Don't throw drinks at others…
Saturday had all the makings of a classic game. England were storming forward on multiple fronts: Twickenham, Auckland and Brisbane. Cambridge South M1s were playing at the Lee Valley National Hockey Centre, the home of UK hockey and as good as it gets for our devoted away supporters. After a slightly awkward warm up in front of the tea room (there must have been somewhere more appropriate!) we were ready to take on Crostyx M1s in what proved to be a giant-toppling (well, stagnating) battle. In a ridiculously tight league, Crostyx were in pole position with seventeen points. However with only only goals separating the highest from the lowest goal difference and every other league’s top placed team on over twenty-one points by now, Crostyx were on a not-so-high perch ready to be knocked off.
South started brightly, attacking well and comfortably absorbing Crostyx’s advances, almost capitalising on this with a scrappy chance created by Chalky and Wizard squandered at the goal mouth. All good stuff. Mariano at centre half settled into his new role and began to link nicely with Aston, Hockley and Pearson. Crostyx, although not dangerous in the midfield, were aggressive in the D and soon earned themselves a string of penalty corners. Rosselli, in usual fearless style, chased these down, deflecting numorous direct strikes and drags. However after someone shouted, ‘That’s all they’ve got!” Crostyx promptly pulled a nice right-slip, back to P-spot, slap, routine out of the bag and it was one-nil. Shortly after, a second scuffle in our D resulted in a penalty flick being awarded, which Jason could do nothing to stop. South worked hard as the half drew to a close and Bhav even had time to practise his hitting, almost knocking the umpire to the ground with his yet-to-be-perfected aim.
At two-nil down at half time South could have given up, resigned to the fact that The Valley was not ours for the taking, that a lowly regional team from the backwaters of East Anglia could never succeed at such lofty venues as the National Stadium. But we didn’t. With roaring Lions drifting on the four winds, South upped their game. The team rallied round; comfortable and confident in their fellow team-mates’ abilities, they took a step forward and met Crostyx head on. In the second half, South dug deep, using their twelve players to maximum effect with everyone putting in a full shift. Jack Chalk quickly found the ball in the opposition D with two players surrounding him. He ducked, he dived and then he did his trademark spinny-thing and slotted it into the bottom right past the keeper. Two-one. Minutes later, a well worked attack from midfield, with Mariano sending another penetrating ball into the D, saw a deflection off Pearson ricochet into the net. Suddenly we were level and the game was afoot. Fifteen minutes remained on the clock and South worked hard to quash everything that Crostyx threw at them. Owen had a cracking game running the length of the pitch and supporting the forward attack; earning him MOM. As the game came to close, a series of probably six penalty corners went against South, making for a tense finish to a hard worked two-two draw. England would have been proud.