Magnets Take Well Earned Point
By Mark Waller
Magnets 1 - 1 Epsom HC Old School
Goalscorer: Steve Green
MoM: Bobby Cheng
After the debacle that saw us contrive to lose the first match of the year to local rivals OCs, this match represented a complete volte face.
Ahead of our match on the show pitch in the last slot of the day there was some apprehension about the prowess of our opponents, the runaway league leaders, who had comprehensively thrashed us in the corresponding away fixture.
All that was soon forgotten as the team played some excellent hockey from the outset, with everyone playing well. Epsom looked threatening each time they attacked, but the defence worked hard to ensure that they had very few scoring opportunities and any shots were comfortably dealt with by Ian, who had another outstanding game in goal. Overall, we had the better of the first half, with some promising attacks, but chances were few and far between. However, a slick exchange of passes from the midfield into the D created space for Steve Green to slot in from close range, which was just what we deserved and enough to unsettle Epsom.
As the second half got underway, the temperature plummeted and the umpires rightly pointed out the hazard posed by the icy D and run-off at the away end. The team captains were happy to play on but agreed that the match should be stopped at the first sign of any problems. In the end, this was not really an issue as Epsom stepped up a gear and kept us out of their D for large parts of the match. But, despite their high press, they created only a handful of chances as each one of the Magnets continued to work extremely hard to defend our narrow lead. Bobby Cheng was instrumental in defence, putting in what many considered to be his best ever performance in a Magnets shirt. He was deservedly the unanimous choice as MoM. Defending staunchly for the most part, we remained a threat going forward on the break. Several moves promised much but unfortunately petered out with soft or misplaced final passes.
Sadly, a mishap and slip in the last five minutes of the game gave Epsom an easy tap-in to equalise. Perhaps no more than they deserved on balance, but a little disheartening for us after working so hard all game. However, as the final whistle blew the disappointment was set aside as we recognised that this had been one of our best performances for a long time. A real team effort, with everyone working hard and sticking to their roles, leaving a feeling of pride and satisfaction.
We all enjoyed the fantastic Thai curry in the clubhouse afterwards, not least Hughie who managed several portions and went away with a doggy bag. Thanks to Oli and Hugh and the kitchen staff for their usual good work. And, above all many thanks to Ronnie and Ray for umpiring so competently in the increasingly inclement temperatures. It was one of those rare games where the umpires were mostly invisible, always a good sign.