Sils storm Stone
This match deserved a report. Read me.
Sometimes a match report just needs to be written.
Whether it’s for the last game before Christmas break, giving cause for reflection.
Or a stunning 7-0 win over Stone giving reason for celebration!
This report is of course for both.
The 3rd XI finally break a short run of underwhelming, undeserved losing results since mid-November. We are a side that always give any opposition a very tough game, the League’s leaders have scraped only narrow victories against us, so it was inevitable that if we could put together a performance that reflected our potential, then sooner or later someone was going to be on the end of a thrashing. And a wet and wild thrashing of Stone it was.
With the pitch thawing rapidly but covered with puddles, the umpires agreed to get the game on in so far as safety would allow. Experienced Sils lost the toss [!!], and when Stone elected to have the ball, made sure that the teams swapped ends so that the quicker drying wing of the pitch was our right hand side in the first half. Stone were shocked and didn’t really grasp what we had realised, as Sils quickly got to grips with a pitch which needed concentration and commitment to every puddle bound pass and splash tackle. The conditions were atrocious but it was SIls who got on with it and made use of the drier patches on the right wing. And it was Sils that built a two goal advantage in the first twenty minutes while Stone were trying to get the ball out of their puddle-ridden half.
Sils line up was a mix of familiar experience and youthful intent. Think Tony J, Gary P and Shaun B providing a very solid and mostly mobile defensive trio with the lively and alert Jacob Webb, grown in confidence over the past few weeks with the 4s, playing very well at left back. Think Nick O, John R and Simon R in midfield, joined by the incredibly effective and energetic Charles Pottinger, Alex Milne, Matt Rice and Calum Rice. But perhaps the biggest impact for the 3rd XI was having a striker who makes themselves available high, has ability to retain the ball and get in the dangerous ‘D’ positions: Andy Rush made a real difference. And it was Andy R who created when he put a square ball across the face of the goalkeeper after some excellent skills in a tight ‘D’ situation, and the presence of mind to find the lazy but alert Captain, Nick O to tap in from at least three feet, 1-0! Several minutes later, same Nick O doubled the lead with a powerful strike from the top of the ‘D’ after an interchange of passes that had started on the right wing, transferred to middle and then the left channel, with a sweet injected ball from the industrious midfield, Simon R.. Sils were on fire in attack and took full advantage through the 1st half to keep pressure and passing that exhausted the opposition with a 3-0 lead at half time, thanks to Matt Rice taking his first of two goals for the afternoon.
In the 2nd half when the pitch started to dry out properly, Stone regained their composure. There were opportunities for Stone, there always are for any opposition, and it took an alert and attentive defensive unit to ensure that we conceded no goals. Defense has been good so far this season for the 3rd XI, our experience and distribution coming from Tony J and Shaun B is key, but the real magic I’m sure they would agree is in Ben Rice who had another wonderful game showing sound judgement on a number of clearance kicks, shepherding the ball safely off the pitch where required and making no less than three stunning shot stops that drew admiration from opposition bench and spectators. ‘He’s only 14’ we told them, obviously very proud ourselves to have such a developing talent.
And he’s only one of the Rice talents that were marauding the pitch today. With Calum, Matt and Dad John all enjoying good possession, it was quite a family affair. This mix of legs and wisdom, enabled Sils to attack freely and with good linking play despite the wet conditions. The ball moved from side to side of the pitch, through Matt, Calum and Simon R, allowing Sils to build some majestic attacks both from wide and through the middle of the top of the ‘D’. This was Good hockey, not just OK.
With Andy Rush making his season debut for the 3rd XI [Ed: OK, yeh, you’ve made that point already!] there was a target for these attacks, and Charles P., Simon R., Matt and Calum R. were finding the balls to unlock the Stone defense [Ed: Hmmm! we’ll let that one pass this time only]. Indeed, the interchanges between Charles P. and Andy R. especially proved very rewarding and working together they created a series of chances in both halves. Charles P. deservedly voted Man of the Match by his peers who recognized that in a game where 5 players scored goals [Nick O, 2; Matt R. 2; Andy R, Calum R and Shaun B], it was Charles who played the unselfish part of provider in at least four of the goals, providing a tap in for Calum Rice after a fantastic through ball from I think John Rice, maybe Rushie, gave Charles a one-on-one with the keeper which he then slipped the ball to Calum and an open goal; and in another, a beautiful drive with great skill to the baseline and slip across the face of goal for Andy Rush to get in front of his man and apply a deft finishing touch to the back corner which was Goal of the Day for sure. This was not just Good hockey, it was Great!
Our well worked short corners yielded dividend finally with Shaun Bates finishing off a well worked routine that we have now being practicing on Tuesday nights [well one Tuesday night so far …]. I expect that in our 2018 matches we will build on our short corner success with more practice and clinical execution. Thanks, Shaun, for keeping us on point, and driving us on the pitch this first half season. I’m not the only one who may have observed that Shaun’s vociferous approach I think helped dry the pitch this afternoon ;-)
Everyone enjoyed this game – of course, when you win 7-0, but especially for the camaraderie and team play that we achieved. Thanks to you all for that, as it felt good to finish this half of the season on a real high. Let’s carry that spirit through to January when League matches resume on 6th January.
Everyone who has played their part in 3rd XI this season so far, have a very relaxing and peaceful break and wish you all the best, the best in health, in every endeavor for 2018.
Have a good ‘un.
Nick aka Nobby