On a beautiful winter’s morning, the Old Cranleighans made their way to the fortress knowing three points would put them in a great position in the run up to the Christmas break. While Dilson and Wage both arrived (predictably) an hour late of the meet time, the other members of the squad were bright eyed and bushy tailed with fewer than a handful of noticeable hangovers between them.
The pitch, however, was not in great shape. Both sets of players, and two blokes with whistles (and cards, apparently), voiced their opinions and agreed to start the game 15 minutes late – giving it as much time as possible to thaw. While the OCs were in a buoyant mood, Lewes’ players were overhead first suggesting a draw, and then a boat race, to decide the fixture. This offer was politely turned down with the mighty OCs keen to make it fours wins out of the last five fixtures.
Lewes started the game brightly and put the OCs back four under considerable pressure in the opening exchanges. This was rewarded with an early goal that is becoming an all too regular occurrence in the first five minutes of our matches.
The OCs fought back bravely and Beardyman powered home a well worked goal after good work from Rozier and Pinky. Lewes, however, continued to pressure the OCs’ defence and mistakes were made. Ross spared the blushes of the author on at least one occasion but was left exposed one too many times when Lewes made it 1-2 on the stroke of half time.
Following some choice words from Manuel and Knappy, the OCs stepped onto the pitch knowing things could only improve in the second half. The OCs started the half brightly and some mazy skills by Matt won the home team their first corner of the game. This was ‘expertly dispatched’ and put the OCs back on level terms.
After numerous green cards, the umpires had finally had enough of the number of agricultural tackles the OCs were putting in on Lewes’ skillful, midfield play-maker. While it was lovely to have the support of the home dugout (until the fines ring), the umpire sent next week’s twos’ benchwarmer off for slightly over five minutes. This was clearly a tactical move from the OCs bench, as the remaining team immediately won and ‘expertly dispatched’ another short corner after Pinky played a neat one two with a gent wearing pads.
3-2 was short lived as Lewes immediately punished some slack defending by scoring from their own ‘expertly dispatched’ one-two corner routine. Three all with 15 minutes remaining.
After last week’s disappointing end to the game, the OCs were determined to end this match in a different style. Some great hockey from the midfield and forwards took Lewes apart on multiple occasions. Two more corners ensued and both were ‘expertly dispatched’ with deflections from JLT and HarryT.
The OCs closed out the remaining five minutes of the game with some great pressing, nullifying the Lewes threat. The final whistle was met with cheers from the home crowd and condolences passed on to the losing team, who had provided the masses with an eventful and exciting game of hockey.
While one man was particularly excited in the changing room / showers, the OCs were all in great spirits after a very hard fought three points.
By Stew Laing