Merlins 1 - 2 Ashfor IVs
An evenly matched games for the Merlins
The beautiful sunny, but cold weather augured well for an enjoyable game against an opposition that always gives a good account of themselves.
True to form, both sides moved the ball about well and within two minutes Ashford worked the ball to the top of the Merlins’ ‘D’ only to be stick-tackled by an over-enthusiastic defender (you know who you are!), and immediately recovering they took advantage of the hesitation when the umpire whistled for a short-corner, and slammed the ball past Ronnie ‘The Cat’ Fuller in goal, only to have the other umpire (at the other end of the pitch) signal for a goal. Despite protestations from Merlins, the first umpire changed his decision and awarded a goal to Ashford.
More than a little peeved by this, Merlins raised their game, and, with only the occasional lapse, began passing to each other and making good ground with the youthful combination of George ‘Braveheart’ Wallace at right midfield, and Mahdi Hosany and Rhys (stop trying to impress your girlfriend) Edwards in attack giving the visitors all sorts of problems, and were unlucky not to score on a number of occasions. Joining the fray Harley ‘Davidson’ Jones and Kuljit ‘KB’ Bhachu helped keep the Ashford keeper busy until they forced a short-corner. Although not the professional slick manoeuvre usually associated with Merlins’ corners, the ball eventually fell to David ‘Heartburn’ Rennie, who found a space twixt pad and post to equalise after only ten minutes.
One goal each, and Merlins relaxed for a spell, giving Ashford more time on the ball and the Merlins back line of Marc ‘one-hand’ Jones, Doug ‘OG’ Courtney, Colin ‘Citog’ Byrne and Spud Murphy a bit more of the action, and for a while, The Cat was called upon to display his athletic ability. This happily was not to last, and attacks down both sides through Rod Newnham and Gary Edwards on the left provided more scoring opportunities, which evaded the persistent Merlins, but inspired ‘on-the-pitch captain’ David ‘DV’ Vincent during the half-time pep talk to praise the team for good hockey, along with reminding them to pass to a white shirt (as usual), and not try to run or pass through the opposing players.
The second half was equally matched, with neither side dominating, and both defences being called upon almost in turn. The central channel through Heartburn, Edwards Minor, Hosany, and Braveheart always looked threatening, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they broke through. But against the run of play Ashford linked well and evaded The Cat to take the lead midway through the half. Responding positively, Merlins piled on the pressure and so nearly equalised when Hosany came so close that no-one believed he didn’t score.
Final score 1-2, and The Cat commented as he left the pitch: ‘I recognise a few of them. They played against Magicians for Ashford third team a couple of weeks back! A draw would have been a fair result’.
So, back to the clubhouse to watch England lose to Scotland in the Calcutta Cup, and Citog receive the Man of the Match accolade.