Sunbury & Walton Hawks 4 -2 Cheam M3s
By Scott Ferguson
No points but a promising start
A glorious sunny day set the scene for the season opener for the M3s. A new season, a new division and a good balance of energetic youth and seasoned veterans in a 16-man squad.
The curtain-raiser match from Hampshire-Surrey Regional League provided a glimpse of what good hockey looked like (nine divisions above us!) and it rubbed off, with a goal after three minutes, from debutant colt, Joe Levine. Quality link work through the centre of the field cut a hole in the S&W defence, and eventually the net. Aspirations for the new season suddenly lifted sharply!
That was probably the worst thing that could have happened, it only takes a little complacency to let the opposition back in, and they were a better team than the first five minutes showed. A tighter contest ensued and the scores were levelled with the classiest flukiest goal you will see this season. A deflected ball, raised to shoulder high, on the backstick side, on a 45deg angle in a crowded D, cleanly struck into the far side of the net. National League strikers would hope to hit 1 in 4 of those...
The finer details of the next two goals slip my mind, but the blame can largely be put down to a mix of rusty skills and positional confusion, something we clearly have to work on with a large bench. Plenty of opportunities at each end, with both keepers getting a decent workout.
Halftime, trailing 1-3 but with plenty of positives. Keep spreading the ball wide, use pace & passing to beat the older defenders, support your teammates.
The second half was a much tighter battle. Pressure at both ends finally turned into a goal with a brilliant counter-attack. A quick clearance from defence set James Clack, Joe and finally David Williams away to slice the Sunbury defence apart, and it was game on again, 2-3.
Cheam pushed hard for the equaliser, with a couple of great runs down the right which eluded the player at the back post by inches. Exquisite fast breaks, stretching the opposition, attackers streaming into the circle.... the goals will come. Maybe not today, but they will come. Far better to be creating the opportunities and missing than not being in the same postcode!
Defence held up well under pressure, Sunbury still pressed hard, even having one short corner brilliantly saved off the line in mid-air. It wasn't until the final couple of minutes when calculated risks were taken to push forward seeking the equaliser, that Sunbury sealed the match on a fast break, 4-2.
Play that match 100 times and we'd get a draw most times, even pinch a decent number of wins. The results will come, there was plenty of promise from that match: nice link work moving forward, we had plenty of the football, our youngest players looked capable at this level and gained more confidence the longer the match went, new guys to the club slotted in well...
Heads up guys, bring on Kenley next week.