Match Report - 20 Oct 2012, Harris Academy FP Hockey Club 1st Team Outdoor beat Erskine Stewarts Melville
Erskines Stewart Melvilles were always going to be a tough game as they topped the table before todays game. The tone was set when we appeared at the changing rooms to find out that ESM had bloody well stolen it from us at 10am. Reports that their Germanic earliness was due to putting down their beach towels in the changing room were not denied by their unofficial spokesperson, erstwhile Harris legend and Edinburgh slum landlord/solicitor, Richard “soapy” Soutar. We have no idea what else they could have been doing since they were down at the pitch a good 15 mins after we had started our warm up.
Their tardiness was not evident by pushback when their left back waltzed up the pitch with nary a stick getting in the way to put in a tackle! Our defence was called into action a number of times to block the advancing swathes of Edinburghers. When we regained possession our normally reliable pillars of our defence Roy Dowie and Gavin Martin, struggled to place their passes through the tight zonal defence of ESM and possession was often given away cheaply as we tried to force the ball through the middle far too often after being unable to find the wings.
Whilst we were under pressure we had a great couple of opportunities after some good passing between Hamish and Finlay and also Neily playing a great ball across the face of goal without anyone managing to get a stick on it. We also managed to get a couple of penalty corners but these were put wide by the normally reliable Albert. Blame was attributed to the injection of Gavin for the first one but it was put so wide that it went past the big fella on the outside of the posts belly!!!
For the rest of the half we were pretty much under the cosh and we didn’t help ourselves by passing to the opposition on numerous occasions or by making an erse of substitutions on the far side. ESM broke the dead lock near the end of the half after one of their players broke on to the base line and passed it deep to the penalty spot for their sparkling bald headed player to push it into the bottom right hand corner of our goal.
Before half time there was still time to give away another corner at which Ally saved a flick before having to deflect the rebound hit from point blank range.
The half time talk was an admission that we had to pull our finger out and relief that we weren’t further behind than one. We talked about the need to play a short passing game and use the midfielders to break down their zone.
We put in a better performance in the 2nd half (admittedly not difficult). We kept the ball better and managed to get it around them a number of times but we still struggled in the final third. We were still managing to win corners and Albert managed to put one even further past the post than the first one before he switched to Gavin for a “Catherine” which he put in after a bit of a scramble.
We were still riding our luck though and ESM failed in keeping the ball on the deck when getting it into the D on several occasions. They did managed to win a couple of corners and on one occasion had it in the back of the net although it was from a first shot hit above the backboard and was ruled illegal thankfully. On another occasion their attacker decided to jump on Ally who had carefully watched a ball go over the baseline. They were desperate to get another goal.
Tensions were simmering in the Harris team as we searched for the elusive goal to go ahead. Work rate, commitment and sensible passing were all called into question. About this time Neily asked Jimi for a reference for a good local gym where he could sculpt his body into a similar shape! Mind you Gavin also managed to swap some dietary advice with their left back at a number of corners.
We overcame this slight breakdown in positive communication by winning another penalty corner that again was slipped to Gavin but whose goal bound shot was saved illegally by a full length body dive by a defender. The team looked a bit worried when the Situation Greg Whittet went to collect the ball but it was only to pass it to Albert who put the stroke low and hard against the hapless keeper.
Harris held onto some last minute pressure and managed to take the 3 points at the final whistle. The opposition were left to rue a missed opportunity and indeed many were shell shocked as to having lost the game. The answer to the question of how they lost was down to some gritty defending, perservance and a bit of luck/skill. This should be a reminder that there will be no easy games in this league and that we need to work hard at training on a number of situations. Honourable mentions to Moir for his fantastic utility player status, Chico for his first game back and brightening up the pitch (with his tan), Greg Whittet for his work up the left wing, Hamish and Finlay again for their efforts and progressing ability at this level.
Game next week will be against Perthshire at home. It will be another tough encounter as they have been progressing well in the last few years but hard work and good numbers at training will be the best thing possible to help ensure we take the 3 points again.
Harris Academy FP Hockey Club 1st Team Outdoor 2 - 1 Erskine Stewarts Melville