Sunday 2nd April
Hampton-in-Arden [4-2] Bristol & West
Photos by Olivia Gold 7 James Baber (thanks for the support 🥰)
The men's season may have come to a close on Saturday, but there was business to attend to in the national mixed England Hockey Mixed Tier 1 Championships. Having made it through a tough away game at Cheltenham and a home tie against Royal Wootton Basset, our mixed elite had earned a trip to Birmingham for their last 32 tie.
The two possible dates for this fixture were the Sunday after our Women's 1s celebrated their league title, or the following weekend when our men were celebrating the same success. The home team selected the latter, resulting in the male contingent arriving to the meet nursing various stages of hangover. From bleary eyes to positively queasy, it was a miracle that the full team made it on time (apart from Hazelwood obviously).
The team arrived in one piece without any significant breaks en-route 🤢. A lovely sunny day, a pristine pitch and a Hampton & Arden team ready to take on the challenge.
Mixed manager Dave "The Vegetable" Vernon had some tough calls for this round, brining in some big guns for the occasion. Men's 1st team star Mouse, fresh from Clifton Triangle was ready to show the boss what he was made of, promptly tripping his own feet in the first 5 minutes before he and defensive partner Nevin conceded the first goal of the game. 1-0 down and tone set for the afternoon!
Safe to say the girls carried the team through the opening encounters while they waited for the boys to wake up. A good spell of team possession and a goal from Dan reduced the deficit to 2-1. We were back in the game! Unfortunately Hampton had a not-so-secret weapon who was given the chance to show off his drag flick on the halftime whistle. He ripped his shot to the right hand post to make it 3-1 at the break and a mountain to climb.
The first half was marked by several sharp saves from the Hampton keeper, while the second half belonged to Laura. Shot's from the top of the D, defensive mix-ups and goal-mouth scrambles, were all swatted away by our No1. This gave us a chance in the game as we broke several times to threaten their D, eventually pulling another back.
3-2 and the possibility of penalty shuffles loomed large! Unfortunately it was Hampton who had the final decisive action of the match. Their star striker showing his skill to find half a yard at the top of the D, before dispatching a thunderous strike into the side netting.
4-2 the final score, a fairly even contest, but not our best performance and a slightly disappointed manager! But fun had by all on our mixed journey, which at worst saw us ranked the 32nd team in the country, but we'd like to think the 17th 😊.
Thanks to all that played across the 3 games and all the support we've had from across the club, especially from those who travelled on the day.
Player of the Match: Meg Long