The end of season indoor play-offs came with an exciting change to the format, allowing each side a chance of winning the championship. South finished bottom of the league in the 2016-17 season by winning a solitary game and lost the 5th/6th place play-off to finish the lowest. Would this season be any different? South had again finished bottom and winless despite playing better hockey and losing games narrowly. Could finals night be the catalyst for the results to change? Read on!
Captain Nevin Warren had small squad of seven South indoor players to go into the marathon three games of finals night. Although the games were only effectively half a regulation game at 8 minute halves, the stop-start fashion and tighter scored games would mean the intensity would be higher than before. One substitute in the squad is not ideal for the attrition that lay ahead. South set-up for the start and ahead of them lay the 2nd best regular season side Perse Staff. Game on!
The Captain's decision to start with an unfamiliar Christmas tree formation in order to stifle the front three was in hindsight an awful one! Perse staff regularly made advances into the circle and it was only the advent of goal line clearances from Oliver "Wizard" Lamming and saves from George Toynton that kept the scoring down. On the moments where the Opposition were caught, Tournament super-star Harry lewis probed and punished. One break-away goal split from an Ali Edge pass gave Harry a sniff and he pulled a goal back for the good guys at 3-1 for the break.
Harry then doubled his tally at the beginning of the second half with a great solo goal that brought South back to within one. However, a penalty stroke given away for a flying clearance from Wiz with his chest meant that the Staff could put the game to bed. The stroke was dispatched with gusto as it kissed the upright in the top-corner. 4-2 with four minutes to play. Harry tried his best to narrow the deficit with the Perse GK pulling off three fantastic saves to deny him.
The game fizzled out with the Staff side keeping South at bay like an older sibling holding you back with one arm and taunting with the other. Beaten by the better side South walked off and set the plan for the rest of the evening in place!