Scorers: Taggart, Annand x2, Bean x2, Brown-Lea
MoM: Tom Bean
DoD: Miles Coode
Arriving at an uncharacteristically quiet Sunday morning at the Polo Farm, the men’s first team gathered for their regular pre-game meeting with Craig and David.
As people took their seats, there was one notable absentee, debutant Miles Coode who’d been and gone… ‘shin pads – check, playing kit – check, silky skills – check, coconut oil for my hair – check, hockey stick – oh b*******’.
This writer wasn’t present when Miles secured DOD before the day had even started in earnest but one can only imagine this was how the conversation he had with himself went the first time he arrived for the meet.
Fortunately, he had enough tokens in the bank from his blistering performance at training on Thursday to be able to quickly bounce back quickly and settle into his first run out for the 1st XI.
As the game got under way, so the crowd grew to settle in for a historically tight affair against Southgate and despite the oppositions woes this season, Canterbury were under no false pretences as to the challenge they faced.
An early goal from Ronan Taggart, who found himself in the circle to calmly slot home, helped settle the team and the crowd and allowed Canterbury a chance to really find their rhythm from the outset.
With the absence of Toby Vaughan, Matt Burton-Bowen dropped back into the heart of defence and clearly gee’d by some ‘ageist’ banter/abuse from last weeks match-report, he was looking as sprightly as ever controlling the game and not giving the Southgate forwards a sniff.
Off the back of two great results and mature performances, Canterbury continued in the same vein, maintaining possession nicely and looking dangerous in attack through the early energy of Hamish Roberts and Cal Lea-Brown who really caused some headaches.
The rewards soon came with Conor Annand adding yet another to his tally for the season – not bad for someone who still claims to not be a forward – to see Canterbury through to half-time at 2-0 to the good.
The third quarter brought a much tighter affair as a Southgate resurgence saw them take a bit of a grip on the game and create some chances of their own.
One firmly struck shot pulled a great save from former Southgate turned CHC keeper, Chris Rea; and not one to slip under the radar, Chris gave the crowd what they wanted with another Matrix-inspired fall to the ground to really accentuate the quality of the save… if only there was a hockey company at hand to make a highlights package of the weekends games!
In a day where Chris’ choice of shirts was put under the microscope – donning a Southgate smock in the warm up and a Man United shirt to watch them lose 5-0 in the pub afterwards – there were no freebies dished out to his old mates as he continued to show the value he brings to his new team by bossing things from the in between the sticks.
The too-ing and fro-ing of the third quarter led to numerous opportunities to win the ball in midfield and after a few close chances, the ball eventually found the Southgate net after Dan Gent and Tom Bean worked doggedly together in midfield to nick the ball for Bean to finish with a wonderfully placed mis-hit, tinged with only a hint of good fortune.
At 3-0, Canterbury seemed comfortable but with the visitors pulling one back before quarter time, there was still work to be done. They continued their high energy pressing and soon their youth and fitness began to pay dividends.
Conor notched up another one with an elaborate upright, backhand finish and Bean added a fifth on the break to make it 5-1 before Cal Brown-Lea deservedly got his name on the score sheet for the first time this season.
As the most composed and alert within a melee of bodies, Cal quickly took the free-hit and moved the ball just enough to enter the circle and hit a thumping back-hand into the bottom corner much to the crowd and teams delight.
Cal’s energy and application to the start of the season has been deserving of it’s rewards so it is good to see it paying off… plus, there was only so long he could live off of his ‘England-Hockey-famous’ goal from pre-season!
A 6-1 win, a mature, composed performance and another CHC youngster making their 1st XI debut in Miles Coode topped off a great day of support from those on the side and has seen the team rise to second place in the table.
We continue our push for the top next week, away to Old Cranleighans on Saturday.