The day before the match, the weather was wall-to-wall sunshine – brilliant hockey weather and wonderful views. However there was a significant change on Thursday morning with wall-to-wall low cloud and mizzle.
The day started for four LXers (Bill Goodridge, Brian Stokes, Chris Bollig and Alan Wade) at 1100 am helping to coach the local Community College with some of the youngsters picking up a hockey stick for the first time. They were using equipment kindly donated by many LXers after the England tournament in October.
The match itself started with even more drizzle and a somewhat cold breeze as well. LX began the match with gusto and kept this up for much of the first half. Although it tailed off slightly towards the half-time whistle. There was some good positional play and some, and I mean some, excellent passing. A goal seemed imminent but the LX forwards were unable to convert this pressure into goals despite a couple of penalty corners. The midfield played well and kept good control on the game with the occasional Gatfers breaks being well dealt with by the back four of Gavin Stones, Colin Pinks, Nigel Guppy, Brian Nichols and Andy Hogg. Yes I know this is five but we ran a substitute system of 10 minutes off then change. 0-0 at half time.
The second half started in the same manner as the first, with the midfield led by Brian Stokes making several inroads into the Gatfers defence. Brian was ably supported by Des Legg and Peter Denley (and sub Alan Wade) but again the forwards of Chris Bollig, Patrick Martin and John Housham could not get the ball in the net. Gatfers pressed hard and the defence held firm even giving away a couple of penalty corners and defending them very well. Several penalty corners were won but no goal ensued. Just towards the end of the third quarter, a superb long pass from defence out to the left wing. Patrick Martin slipped the ball inside to a running Brian Stokes who nimbly passed it to Alan Wade who in the same movement slipped in back to Brian in the D who made a thunderous shot past Paddy Maher into the Gatfers goal. 1 – 0. And Chris was there for the follow up but not needed!
The final quarter saw a lot of pressure from Gatfers and they won another three penalty corners. Again the defence played well and managed to keep the ball out of harm’s way. The last but one of the corners saw a slightly scuffed shot from Mark Watson to be brilliantly saved by Mo Umney in the LX goal. From the last GATFER penalty corner the shot was undercut and hit the full back (well the midfielder acting as left back!!) full on the right shoulder preventing a goal – only to be told that this was the first shot at goal and hence too high anyway. But not quite the end as LX pressed hard and another wonderful long pass saw John Housham on his own on top of the D. However the shot was not quite as good as the pass and the ball sailed past the right hand post. A great game by all and a hard fought first win for LX in this annual sortie. The matches were followed by, once again, an excellent Langstone Cliff Hotel dinner and entertainment. Finally many thanks to Bill and Catherine for organising yet another successful Westerlies tour. I am sure they won’t want to retire from this just yet.