2020! 2 Home Games, 2 Wins, 2 MoMs, But only 1 DoD? What. Is. Going. On. Here?.... *Harry turns head*.... ‘bAnDwAgOn!’
Game 1 - Leominster: Having beaten them 1-3 away in the first game of the season, Leominster (somehow) went on a 9 game unbeaten run afterwards and found themselves 2nd in the table. Losing 1-2 to Swansea 2 before Christmas we knew the points were there for the taking.
A typical Bristol & West game where we played some great hockey, dominated possession and had multiple chances in front of goal that we simply couldn’t convert. Leominster won a short corner in the first half which spelled trouble for us as this was where the majority of their goals came from. The injector stutters on the line and Harry Bryant gets caught shimmy-shaking his way 3 yards into his own half before the ball is played. Despite making eye contact with the umpire and holding his hands up to stop running, the umpire allowed the shot to be taken, then blew the whistle for no advantage and penalised H for breaking the line...the corner was to be retaken. On top of this, the umpires decided to send a defender from the goal line back to the halfway point! (Which is not a rule, and something that the umpire assessor - yes they were both being assessed! - clarified to them after the game). Fortunately, AD in goal pulled off a sublime stick stop between the posts to deny the opener. Unfortunately for Harry, this would be his demise and the undoing of a perfect career record of never having received a DOD. First half ended 0-0. The second half saw Leominster take the lead with a hit and hope ball smacked into the D, met by a fine deflection into the bottom corner. B&W hit back almost immediately as Tom Bryant found himself on the baseline creeping into the D, plays the ball across for a teammate but it takes a somewhat deft touch off the defenders stick and through his own keepers legs! Not one of his finest goals, but a great team response nonetheless. After seemingly controlling most of the game, the second hammer came striking down... a bodged penalty corner spilled to a player on the back post for an easy tap in. 1-2 Leominster. With the game slipping away the team remains calm and collected, knowing that ‘The last 10 minutes are ours, that’s where we score those goals’. And sure enough a penalty corner with 5 minutes to go was converted by Tom B. A fairly straight flick went just past the keepers legs and ricocheted off the defenders stick just over the line. Considering the circumstances of a consistently tricky team to beat accompanied by some god-awful umpiring, B&W settled for a 2-2 draw and kept the pressure on the top 2. In other league news, none of the top half of the table won a game that week with draws across the board, keeping our promotion hopes very much alive! DoD - Harry, for usually never running back but the one time he does, he gets caught! MoM - The fine keeping from Mr Adrian Dann
Game 2 - Swansea A: No luck catching them swans then?... hold your horses: Another similar situation this time around, we scraped a 1-2 victory away at the start of the season and knew it would be an equally tough game... especially seeing as Swansea were only the 2nd team to beat Leominster.
Getting off to a great start and some of the best hockey we’ve played this season, B&W were once again struggling to convert their chances in front of goal. Frustration was building but a penalty corner from Tom B was spilled back into the danger zone and James Ledger was there to steer it gracefully back into... the keeper.... (panic ensues. The keeper is on the ground and it’s only a matter of time before the Swansea defenders close in and cancel out another glaring opportunity)... Harry calls out “Go high” repeatedly... the scrap continues as the ball rebounds off the keepers legs once more.... "James, lift it! Go Hiiiiiigh!"... the calls of tactical advice echo through the D. By this point the keeper is about to get back on his feet and clear the ball away, but Captain Calm Jr. takes a deep breath, clears his head and finally acknowledges the screams. He takes a step back and with one swift stroke the ball cooly soars its way into the roof of the net. 1-0. Minutes later, we were brought back down to reality. A Swansea short corner saw the attacker receive the ball with their back to AD and flick it just past the leg guards on the reverse swivel. 1-1. A second B&W short corner saw another ball padded back into the danger zone but this time returning Christian Elvidge was able to keep his balance and diving slap the ball into the back-board. 2-1. Soon after, Tom worked his way through the middle and towards the top of the D. Driving strong to the right, Tom "Jayne Torvill" Bryant cuts back onto her reverse and pirouettes on one leg, slamming it passed the keepers outstretched limbs into the bottom left corner. Late on, Swansea found themselves on the counter with an overload in front of goal. The attacker was curving his way round the baseline and just to about to play the ball across for a tap in, before what can only be described as a charging bull dived on all fours and wiped him clean off the pitch. Despite getting the ball first, Dan (Stumpy) George was promptly dealt a yellow card and a penalty stroke awarded. Heroics from Mr. Dann followed, as his sharp reactions of the right hand guard denied Swansea’s growing confidence. 1st half ended 3-1
The 2nd half brought a completely different display from both teams. Miss-hit shots in front of goal, wide of the mark passing, miss-traps, and one or two fluffed aerials. Neither team could get a foothold in the game until a third duffed penalty corner from Tom B found its way back to him at the top of the D; moving right and narrowing his angle to goal, he takes it wide of the defender and hits it back across goal to find its way nestling in the bottom left corner. 4-1.
There’s 5 minutes to go: With Swansea having already received a number of cards, Stumpy’s first half antics, Ed having been awarded a green for kicking the ball away and Christian also awarded a green for putting his foot in front of the ball to stop a quick counter; Harry only followed by example of his senior members and joined the naughty list. The ball had rebounded off the keepers pads about 2m from goal on the baseline. The defender facing the goal was half-covering the ball with his stick floating above it thinking of a way out. H stepped in and played the ball against the keepers pads, but the defenders’ natural reaction of clamping down and trapping Harry’s stick with his own, made it look as though he had gone though the back of the defender. The umpire standing less than 1m away blew his whistle fiercely and signalled for a free hit. H looked up and calmly questioned the outcome in a tender, mellow tone by saying “oh I’m terribly sorry sir, would you mind caring to explain how you have reached your calculated verdict?” .... a power-hungry rage glazed over his eyes and a deep breathe exhaled upon his whistle...
“Not by the hairs of my chinny, chin chin. I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I send you off for the rest of the game!” ...
‘But didn’t you see the ball move towards the keeper?’
...A yellow card is ripped from his pocket and held proudly in the sky....
“OFF!” the big bad wolf scoffs.
‘Could you tell me what for? I just want to know why you’re sending me off?’
“Because I said so!” The umpire remarks.
H scurries off to the dugout never to be seen again. At this point the Umpire stops time and calls for what appears to be a stern word with Captain Ed. A second yellow card is produced to him because ‘the team has lost their heads’. With only 9 men the Swansea pressure piled on, and soon the cracks in the B&W defence appeared. Another ball across the goal was tapped/scrapped over the line. Fortunately that was to be it, a 4-2 win. A game of great hockey in the first half, frustration in the 2nd... but poor discipline scattered throughout; something the team will need to quickly eradicate if they are to survive the tougher challenges that await. All in all, this is the first season with back to back wins over any Swansea team for B&W. Even better news is that Leominster lost at home 2-3 to Marlborough so B&W take 2nd place!
DoD - in a game where McKay, missed a back post sitter and gave a duff pass straight to the Swansea attack, Stumpy rugby tackling a forward off the back line and also jumping the gun on a short corner and getting sent to the half way line, Dan Ott forgetting his towel/kit bag, and even Christian going to spit on the floor but hitting his own shoe instead... H picked up the prestigious award for only the 2nd time in his career.
See you next week for what is surely going to be the 3rd instalment and closing to the trilogy that is ‘The Ten Little Piggies and the Big Bad H!’