a friendly away fixture to mid-table Harpenden 1st XI (of parallel Division 2S).
The pitch was unusually slippery considering that it was not frozen which, in cahoots with our post-Christmas (lack of) fitness, hindered our usual style of explosive attacking hockey. Like many of us, Pearson especially spent much of the game on his backside, finding it impossible to turn at speed.
Some would say that arriving with only two recognised defenders in Tom Rossellini and Dave Aston was risky…and their suspicions would sadly be proven correct.
We conceded three early short corners, which were ruthlessly dispatched by the same chap from the top D, drag-flicking his way in to our nightmares. He was later to bag another. No doubt he will go down in Harpenden folklore.
Going in at half time three-nil down, we dreamt of a come back. We managed to score two in the second half, both scrambling in at the near post under the keeper (Chalky doubling his tally for the season, and Pearson with the other). Sadly, they scored three more in the second half, to give us the spanking we weren't expecting. It is true that we had our chances, but clearly we were far from clinical and our defence was often overwhelmed.
Notable mentions go to Joel for claiming that he thought he was CSHC's all time 8th top goal scorer, with seven goals to his name. This earned him a well deserved Lemon of the match, which was just as well for James as he'd managed to accrue yet another green card, despite it being a friendly! Man of the match went to me for having my birthday on the same day as the match. Tom Kemsley found himself on the losing team early on and is said to have feigned a foot injury to avoid the prospect of losing. Also, a massive shout out to Jim Hockley, for being a legend.
Where should I start? Well, I woke up around 10 o’clock and looked out of the window at a miserable grey sky. So, I slowly crawled out of the bed and got ready for the big game ahead. I thought that the game was going to be so easy even Toytown would be able to keep up with the play.
As I arrived at the pitch there was an unusual thing happening: there was music by the side of the pitch and six South players knocking the ball around, while the L1s were doing drills. As time went on more South players arrived but only two Hertford players arrived. While we were hitting balls at Toytown, the music carried on playing. The rest of the team arrived, apart from Josh who thought turning up on time was a waste.
So, the warm-up. We got instructed by Matt to do a run and the most surprising part of all of this was that George went on the run too, which was a sight on its own. Then came the stretches.
Now the start of the game, as much as Kern is an OCD freak. This time he decided to split the team into two groups and decide the positions relative to where people like to play. But then Kern mentioned that he would start on and then come off within two minutes, which made sense? The game started, and the team started on a par with the other team. After a couple of minutes, Kern came off followed shortly by Josh, which made no sense to me, which made me forget my gumshield, so I said, "I need a gumshield" a couple of times. Then a short corner came and the Hertford team scored a scrappy goal that nobody could have seen coming. After that wake-up call, we fought back with a passion but still could not pull magic out of our asses. But after a long struggle, I (Sev) slapped a hopeful ball into the oppositions circle, which was deflected into the goal by Ed. I mean the ball was superbly placed with the right amount of speed, I mean it was sex on a stick. The game was back on, but before we could enjoy the goal another goal was scored by Hertford. This meant that at halftime we were losing, if some of you don’t understand basic maths.
The halftime talk was very shallow and not informative. The only thing we spoke about is not to sub on immediately but instead give the man a two-minute warning. Plus, some other things that I didn’t listen to as I was thinking about the pizzas after the game.
The second half…well the second half wasn’t any better for me as this time I forgot the most important part of the kit: a stick. As I was celebrating not forgetting a gumshield, I forgot the stick. But for me, this wasn’t the highlight of the game. As the game progressed some more goals were scored by Hertford. By this stage, I forgot how many goals been scored but for those who want to know, Hertford were winning. This was partly due to Neil’s lack of breath and inability to run more than two yards without having an attack of asthmatic coughing. Next Pash hit the post, which made this his best performance, period. Then with ten minutes left on the clock the Hertford winger was through, their striker ready to score as the ball was slipped into the centre of the field. As the ball was hit the stick mercurially fell out of the striker’s hand and slipped between George’s legs. George took a lot of stick for not being able to keep his legs together. Post-match voting compared him to the Grand Canyon. He wasn’t happy. He even tried to slide tackle a winger. After that, we managed to get a short corner which was executed perfectly by Scott, who had an awesome game and performed flawlessly. Minutes after that the game ended and we had lost 8-2. But as it was a friendly we didn’t take much notice of the score, apart from George who hated it.
At the clubhouse, the big gag was about George’s five-hole. But in particular the striker from the other team must have a mention as he was one our Man of the Match selections. Even Nev had a nomination for being the only player to avoid a negative rating (by not playing). The battle for MoM was close but Ed stole the show. The LoM was a close vote between me and George but due to my forgetfulness, I got the LoM this week.
But this is the most important part of the pizza review: for me, the base of the pizza was a little bit too thick. The pepperoni pizza was the best one by far, followed by the cheese pizza. This week I will give the pizza 7 of 10; I was satisfied with the pizza but hoped for more, like with this game.
In brief, the M4s played assuredly though with little pizzazz and were a bit hard done by to lose the game, in what is becoming an all too familiar pattern.
There was more action before the game started than during the first half. Stand-in skipper for the day, the Monckosaurus, turned up on time – for which he nearly won Lemon - Andi bailed hours before the game, Jo played despite being chronically ill and Jelley, who’d flown in with Siberian flu, turned up to ensure we had one sub. Jan was harshly awarded Lemon for arranging flights on a Saturday (and some people still not letting go of making us turn up an hour early at freezing St Ives three weeks ago).
The first half was sedate as both teams tried to discover whether the Christmas excess prevented any actual running. The defence looked solid, midfield were winning a fair share of possession and the forwards passed well, but neither team really threatened the opposition D.
The second half began differently: an unexpected upsurge in confidence for South as they moved the ball with greater conviction, moved off the ball with more urgency and passed with the crispness of a frosty winter’s morn; Jo scampering up the right wing, defying illness; Jelley taking it past players on the left, often finding Oli or Rob with smart flowing moves; John intercepting as if there was glue on his stick; Simon a bustle of energy, winning 50-50s and releasing Paul down the right. Five, ten, fifteen minutes of sustained pressure finally producing a goal: short corner drag flicked in by JJ, on target, but batted away by the keeper; the Monckosaurus wound up for a monumental smash; deflected back out again to the lurking Jelley, who took the ball in the air and into the back of the net. One-nil South, and totally deserved.
The lead was short lived as yet another potential victory was squandered in the final fifteen minutes. Hertford started creating more opportunities, one shot nearly clearing the fence. But the pressure told and a pacy break down the right ended with a sharp cross neatly deflected past an exposed Nelson, who looked sharp all game. As if Hertford had been forewarned of the potential of the M4s to capitulate, they rushed forward with growing confidence. James, the perennial man of the match whether he’s playing attack, midfield or defence, made several significant stops, breaking up threatening advances.
The winner came, eventually, from a short corner. The first shot was defended well, with the ball rolling back to the top of the D for the striker to take another blow. Pete’s brave aggression meant he got a ball in the gut. Was he within five? The umpires felt not, so a second short was given. Again, the initial effort was well defended. Monckosaurus left his post as play broke down, only for the shot to loop painfully past Nelson into that corner. Two-one Hertford.
It was a shame to lose, and to do so in the manner that has accompanied the 4s all season, but it was an ideal game to get the M4s moving post-Christmas. There were moments of real encouragement, and quality from different people all over the pitch. After all the pizza had been eaten and votes counted – James a deserved man of the match again - Nelson declared that he has lost every match he has played so far! Played six, lost six. We could do with that changing in the second half of the season.
Our first match of 2019 and there was a sense of nervousness amongst the South M5s; would those pre-Christmas injuries recur, did I eat too many mince pies, remind me again how do you play hockey?
Fortunately any doubts were soon quashed as the home team made a blistering start against our opposition from down the A10. South dominated the midfield, picking up any loose passes in the opposition half and creating opportunities for the ever-formidable forward line of Rob B, John G and James Y. An early short corner broke the deadlock, the initial strike from Rob B being deflected but only as far as James P, arriving at the edge of the D, who neatly threaded the ball between keeper and post from what looked like an impossible angle. A second followed shortly afterwards courtesy of an assist from Ian M which found John G perfectly positioned to slot the ball past the stranded keeper.
South maintained the momentum until a few minutes before the break when the visitors broke through the seemingly invincible South defence, leaving our ever-heroic keeper, Mike G, to face a one-on-one showdown with the Hertford forward, which alas the latter won. Two-one at half time and everything still to play for.
After some debate over which coloured ball was most 'colour-blindness' friendly whilst still being visible to the large number of visually challenged over-40's on the pitch, the second half got underway.
The home team continued to press hard but the visitors clearly had their eyes on a draw at the very least and keeper Mike G was called upon to make several spectacular saves to keep us in the game. But it was 'double-up' Barton who eventually found the net to give the home team a two goal margin to take us through to full-time.
Several key stats from what was an excellent all-round team effort:
This was our first win since September 2018!
It was Ian M's first win of the season!
We finally managed to be on the right end of a three goal scoreline!
Overwhelming MoM winner was James Yu for getting into some great positions to receive passes from midfield and almost getting his debut goal. A much closer call for LoM between Sean G, for throwing his toys out of the cot, and Howard S, for inexplicably trying to get undressed during a substitution, with the former snatching it by a single vote!
A brilliant start to the second half of the season. Well done everybody, bring on Wisbech Town!
Great job all round.
Over and out.
XOXO Gossip Girlllllllll
Our first goal came in the second quarter after Izzy intercepted a Royston hit out and slipped the ball to Annie, who pushed the ball wide of the keeper.
Annie went for goal number two to put us up to tw-nil at half time.
We passed the ball around and created two-v-ones to cut out Royston’s players.
Jess added two more goals to her tally.
Izzy scored a rocket of a straight strike from a short corner.
Jenny threw in an aerial.
The defence held the back solidly and switched the play well.
Annie finally has an adult-sized stick.
Jess made it through a whole game without hitting Izzy with the ball.
Everyone worked hard and finally burned off their Christmas turkey.
Blow-by-blow of Jess’s first goal, as requested by H. H took the sideline ball, was fouled; the opposition weren’t 5; she took the ball and passed it to Izzy, who ran down the wing, drove to the baseline and pulled it back to Jess; who flicked it into the goal.
Overall, a very good performance and a convincing win over a team that are in the division above us.
It was the first game back after the Christmas break for the L3s team. Everyone arrived on a cold winter's morning to discover that two of our defenders couldn’t play. This meant a change in positioning with the midfields playing a quarter each in the defensive line and the defenders playing the whole duration of the game.
The game began at 10.30 and the L3s seemed more awake than the opposition from the starting whistle. Our first goal came from a great attacking play, with Rhi hitting the ball inches away from the goal only to be stopped by Lauren, who poached Rhi’s goal, making it one-nil.
Unfortunately Royston scored shortly after, with the ball travelling through many of both teams’ legs and into the right corner of the goal. This didn’t stop the L3s as once more we had an attacking opportunity, with nearly all our team having touches in the D as Ali said from the sideline, “Surely this has to go in.” Luckily, Kath scored to make it two-one. The next goal was scored by Emily as she raised the ball past the keeper’s right arm and smoothly into the goal, making it three-one at half time.
After half time the L3s came back still full of energy, with Rhi maybe being too eager as she passed the ball whilst performing a sort of split position, leading her to be Lemon of the Match (despite her effort not to have another LoM by calling herself ‘Thu’).
The L3s continued the attacking play in the second half as Laurie made a great pass to Jasmine, out on the left, with her then passing across the D where Lauren finished the play with another goal. Sadly, just before the end of a strong game Royston got one more goal, which meant the final score was four-two.
Man of the Match went to Hayley for her strong tackles in defence, where she had volunteered to play as we were lacking in defenders, and for also playing equally well when she was back in midfield, which led to her gaining six votes.
Cold match, but warm welcome!
Cambridge South 4s headed to a very cold Thetford for a match against their only ladies' team. The match was played in quarters to allow Thetford to better coach some youngsters making their first appearance. The game started off well, with South having most of the possession. The play was a bit bunched, but South managed to get through and have quite a few strikes on goal. Sadly none got through.
Thetford picked up the pace in the second quarter and achieved a lot more possession. South fought off most, but two of their players managed a one-two around our defence and just out of goalkeeper Loopy's reach, resulting in the first goal.
Play was much more even in the second half. All were eager to keep moving to stay warm. Katie (Man of the Match) managed to get a goal in the last quarter. This left the score one-all, which was a fair result. We then headed to a very good tea. There was agreement from both sides for a future friendly.