Mens 1st XI 1 Stroud 1 Sunday, November 9, 2008Posted by Steve Vickery in Cheltenham Hockey, Match Report, Mens 1st XI.
A severely depleted Lansdown side missing half of their first squad regulars travelled to Stroud to play in an important top of the table clash. The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides pressing well and little quality hockey being played. Stroud opened the scoring when a Stroud forward fired in from what seemed to be an impossible angle after a scrappy period of play in the Lansdown D. Leading up to half time Lansdown had chances to equalise however none of these chances were converted. The best chance fell to Jack Harber who seemed certain to score from a short corner, however the Stroud keeper saved in spectacular fashion.
The second half was largely dominated by Stroud who started to dictate events in midfield and whose pacey forwards started to cause the Lansdown defence problems. The Lansdown cause was not helped when sweeper Darren Ashenhurst injured his hamstring and was replaced by the injured non-playing captain Paul Vickers. Although he was clearly struggling Paul Vickers showed great commitment in playing the last twenty minutes of the game in pain. Although Stroud was now dominating the game they were unable to score the all important second goal that would surely have finished the game off.
Then from a free hit outside their own D they were made to pay for not finishing the game off when Johnny Bickell found Steve Vickery who scored his first (and probably last!) goal of the season with a clever deflection which left the Stroud goalkeeper with no chance. This goal triggered a hectic closing period to the game with Stroud pushing forward in search of a winner, meanwhile Lansdown were looking dangerous on the break. However no side were able to find a winner and the game finished as a draw. Stroud were clearly the better side on the day, and will be disappointed not to have taken all three points, Lansdown on the other hand can take great heart from the commitment they showed and the fact that a side missing so many players can take an important point from a tricky away game. Nobody showed this commitment more than Ben Nicholls who had an excellent game playing centre midfield.