Mugged in the middle of the pitch by a youngster.
Stu’s call to arms on Saturday morning was immediately answered with a slightly terrifying photo from Tom K (see his current profile picture), but no lack of enthusiasm. Even if some of that enthusiasm was Shin’s keenness for a post-junior training brunch at McDonalds. Four more Saturdays of hockey left, and all of them big games.
South started strong, controlling the play from the outset. Short, sharp passes found purple sticks, as play built nicely from Tom R and Stu at the back, through the midfield to the forwards. Five minutes into the first half, a well-drawn foul in the Norwich City D gave us a short corner, which was dispatched with a strong flick into the back of the net by Tom K.
Two minutes later, Joel found Tom K in space in the middle, whose driving run and reverse stick pass reached Ollie sprinting to the back post from the sub bench, where his first touch of the game put the ball into the backboard to make it two-nil. South immediately resumed the pressure on Norwich from the push-back and it wasn’t long before good passing between Joel and Ollie found Owen in the D, who unselfishly put the ball across the goal for James to tap in.
Further good build-up play put Chris P at the top of the D, who drew his man and slipped the ball to Ollie, once again on the back post behind the keeper, to slot it home. Norwich’s counter-attacks were ably cut out by the long arms of Tom R and Douglas before another good passage of play found Harry L, in space in the D, who skilfully flicked it past the keeper’s shoulder into the top of the net.
The last ten minutes of the half saw South losing the ball with some unsympathetic passing, but Norwich were happy to throw long balls down the pitch and mostly off the backline. The team talk focussed on better balls, getting in front of the posts, and more running. However, within a minute of the half, South’s 5-0 lead was eroded when a simple passing move from the Norwich front line allowed them to tap the ball in behind Darren. Clearly, the opposition didn’t feel the game was lost and weren’t going to go down without a fight.
Norwich had the better possession at the start of the second half, with a lobbed ball over Darren fortunately hitting the bar, and a well-executed short corner putting the ball high and right to make the score 5-2. South weren’t without chances, though, with Pearson hitting the post, and another slipped ball on to the right post found Harry L, who opted to kick the ball into the goal. Dave Aston even had a good strike from the edge of the D, picked off the line by a defender. Some cutting, long diagonal balls from Stu and the back line found our forwards in space, and one more post-bound ball was once again kicked into the goal by Jim, who celebrated with a Harry Chalk-esque axe chop.
South had the final goal of the game, with a driving run from Mike into the corner leading to a good shot on goal. The rebound fell kindly for Ollie to sweep home and finish his hat-trick. The rest of the half was mostly without incident, though James did have to stop for a sit-down after one very young and skilful Norwich player left him dizzy. Ollie also managed to pick up a card for not retreating five metres after a foul.
The game ended 6-2 to South, and results elsewhere put us back up to second in the league. To cap it all off, Aston provided champagne for Stu’s one hundredth game for South (and had clearly had a word with the umpires to also provide a card). Three games to go, and hopefully three more wins!