Squad: Cliff Peck, Tony Elston, Mandeep Hansra, Steve Foster, Chris Bollig, Brian Woolcott, Mike Rudd, Graham Ramsden, Dave Dixon, Tony Rutherford
Seasonal flu and dodgy muscles unfortunately reduced the squad to 10 player in the run up to the fixture. A pity as Ashford is a great venue for social hockey; cosy clubhouse in an open semi-rural location, great hospitality (they have their own bar, kitchen and caterers), an excellent sand-based/shock-pad Astro and very capable and sociable masters players. This is what what hockey is all about.
This was an experienced LX team comprising age groups 58-64 all the way up to 80 plus; a true Grand Masters mix. Having ‘agreed’ with Ashford that their subs’ bench was in fact a communal pot from which we could both draw players (amazing what you can get away with if you smile nicely!) we managed to start with 11 players.
As a scratch team the formation was a rather fluid 3/3/3 with roving sweeper somewhere in the mix anchored by Cliff in goal who made several superb (and much needed) saves during the game. Some very attractive hockey was played in moving the ball patiently out from the back: Chris B, Dave D, Graham R and Tony R finding players out wide.
Having a couple of natural wing players in Brian and the ‘borrowed’ Tony Spain (LX application now in the post!) set the general tone of the LX game: get it out wide and up to the forwards quickly, catch them on the break through the channels. The only flaw in this plan was the rookie centre forward, who’s name escapes me just now, who squandered several excellently worked opportunities provided by the busy midfield of Tony E, Mandeep and Mike R.
As the match went on the younger legs of the oppositions two full England Masters began to make a difference and they took a 1-0 lead in the third quarter. Fourth quarter the high press was applied (that’s to say “everyone forward and lets see what happens”). What happened was Brian W arriving on the edge of an extremely crowded D to drive a shot through the melee and into the goal; 1-1.
As we know a team is often at its most vulnerable just after scoring and within minutes LX were 2-1 down and Ashford held out to win. A superb game, enjoyed by everyone with plenty to admire and discuss over a pint afterwards.