Mens 2 vs Potters Bar 2

14 January 2024 | Matthew Rees
Mens 2 vs Potters Bar 2

In my circa 25years of playing adult hockey a rather nice occurrence happened on Saturday. Yes your Harpenden Men’s 2s know how to do away games. I piled into the luxuriously warm back seat of JB’s passion wagon, had a little scuffle with FT for whose shoulder went behind the other and then the highlight of the weekend occurred as I was handed a coffee for the journey. I’ve never had such service before! Some say Kevin Moxham is worried for his place and pulling as many strings as he can, others point out that his barista efforts are extremely welcome however Captain Jack doesn’t even drink coffee!

The 2s season got off to a slow start, but the results have been picking up since a “carte rouge” was shown in a game before Xmas. The unfortunate side of the tale is we just continue to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. We fielded an impressive line up this week: Nick McLean offering the experience up front, to compliment the youth, pace and skill provided by Nate, Henry and Ali.

A sluggish start is compounded into the worst possible as Potters Bar got the ball in our D through a combination of luck, skulduggery and slight of hand. A weak shot was saved by Ross in goal, a scramble ensued and fortune favours the home side as the ball pops out of the mess to a chap who’s a bit unsure what to do but a scuffed push pass was unreachable by any of our defence. Less than five minutes in and we’ve got an uphill battle now.

Potters Bar 1 - 0 Twos

In an instant we collectively woke up and it became clear who the superior side was. Jonny Turner and Mox in defence were distributing beautifully. Cameron and Wrighty at wingbacks enjoying plenty of ball and supplying it forward.

We had pressure and short corners a plenty. Henry was out through only to be snaffled by the keeper. Nate was causing havoc. In the middle Blackwell, Fraser and JB were putting in great shifts covering a lot of ground. Which was great for me as I was able to stay relatively still and put the odd aerial in or two.

It was surprising we hadn’t equalised yet, but we knew it would happen. From a short corner Mox’s straight strike was unleashed like an intercontinental ballistic missile, it was ballooned off the line by a defender, for Jon Benson to react like a mongoose and baseball the ball into the goal.

PB 1 - 1 Twos

We were all over them for the remainder of the half, but we just couldn’t get another. Fraser thought this is. But one sided, I’ll turn 180 and pass it on a perfect perpendicular bisector between Mox and Wrighty. Wrighty left it for Mox, Mox (gosh I’ve given him some airtime in this write up haven’t I?) ran for 3 yards and thought stuff it. Ross Cato in goal desperate to get involved where there was zero danger whatsoever start galloping towards the ball, got out the D, was probably disoriented, and then hits the deck. A pulled muscle and we’re in need of a new keeper. Henry volunteers and we enjoy an extended rest at half time as he sticks the kit on.

Half time was long enough too for Steeley to rock up, a healed back, tanned from 3 weeks of Aussie barbecue and fosters he slotted into the midfield with FT going to play higher.

The second half was much akin to the 30minutes of the first half after PB’s bungled goal. We were on top and playing great hockey, Potters Bar did offer some fitness and Henry was called upon a couple of times to boot the ball away, which he did magnificently without pulling his groin/hamstring/calf.

Most of the game I found myself playing in the shadow of my opposite number. Literally that is, I barely saw the sun as he hogged it all with his build of a Saracen’s second row. FT came up against him in a challenge, gets bumped to the floor instantly then grabs the ball with his hand on a good bit of gamesmanship as clearly the hit had to go Potter’s Bar’s way. 

And oh my gosh the press was working fantastically. I have never seen a team talk so little about how to do something, yet deploy it so effectively. Whether it was instinct or intuition I’m not entirely sure but Potter’s Bar’s defenders basically had one option: go sideways, because they simply couldn’t find a way through our ring of steel. It’s a shame other Harpenden Mens Teams weren’t able to watch and learn on this occasion. Maybe at training on Wednesday we could provide a demo?

We had chances. Ali nearly found McLean in front of goal, Jack had a torpedo of a shot saved by their keeper, I air-shotted at a short corner, but alas it just didn’t quite fall for us.

Full Time: 1 - 1

Yet another draw for the Twos, frustrating times. 

MoM Jonny Turner I thought was commanding in central defence. Honourable mention to Henry for stepping into goal.

Champagne Moment: JB’s goal was an exquisite reaction finish.

DoD: I’m actually gonna have to give it to myself. Don’t think I’ve failed to make contact with a ball when trying to hit it since I was about 7years old.

Report by Reesy

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