Assured Performance and two from Tchak sees the Vets gain revenge
By Stephen Tabb
Strong team performance just about sees Sils home
Sils were able to assemble 12 players to take on the Saints of Northampton having played out a cracking game earlier in the season at Moulton College.
Captain Perkins had worked wonders to get the team together during the school holidays - Steve Aylin was doing the honours in goal, Andre Tchakhotine had flown back in from France, Nick Danks had been persuaded to play even though he had just been told he needed a hip replacement, and John Harrison was drafted in to play one of 3 games in 6 days (life in the "old dog" yet - Ed).
The opening exchanges gave a slight mis-representation of what may unfold during the day, with Northampton scoring from their first attack - winning a PC and converting with a thunderous strike and then within a minute, Sils had gone down the other end and equalised with a flowing move culminating in a reverse stick shot from Tchakhotine leveling the scores.
With 2 goals in the space of the first 6 minutes, the teams perhaps could have expected a high scoring encounter, but from this point the Northampton keeper starting making some saves, and Sils became a little reluctant to score! With Simon Russell snuffing out the main threat through the middle from Northampton, and Simon McGuirk doing his usual job of sitting in the underwear of the opposition's centre-forward, ably supported by some crunching tackles from Paul Whitehead, Sils were able to mount a number of attacks.
John Harrison was creating problems down the right, and had two snapshots at goal which did not quite find their way inside the far post; Rich Thurman was his usual mix of inspiration brilliance, mixed with frustrating Nick Danks by not passing to him in space, and there were also further chances for Tchakhotine and John Rice. Half-time came and the score remained 1-1.
A few minutes into the second half, the ball was played out to the left to Stephen Tabb, who turned inside, and spread the play to the marauding John Harrison down the right. He carried the ball forwards two strides, and then picked out Tchakhotine with a smashed cross. Andre received the ball behind him and on the turn, swiveled, and absolutely smashed the ball past the helpless keeper. Sils 2-1 up, but still being hit on the break by the skillful Northampton strike force, though they found Aylin in goal in superb form ensuring he made saves and cleared strongly when under pressure.
At the other end, Sils doubled their lead, another fine attack down the right, with Tchakhotine, Harrison and Rice combining to find Thurman lurking at the far post - he took his time and flicked the ball calmly towards the top left corner of the net.
This should have meant game over, but Northampton were not done yet, and their continued efforts earned them another PC with minutes to go, which again was thundered home in similar fashion to their first. This made for a slightly more tense final few minutes than Sils would have hoped for, but they held on to the lead, and finished 3-2 up.
As is customary, much chat was held in the bar after the game - the Player of the Match votes led to a three player tie between Tchakhotine, Simon Russell and Steve Aylin (with the age-less Harrison only one vote behind); in the end Northampton giving the nod to Andre for his two goals.
Next week sees the interesting new prospect for the calendar of a visiting Manx team - and then the joys of the Summer League!