Sils win second half, but end up well beaten
By Stephen Tabb
First half master-class from Hampton puts game beyond Sils but they do not go down without a fight
Hampton pulled out the big guns on a pleasant Wednesday evening, having suffered at the hands of Sils earlier in the season.
In the Hampton line-up were 3 current Hampton first-teamers, 2 Masters International players, and a current England Coach - with the last of these (Greg Wade) being probably the best Over 35 player playing regular mid-week hockey in the local area.
Hampton started much the stronger side, and were 4-0 up before Sils even got close to getting some decent possession. The one weak link in the Hampton side was their on-loan player for the evening, Sils Chairman Stephen Tabb, who thankfully was comprehensively outplayed by John Scott and Simon Russell down the Sils right, and they combined to find John Rice in space who was able to find Sam Stephen all alone in the D who then reduced the deficit.
Unfortunately for Sils, Hampton realised that Tabb was the weak link, and simply stopped passing to him! With this weak link removed, Wade pulled all the strings in the middle of the pitch to score 3 and set up 3 in total before the end of the half including one goal which he scored having run almost the length of the pitch at full speed exchanging one-twos as he went; not exactly what you get every week from a Vets' player!
With the half-time score 7-1 to Hampton, the Sils had a positive discussion about how to go out and win the second half.
Whatever was said worked well, and within a few minutes Nick Oppenheimer had scored the home side's 2nd goal. They held this second-half lead for a while before a crazy 5 minutes, which saw Hampton score twice to go 9-2 up, but then just as quickly, responses from first John Rice sneaking a shot in at the near post, and then Matthew Fell rifling home a reverse-stick effort from the top of the D.
There was then a period of slightly more sane hockey, with Mark Dovey and Sam Stephen working hard to stifle the threat through the middle of the pitch whilst Jim Goldstraw in goal was working hard to ensure the second half lead was maintained. At times Jim was at full stretch to keep the ball out (and possibly stretching the rules of the game slightly), but he was unable to prevent a Hampton 10th goal as the ball rebounded to a free man at the far post. The last word was for the Sils though, with the scoring completed by Andrew Scott adding his name to the scoresheet - this time, firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner from the top left of the circle.
Some great hockey by both teams, and a resolute second half performance from the Sils, but it was always going to be difficult to come back from a 7-1 half-time scoreline.