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Merlins - Match centre

Maidenhead Merlins
Sat 10 Mar 12:00 - League Full time

Merlins 3 - 2 South Bucks Wrinklies

Win for the Merlins in this Neighbourhood match

On a fresh Saturday afternoon, the Merlins hosted neighbours the Wrinklies of South Bucks Hockey club at Braywick.  Following a slight delay as Wrinklies waited for a full team to arrive and Merlins awaited the arrival of their supporter, the game got off to an exciting start. The Merlins strong backline of Marc ‘Mystic’ Jones, Doug ‘Hop-a- Long’ Courtney, David ‘DV’ Vincent and Noel ‘Spud’ Murphy, reinforced by Colin ‘Citóg’ Byrne, kept the Wrinklies at bay as they started off with a full press. The Merlins however capitalized on a counter-attack and opened the scoring after fifteen minutes through Clint Miles (delighting in his moment in the sun while on loan from the Monarchs) who slotted home from an initial save from Kuljit Bhachu’s initial corner strike.

A few moments later, the Wrinklies were awarded a string of penalty corners and converted their fourth one with a fine strike. In fairness, the unlucky Merlins were caught relaxing thinking that Noel ‘Spud’ Murphy’s illegal early run-out would have been seen by any reasonably vigilant/informed umpire and would have resulted in his dispatch to the halfway line and the corner being re-taken. A rare occurrence of knowledge of the rules of hockey going against the Merlins!

With five minutes of the first-half to go, the Wrinklies converted a penalty corner through Mike Salmon who scored with a shot into the left-corner of the goal finishing the half 1-2 to the Wrinklies. His scoring technique, i.e. standing still and letting the ball bounce off your stick, was much appreciated by Bob ‘Jigsaw’ Brown from the sideline, as he walked his Fitbit continually around the perimeter gaining a higher step count than any actual player on the pitch!

Following an inspiring and lengthy half time discussion, where, as is customary, many spoke but few listened, the Merlins started the second half in a determined fashion. A few minutes of play and Colin Byrne equalized with a shot resembling a ‘slow bouncing bomb’ with thankfully no explosion, as the ball slowly travelled into the goal. It must stand as one of the strangest goals of the season. The slow pace of the ball seemed to disconcert and mesmerise both home team and opposition in equal measure as all appeared to just stand and gaze dumfounded as the ball made its slow progress to the goal line.

Merlins were inspired at this upturn of events and the central line of George "Braveheart"; Wallace, Laurie Shotton and Rob Newnham delivered more forward ball. With this continued attacking play, Nathan Jefferys finished an exciting mazy run and shot on target to edge the Merlins ahead after 45 minutes. With continued possessive play, well supported by the untiring Mahdi Hosany and a final great clearance from the home D by Rob Newnham, the Merlins held on to the lead to secure a well-earned 3-2 victory.

A special thanks to the umpires including Rhys Edwards from Maidenhead Hockey club, whose knowledge of the rules of hockey knows no bounds. Gratitude was extended to his father Gary, along with Doug Courtney, who played a half each for the Wrinklies. Gary entertained all ad nauseum with his claiming to have being the only player to have ‘won both halves’. However his attempted promulgations for man of the match award went unfulfilled as the glory duly went to Marc Jones.

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