Hockey: Berkswell’s League campaign off to a flyer!

Mens 1st XI – BBCHC 4 (Oliver Stuart-Smith 4) v Atherstone 1

It was glorious Saturday for Berkswell and Balsall Common’s first XI in their East Midlands League Division 1 opener at Westwood Astros against Atherstone Adders.

The opening minutes of the first half provided the Adders with a host of attacking opportunities, but the well organised defensive combination of Dom Herring, Rich Haines, Doug Macklam and Martin Cross combined well to subdue Atherstone’s dangerous and feisty central attacker, although Berkswell’s Neil Palframan was still called into action on several occasions to keep the game level.

Suddenly after soaking up lots of pressure the boys in maroon broke through the Atherstone defence, with Oliver Stuart-Smith cheekily slotting the ball home to open the scoring.  Immediately the dynamics of the game changed and Berkswell went on the offensive to create a series of chances.  Then after a period of dominance a series of defensive errors led to an Atherstone equaliser, leaving the B’s needing to knuckle down and regroup.

With the pressure back on, the Berkswell boys showed their mettle by quickly regaining their lead and building on it with goals either side of the half time break, each credited to Oliver Stuart-Smith.  With new found confidence the chances began to flow and after a piercing runs from Chris Lomas and Nick Herring, Doug Macklam attempted an aerial pass that on this occasion left the pitch over the fence.

With the arrival of supporters from the ladies side, Simon Tite stepped up another gear, pulling out all the tricks to beat several players before striking at goal.  The effort soared into the top corner but was disallowed for an infringement shortly before. Opportunities continued to arise for the home team with Martin Cross and Rob Whisson overlapping successfully on the right side of the pitch and Andrew Livingstone creating several chances from the centre of the pitch.

As the game was drawing to a close Berkswell conceded a penalty corner and the defence lined up to preserve the two goal lead, however a break down in the attack and an inspired interception by captain Martin Stevens, lead to a counter attack and an initial shot by Simon Tite allowed Oliver Stuart-Smith to score his fourth goal. A win was the start to the season that Berkswell needed and despite some areas for improvement the team is confident that this could be their season.

Mens 2nd XI – Barlastone 0 v BBCHC 5 (Matt Roebuck 2, Michael Lister 2, Robby Wells 1)

Berkswell mens 2nd XI started the seasons campaign of in style with an emphatic away win against Baralastone. Despite missing key lynchpin and captain Rob Dowse, vice captain Matt Roebuck presided over an assured performance seeing the team to second place in the league. With two goals a-piece from strikers Michael Lister and Matt Roebuck and a further goal for the third striker Robby Wells this was certainly a benchmark for the rest of the season. Whilst it took towards the end of the first half before a goal came Berkswell superior possession and passing told and the game was won from then on.

Mens 3rd XI – Coventry Sikh Union 3 v BBCHC 7 (Dave Perry 3, Chris Gallon 2, Jake Kocknowicz, Matt Wooden)

Having only 5 confirmed players on Thursday night the 3rd XI did well to get a team of 11 out there on the pitch with an additional substitute too. We had no idea to expect from the sikh union side given their previous “robust” outings so began the match a little lightly conceding a goal within the first few minutes. It didn’t take long for Dave Perry to react bringing the scores up to 1-1,then to 2-1 with a goal from Chris Gallon and a second from Perry. Seconds before the half time whistle Jake Kochnowicz hammered the strangest diving one handed cross from Shin into the corner going into the half time break 4-1 up. Sikh union came back after the half time break with minor ‘fracas’ but generally much improved hockey scoring a further 2 goals to bring up the scores to 4-3 Berkswell. As the match progressed Berkswell started playing a little better with a further 3 goals scored by Matt Wooden, Chris Gallon and then finally Dave Perry netting for his hatrick and ending the game 7-3 to Berkswell. Overall a very rusty start after a summer break and a team which was scraped together at last minute but progressed well and came out victorious against Sikh union who played a much cleaner game than in previous years.

Ladies 1st XI – Rugby & East Warwicks 2 v BBCHC 2 (Sarah Augustin and Annie Hart)

BBCHC ladies had a good start to their season against a particularly strong Rugby side after a reorganisation to the squads at Rugby. This girls battled well throughout the game and deserved to come out of the game with a draw. Goals in each half from Annie Hart and Sarah Augustin and a strong defence performance, particularly from BBCHC league debutant Charlotte Billyeald. The strong defence and forward partnerships showed good promise and Berkswell will be looking forward to the coming season and hoping for some more strong performances and inevitably the wins will come.

Upcoming fixtures

Mens 1st XI: Away v Market Harborough (11.30 pushback at Welin Park School)

Mens 2nd XI: Home v Whitchurch (12.30 at Warwick University)

Mens 3rd XI: Home v Loughborough Sharks (15.50 at Warwick University)

Ladies 1st XI: Home v Coventry & North Warwicks (tbc)