After a few weeks idly pottering around their gardens / golf clubs / local beer gardens, the Falcons at last had another competitive fixture away to Trojans in Eastleigh near Southampton.
It was an unusual occasion as they were without their enigmatic skipper Buzz, who whilst pretending to be a younger version of himself recently by playing in the 4th team, found out that his body is now more attuned to leisurely hockey for the old boys and promptly came away from this endeavour injured. Stalwart goalkeeper Richard was also absent, but at least he found a suitable replacement in Norman, an experienced local. Finally, Andy Graham from the 7’s volunteered to boost number and energy in our midfield.
There was a little rustiness in our play in the first half. Build up was smooth, but a little slow and despite Gary, Andy S and Mark dominating midfield possession, the final telling pass into the D could not be found. The forward line was creating gaps, but they could not be exploited and when after 20 minutes Trojans broke out of their defensive positions at last, it caught our backline unawares somewhat and they scored a fortuitous goal, much against the run of play. Although we equalised rapidly and at half time the match was evenly balanced at 1-1.
The second half initially followed the same pattern, with Trojans again scoring from their next venture up the pitch and when a few minutes later they also converted their first short corner, the scoreboard looked distinctly negative at 1-3.
Falcons looked down and out, not performing to their usual standard, individually and collectively playing below par. The thought of having to tell absent skipper Buzz that we had surrendered our top of the league position against a determined but by no means outstanding Trojans team somehow galvanised our thoughts.
As the Trojan tackling became more determined in efforts to defend their lead, it raised the Falcons from their slumber. The forward line of Whitey, Boots and Dog began to chase and disrupt their defensive build up play, ensuring that Trojan’s passes into their midfield were hurried, this allowed our midfield to pick up the scraps earlier and launch more attacking waves into enemy territory. With 20 minutes left on the clock, the docile Falcons transformed into aggressive Phoenixes rising from the ashes into a new dawn.
Passing was crisp, movement off the ball increased, dummy runs created space and free flowing hockey emanated from our sticks to dazzle an increasingly fragile looking Trojans. It wasn’t long until a succession of 4 goals without reply turned this fixture on its head and allowed for a relatively quiet final few minutes. The defensive line of Billers, Blommers, Kaye, Dutch and Andy G nipped any Trojan foray in the bud and with our experienced midfield Falcons had total control until the end.
Needless to say the conversation in the clubhouse afterwards was about other heroic occasions from the Falcons archive and this one will certainly feature in years to come. Trojans and Falcons had a very social drink and chat together in the bar and agreed it was a cracking match indeed. The long journey home was pleasant, knowing captain Buzz would be pleased with another ‘drie punten'.
Many thanks to Norman and Andy G for their much needed contributions, and Geoff Paver for umpiring superbly.
Mark White takes the Man of the Match plaudits for 3 stunning goals and his endless running from deep positions. Further goals by Dog with an unstoppable PF, and Dave White from open play.