Hockey: Top of the table Berkswell rampant against previously unbeaten Worksop

Doug Macklam reports on Berkswell’s round of matches played on Saturday (20th November 2010):

Mens 1st XI (Saturday league game)

BBCHC (5) (Oliver Stuart-Smith 4, Martin Stevens) beat Worksop (0)

Top of the table Berkswell played host to the only other undefeated team in MRHA East Midlands Division 2 on Saturday. And visitors Worksop found themselves up against an in-form and heavily supported Berkswell brimming with confidence off the back of their 14-0 victory the previous week. Worksop seemed overawed by the situation as Berkswell set about them early on with the sort of vigour and passing skills you might find more akin to an AFC Barcelona outing.

That said, as is the way with such things, the first goal came from a splendid individual effort as captain Martin Stevens steamrollered his way through all-comers to smash past the flailing Worksop ‘keeper. Oliver Stuart-Smith (or OSS as he will now be known) then continued his rich vein of scoring form to add a second and when Stevens was brought down by the keeper in the D it was up to OSS to score the resulting penalty flick.

Berkswell didn’t have it all their own way though and Worksop had many penalty corner opportunities to get themselves back into the match but the back line of Doug Macklam, Dom Herring, Rich Haines, Martin Cross and Nick Turner stood firm in its alternation – as it has done in many games this season – and refused to let that clean sheet go at all costs. Steve ‘Hollywood’ Cross in goal also played his part in the clean sheet attempt, making a series of essential spectacular saves to deny the potent striking force of Worksop, this obviously drove the fans wild and the stewards had to warn one Nick Herring to contain his jubilation. After the game ‘Hollywood’ was modest in his appraisal of his own performance saying, “Just doing my job, Jeff”.

The second half saw Berkswell dominate the majority of play and OSS added two more goals to his seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the top scorers list, thanks to help from the hard working midfield and strikers around him – Simon Tite, Chris Lomas, Martin Stevens, Rob Whisson and Robby Wells. This was by far BBCHC’s best performance of the season so far, this form will no doubt be taken into the next game as they look to continue their glorious cup run away to Lydney.

Mens 1st XI (Sunday cup game)

Lydney 5 BBCHC 3 (Martin Stevens, Tom Ranner, Robby Wells)

Well, the official OS grid reference for Lydney is SO64032. A small town and civil parish in the English county of Gloucestershire located on the west bank of the River Severn close to the Forest of Dean. A population of 8,960 (according to the 2001 census) this consists mainly sheep rearing farmers. Putting this to one side, all the swarm of enthusiastic hockey elite collectively known as the B’s were interested in was would Lydney put an end to what had already been the longest ever cup ‘run’ that the club had been involved in, getting to round 2! Only time could tell.

And so the day of the draw was upon us. 12 of the B’s left the hive and flew their way down the M5 on their journey to become ‘EHA Vase’ heroes. For some, following last minute scouting by Martin ‘Capello’ Stevens, it was to be a debut appearance in the cup and their first cap for the 1sts. Whatever the team mix it had all the makings of a classic which the B’s went into with confidence after what has been by no doubt one of the best starts to a season.

Having lost the toss Lydney got the game underway and it became immediately apparent that the B’s were facing one of their toughest rivals of the season to date. Fast paced, well worked interchanging passes and good periods of possession meant that the B’s were going to have to be at the top of their game. Despite Lydney’s early possession the B’s rose to the challenge and gave Lydney as good as they got. Strong defending from the back four kept the opposition out and well worked attacking breaks with good movement up front led to the B’s having what were clearly the better chances of the opening exchange. The deadlock was unfortunately broken however by Lydney around 20 mins in through a well worked short corner routine that was finished off with a flick over Steve ‘Hollywood’ Cross.

With heads still held high B’s came out fighting once again however it became more apparent that they would have to overcome 13 instead of 11 with a number of crucial umpiring errors going against them, one of which led to the giving of a short corner in the fading stages of the first half which was cleanly converted once again by the home side and could well have turned out to be a pivotal point in the match. The frustrations over the poor decisions began to boil over to the point where an outraged Martin Cross could not contain himself anymore, jumping up and down on the spot and throwing his stick on the floor in disgust at the ‘Country’ rules being displayed by the umpires, as he saw his hold on the ‘EHA Vase’ slipping away. This led to a team green being handed to Captain Martin Fingers.

B’s went into the half time break 2-0 down however had competed well and created a number of chances providing them with the continued confidence and belief that they could still get something out of the game. The second half began with the same level of intensity as the first however it was the B’s who applied the pressure on the home side with excellent quick time passing and movement. This was soon to be rewarded following another strong team break which led to the ball being played dangerously into the goal mouth area where a deft touch from no doubt, future 1st team signing Thierry, put the B’s right back in the mix at 2-1 and the home side on edge. The next goal would be critical in the contest as B’s looked like they had the upper hand with continued goal mouth action and well worked opportunities falling to top of the league leading goal scorer Oliver Stuart-Smith however it would turn out not to be his day with goal bound strikes being saved off the line.

With no letting up, Lydney came back at the B’s with some strong individual skills resulting in the fourth goal going their way. At 3-1 many may have thought the sting would have been taken out of the B’s tail however a belief that has developed over the season meant that they continued to fight hard even when goals 5 and 6 went Lydney’s way putting the score line at 5-1. However, with a club spirit second to none and travelling fans the B’s took the game to Lydney. A great on the break team passing move created an excellent opportunity for Robbie who controlled the ball perfectly to slot home the B’s second of the day. Running back to get ready for the restart, the B’s played with the belief that a result was still possible. Minutes later, a one – two passing exchange between Martin Stevens and Oliver Stuart-Smith, often seen in the pre match warm up routine, ended in a third goal for the B’s being fired home and the home team began to feel the pressure. Unfortunately, just like the umpires, time was also not on the B’s side and with a penalty corner to the visiting side bringing round the final whistle a goal would only see the score line at 5-4…it ended 5-3.

Overall the B’s could make the long journey back home proud of not only the cup performance but the weekend of hockey in general. Now they can wake up from the dream that would have seen some glassware for the cupboard in the clubhouse and focus on the main aim of the season to get promoted and remain unbeaten in the league. Special mention to ‘thirds to firsts’ team debutant Dean who had a great defensive game and individual performances by Thierry, Fingers and Robby.

Special thanks also once again to the travelling fans!

Mens 2nd XI

Kidderminster 0 – BBCHC 2 (Michael Lister)

Berkswell 2s were forced to work hard this week against a challenging Kidderminster team. Within the first 5 minutes the Berkswell defence were put under pressure from a string of penalty corners that should never have happened when the umpires missed the Kidderminster attack kick the ball at the goal. Berkswell were slow to get into the match, but a well worked penalty corner routine saw Michael Lister deflect a ball passed the keeper. Centre back Duncan Greenshields took a ball to the face late in the half which saw him off for the remainder of the match. Berkswell kept on the offensive, but the Kidderminster keeper put in a number of crucial saves and kept the score line at 1 to nil at half time.

Berkswell kept up the energy in the second half and some slick passing movement up the left wing saw Tim Bateup assist Michael Lister in scoring his second goal. A solid defence, featuring man of the match David Perry, kept Kidderminster at bay resulting in another clean sheet. A great result that required everyone to work extra hard.

Mens 3rd XI

BBCHC 2 (Nick Seagrave, Alyn Davies) v Leicester Westleigh 2

It seems to appear that every week the third team are missing players and forced to play little experienced players in unfamiliar territory. This week Rob Senior was away leaving Jason Norris who is a forward to play as keeper. The game started with relatively good spirits since a win would put the third team second in the league tables. With some good passing around and maintaining a lot of the ball possession Berkswell were looking strong but were lacking the ability to drive the ball into the ‘D’ for a striking chance. Leicester westleigh’s defence proved to be solid keeping the ball out and with a swift counter attack and a couple of super fast sprinters the first goal was scored against Berkswell. Although the players did not let their motivation levels drop down not even 5 minutes had passed before an unfortunate incidence occurred where Norris came running out of the goal where the ball was hurtled at him, managing to get a touch to the ball the pace reduced to very slow velocity but then clipped the heel of the last Berkswell defender resulting in a penalty flick being awarded to Leicester which was put away in the corner seconds before the half time whistle.

After a half time restructure Berkswell decided to test out a long desired 4-3-3 formation which appeared to free up a lot more players and space. It wasn’t long before a short corner was awarded to Berkswell who have been practicing these for a few weeks now and proved to be of time well spent after Alyn Davies scored the first goal for Berkswell. This first goal seemed to give all the Berkswell players unnatural energy and enthusiasm driving the ball forward attacking the Leicester defence more than ever and getting the ball into the ‘D’ providing a few opportunities to score which were denied. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes when Nick Seagrave scored the second goal for Berkswell making the scores level. For the dying minutes of the game both teams made their last efforts to score which were unsuccessful bringing the game to a close with a 2-2 result.

Ladies

BBCHC 3 (Sarah Augustin 2, Sue Walsh) v Olton & West Warwickshire 1

Up & Coming Fixtures
Mens 1st XI: Away v Buxton 2pm at Buxton Community College
Mens 2nd XI: Home v Kynoch 12.30 at Warwick University
Mens 3rd XI: Away v Derwent pushback tbc
Ladies: Home v Warwick 15.00 pushback at Warwick School

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