Scorers: Nick Buckingham, Richard Keir (2), Stewart Keir, Tom Oberg
MoM: Tom Richford
DoD: Richard Keir
A fixture-swap style weekend welcomed Eastbourne 1’s to Polo Farm, whilst Canterbury Pilgrims aptly travelled to the South Coast; a chance for the green and white to claim six points from the Sussex outfit. Duly obliged. Typhoon Hagibis had little impact on Littlebourne Road, even Southeastern remained relatively disruption free.
In slight contrast to recent weeks, Canterbury men’s 2’s found themselves with reduced numbers for a back line. Youngster, Ben Young, confidently filled the boots of the regular 2’s skipper Andrew Dunn, who suffered a groin strain from numerous recent mis-hits. Get well soon, skipper. Missing Laslett next week, we’ll need the return of a wise head.
The regular skipper always demands self preparation during warm up. With Dunn’s absence, there was some worry this mantra had been overlooked, with a relaxed start from a quiet warm up – not helped by numerous late arrivals – to be remembered and recalled for the next team fines session. Expecting another organised and physically fit first eleven opposition, Canterbury knew that cool heads and sensible hockey would be the key to success. With this, the home team soon got in to their stride, hustling and forcing mistakes from the visitors back and midfield lines, regular turn over and misplaced passes.
Once early nerves settled, the game became camped in the away teams half. Winning fouls in attacking territory, goals soon followed. A deft deflection one of them – Nick Buckingham with a trademark late lead across the goalkeeper – spotted with ease from the midfield engine and wise head of former first XI player and captain Tom Richford, restarting with a free hit just outside the 25 yard line. Two others in the half converted from penalty corners, by Richard Keir. One placed in to the the valued side of the side netting, the other a textbook training ground routine; strike from a miss-trap (celebration aptly followed). Fortunate, or perhaps testament to the fact that the coach advised we practise short corners this week, previously considered unnecessary. To note, we did not practise the “German”.
A slight blemish to the first half was a missed penalty stroke, a tame u.14 style effort saved from Rich Keir for a first half hat trick. DOD nomination for the penalty stroke miss and so called jug avoidance (having bought a jug) the justified result. The gloss of a clean sheet also scuffed just before the half, with an away goal via a deflected penalty corner, which keeper Brad Brown-Lea and stand-in post man Stewart Keir weren’t quite able to keep out. This gave the visitors some hope before the break, which Canterbury knew they needed to control.
The second half was scrappier, although intentions still seemed good and positive, misplaced passes and basic skill errors were apparent, even to the point of player-coach Chris Laslett growling in frustration. We didn’t practise basics at training. The hosts kept their lead intact though, extending through a nice breakaway and counter attacking goal, finished well from the backhand from Australian import Tom Oberg. Covering half the pitch from an interception, he made his way to the baseline and struck low past / through the advancing keeper. The fifth and final home team goal was a back-post deflection for Stewart Keir, low and wise, trusting in Tom Richford to keep the ball on the deck (and just off target). Richford undoubtably aiming at the target, with the promise and wager of a bottle of Prosecco, had he scored. Contract negotiations for future weeks and fizzy wine reward are ongoing.
The visiting team did manage a breakaway goal of their own, with smart finish, the result of a Canterbury turnover around the halfway mark. Outnumbered from the counter, Will Giltrow decided not to bundle over team mate and goal keeper Brad this time, to get the umpires attention and to pause the game, following the success of the tactic last week. Maybe hindsight would change his mind, but having already received a green card for making a tackle which made some noise, he was probably concerned for further disciplinary repercussions.
The back three of Chris Laslett, Ben Young and Will Giltrow played full 70 minutes each (68 for Giltrow), as did Tom Richford just in front of the back three, showing testament to their tireless efforts and control of the game.
League debutants this week were Miles Coode and Max Shilling, who both made positive impacts on the game. Miles was another recipient of a green card, awarded apparently for being faster than his opposition number. Max’s constant high energy and work rate fitted right in to the two’s criteria and midfield requirement.
Zak Williams, Tom Oberg and Nick Buckingham continued to offer options for the midfield, and were ultimately too much for the Eastbourne back line.
Considering his inability to keep anything inside him, Stewart Keir showed good energy in his requested five minute bursts. Craig Alder also showed consistent energy levels and commitment throughout the game, even without the reward of warm-up duties this week.
Man of the match was fairly awarded to Tom Richford, for his consistent game control, and smart remarks to the opposition throughout. Dick of the day to Richard Keir, and penalty strokes should never be missed. Jack Gooding should take some credit for the later, not allowing RK to practise when in Weybridge.
Next week, the 2’s travel to Sevenoaks to play a second XI, currently placed second in the league, hoping that the unbeaten run continues.