South lined up in their last pre-season game with some of the squad wondering when the mid-season break was coming. Rumours were that Harry Chalk was on his way but, just like the summer sunshine, he never came.
The game started at a high pace with South holding on to the ball for long periods. Bury set a high press which galvanised South into some slick play to work up the pitch. Bury probably started the stronger team but were wasteful with a number of short corners going wide or being broken down by a firm defence.
Half time saw new coach Paul remind the team to increase the ball pace and keep making runs into space, encouraging the strikers to keep their movement across the pitch. The advice worked and South pressed hard from the start of the second half, winning some shorties and getting into the opposition D numerous times. A well worked long corner resulted in a dramatic dive from Rimmer (more of that to come later in the game) and (new) Harry slotted home from the resulting corner. Four goals in two games is a decent start for the new man.
The game continued to open up in the last ten minutes, with Colin throwing a variety of aerials around the pitch at leisure, and strong tackles coming from both sides. Bury continued to play a very appealing style of hockey but with little to show for it as Jason swatted away every effort on goal.
Man of the match was firmly snapped up by Jason, with honours even between Owen (for his two minute breather late on) and Graham for lemon.
Which brings us to the "big man" himself.
Some say…he has grown in the last year, and knows how to score goals but, having witnessed very little of either in recent weeks, we can only reflect on his past performances.
I'm reliably informed by our web site (we have a web site?!) that Graham does know how to play hockey:
has been in the top two for goal king in 5 of the last 7 seasons, with some extended periods of injury in between
he's appeared for the club in 136 games
he's scored 118 times (and apparently missed some too)
he's been both Clubman of the Year and 1st XI Player of the Season too.
Graham, thanks for your time with South, we wish you well as you head to the far east next week.
The plan was fine. You couldn't fault the plan.
Meet at the Cambridge Blue at 7pm for a post-game team-bonder. Burger, a few pints with the lads, some gentle camaraderie and home by midnight, all ready for a quiet Sunday spent relaxing with a selection of exotic soft fruits.
If there was a problem, I guess you could say that we adapted to new circumstances badly. The plan was rather predicated on the burger. The lovely, beer-absorbing burger. The food of the gods, on which many an M2s team social is based. The fact that the Blue wasn't serving food on Saturday night came as something of a blow. The cunning solution of 'let's just have crisps?' did seem bold at the time, not least because our ex-Royston contingent had already been 'out' since teas, and our game had been at 1.30pm.
So it was that Oven's spectacles later ended up in the region of NBM's *insert something that sounds a bit like spectacles*, subsequently re-appearing from his trousers less one of the lenses, which still remains unfound notwithstanding a rather thorough personal search in the Grain Store. Even later, Jack Chalk and I were to be found in the Regal, engaged in a battle of whom could dance the more awkwardly, a competition in which I assure you there were no winners.
Prior to that, we'd ground out a gritty 0-0 at Long Road against a decent Bury St Edmunds outfit. The first half was a relatively even affair of few chances, and our half-team team talk was based around the need to be just a little more patient in possession and then domination would surely follow. We managed this for three or four minutes before becoming under siege for the remainder of the game.
Darren was our standout performer, with one double-save a real highlight. The defence also managed to deflect a couple of other goal-bound efforts and for the most part did so with our sticks. Chris Matson was a lucky boy. That's all I'm saying.
After the game, James Mathews somehow avoided a lemon vote despite breaking the sacred rule that no more than an absolute maximum of three can be allowed in the Long Road showers at any one time, lest we all suffer. That man needs to study his Jeremy Bentham.
The M3s' final pre-season fixture - with a twelve-strong squad, albeit with only eight names - started with waiting at Long Road for a goalkeeper to arrive who was already at Bury playing for the M4s! The Long Road traffic works did their best to ensure that the team arrived late but fortunately the previous matches were overrunning. Once Matt (K) arrived, positions were established and the new players introduced (another Matt, two new Ashes, 2 new Alexes and a pair of Doms), whilst warming up for what was expected to be a closely-contended battle.
South started well, moving the ball freely and using both sides of the pitch effectively to create opportunities to attack the D but unfortunately didn't produce much final product, until a rebounded shot looped high in the air for Ash D to swat home. One umpire awarded the goal, whilst the other gave a free hit to Bury; fortunately, the final decision was a goal! Bury offered little to threaten South's defence except when passes went astray but Neil was always there to ‘hustle’ his opposite number off the ball!
A riveting half time team talk saw Jan suggesting players needed to not look where they are going whilst dribbling with the ball. This seemingly confused everyone until he eventually explained the need to look in more than one direction for finding the next pass, to avoiding making the obvious one!
The second half saw a well constructed attack eventually leading to a bullet of a goal from Dom N (despite his previously having a huge air shot from three yards out with no keeper to beat). Bury soon came back and scored with an early strike through a gap in Matt S-G's pads on his near post: not one to remember. South continued to pass the ball around but tired legs and brains saw an increase in the amount of errors made. Fortunately Bury were content with giving South's defence short corner defence practice without ever looking too much like scoring!
The final whistle blew with what felt like a well-earned two-one victory, which was a fair reflection of the game (without counting the number of short corners). The teams met at the nearby Woolpack pub for post-match teas where Jan tried his hardest to befriend the locals by falling off his stool and knocking their drinks over, earning him LOM. A positive day to end pre-season with things to work on, but a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for the forthcoming league season.
I'll keep this reasonably brief. If you want more details see last week's report.
An unfamiliar but strong side met at the unearthly time of 08.15 hours to travel to Culford School and face a mixed Bury St Edmunds team. It's always nice to play Bury - they are a friendly club who play in the right spirit - and today was no exception. We were on the School Pitch, and not the Walled Garden Pitch, which as the crow flies is next door but as the hockey player walks is the long way around the wall.
The game started with decent enough opening play from both sides, feeling out the opposition. We felt we were building pressure until, somewhat against the run of play, we went one-nil down. A Bury forward ran into the circle with the ball and nutmegged Matt. Disbelief throughout ensued. Matt apologised, but he needn't have as he couldn't see. A few short corners and the odd one-on-one aside, there was just time for a lunar-orbit squarial from JJ before the half-time reset.
Quicker and more composed finishing was the call at half time and we were soon level. Dave's shot from a short corner was saved by the decent-at-stopping keeper, only for Rob to pounce on the rebound. JJ was kind enough to acknowledge no touch from him as the ball passed into the corner. Evens. We went ahead shortly afterwards with a good team goal. A break from the right found Rob quite deep, who had choices from willing runners. A pass to Wilco was quickly dispatched to Simon, bearing down on goal. A little luckily, the opposition keeper bumped into a defender which cleared the path for Simon to run the ball home. He still had a bit of work to do so credit to how he played the chance out.
The tide was definitely in our favour now and, winning lots of ball high up the pitch, we were applying almost constant pressure. On the whole, the home team dealt with it quite well. Frustrations were building a little as we were forcing the ball, epitomised by JJ's mega-aerial which launched the ball from the twenty-three out of the ground. Time stopped not only to find another yellow ball but also to let this rocket come down. We were trying too hard.
The final goal come with an attempted pass around the back being unfortunately intercepted by the Bury striker. He drove directly at the South goal and, as Matt went down to close the chance, was able to lift the ball over the keeper and home. Not again!
There was time to manufacture a handful of further chances, most of which were scuppered by good defending or ended up in a poor choice of finish. This summed up the game a bit. We should have been more clinical both as individuals when the chances arose and as a team. Something to bring to next week when we welcome Newmarket. We also welcome our skipper, John, to the side for his first proper outing of the season. Let's show him how the team's passing and shape has improved and finally come away with the win we've deserved.
Thanks to Bury for a great fixture and the two umpires for allowing play to flow nicely. An enjoyable encounter and most definitely another worthwhile preparation. Food at the Woolpack went down a treat. It was, after all, almost lunchtime now.
MoM went to JJ for good energy levels and quality assists, though Ian was second for another solid game. LoM went to JJ for ridiculous aerials. After the game our most loyal supporter, Elijah, observed, "My dad, Dave, did a roly-poly."
Unfortunately, Bury St Edmunds Men's 7s were a no-show because apparently they were playing Cambridge South M4s at the same time.
We actually ended up having a pretty fun 6 v 6; and tees at Queen Edith pub were quite enjoyable, with entertaining conversation with the American barkeep!
Full match report will be designated tonight - at our first Ladies 1s social of the year! (Don't be late as it may be you!!!)
Return of Alice Hug- no one wanted to come in our car because she scared everyone!
We went one-nil down after the first few minutes due to a little bit of complacency and some fiery umpiring! We fought back hard with three goals before half time.
BS 2s were fiercely competitive and showed us how to press hard and force play. Fortunately, we could match them with one on one skills and some lovely passes.
Izzy and Alice two a piece. Amalia with a green for not retreating five metres!
After much checking of names whilst huddling in the changing rooms hoping the flood would pass, a team full with 50% new players was reluctantly coerced out of the shed on to the pitch for a brief warm up/pre-match soaking.
Despite losing the cosy Sneady-shed toss, we made for a spritely start, getting in some nice passing, dominating possession and putting pressure on Bourne's D. After lots of chances, it was Alice who carefully carved the ball through a sea of defenders off her reverse, into the goal for our first goal of the season. A suitably impressive start to scoring!
A small drama occurred with the ball being lifted by the Bourne victim into her own nose during a heated defence of yet another of our attacks. Noses always are dramatic!
A prolonged period of more great team work, (seemingly) eventually resulted in the ball coming from our hard-working midfield to be fed to Emily, who slotted in our second goal. A real team goal!
Jelly babies and Haribo Sours consumed, we set out for the second half hoping to emulate more of the same. In reality, we came back out rather soggy and cold whereas our opposition returned revived by the return to the pitch of their injured captain. It was a much more even second half, with our defensive back line pushed back to our own D rather than near the halfway line. Eventually Bourne broke through to slip it around Lydia to come back to two-one, having taken it all around our D beforehand. Not long after this, a South foot intercepting a ball en route to our goal triggered the excitement of a flick! But fear not - Lydia obviously deftly saved it!
For a short time South lets our heads drop a bit and possession was more equal for a period. However, consistent simple passing, switching and retaining of possession resulted in the ball coming from midfield up the right, for Lauren to cross into the top of the D. The ball deflected towards Rebecca, who neatly slotted in our third goal. It was good to come back and finish strong, dominating possession, having lost our momentum a bit in the second half.
Overall a very exciting, promising start to season, with great team work throughout the game, only damned by the cruel weather! Despite strong contention from "lost keys" shortly discovered in a pocket…and hooking of sticks in football netting whilst retrieving balls…the weather was the eventual Lemon vote-winner. However, The Man of the Match was more of a runaway victory for Alice, but two votes for Lauren and single votes for Maria, Rebecca and Laurie reflected the strong team performance.
Special mention must also go to our sole intrepid supporter, Charlotte's Dad, who also gamely (and successfully) orchestrated my colourful but convoluted fifteen-man-subbing-strategy from the cover of the golfing umbrella! Your help and support was greatly appreciated!