Jokers 3 - 3 London Wayfarers Pirates (A)
By Harry Hodges
Team: Haycroft (Capt), Draper, Hardy, Newton, Stolberg, Bowen, Hodges, Burns, Kuipers, Leach, Riley, Bloxham.
Umpires – theirs – thank you.
Back end of nowhere, and only a point to tell for our efforts.
We turned up to face the Wayfarer Pirates, clearly at home with a beach for a pitch, and a glint in their eye looking up to us from the bottom of the table and fancying the points. Unfortunately, the Jokers played like we were already on our Christmas break.
Despite a bright start controlling play and setting our sun loungers in their half we went into the break 2-0 down.
Early play down the sides saw some joy for the Jokers, forcing some smart saves from the oppo keeper. Nonetheless we were caught out poorly on the break in the first half after 25 minutes, seeing their striker dig one out of the dune and over Tony. 1-0 down.
Keeping heads high and staying positive we continued to push them deep into their own half, but without striking the backboard or seeing the net bulge. We were giving them broadside after broadside from the top of the D, stacking up the short corners with no success. Unfortunately they got one of their own with five minutes left of the half and put a drag flick down the centre left, through Tony’s stick and onto the scoreboard for 2-0.
Half time whistle and steely eyed JJ rallied the beach bums back into the formidable squad that we are, dodgy hips, jammy knees, cricked backs and all.
Out we ran and onto the scoreboard within the first five minutes, the comeback was on everyone’s minds! Young Alfie drew defenders across the top of the D before slotting the ball just right of the P spot to find Harry. Selflessly Harry pushed aside all thoughts of glory for himself, through a pinpoint pass to the back post for Jabba to drive it past the flailing keeper and onto the backboard.
Heads were up but it wasn’t long before the Pirates gave us a broadside of their own, running a sleek counter attack through our overstretched midfield and around our defence. A dodgy trap from a sharp interception gave them the sniff they needed and they found a swift answer to regain a two goal lead.
Heads did not drop and persistence paid dividends when we tried something different from the top of the D, Ben taking his chance (at the second time of asking) when Jabba put it back to the injector at the backpost.
Sunglasses, twirly umbrellas and flip flops firmly back in the dugout the Jokers drove forward finding success down the sides but still unable to convert further short corners and put one below the Pirates’ waterline. Until a great combination and lucky break of the ball allowed Harry to drive through another bit of great team play to Jabba at the back post, on his toes as always. 3-3 with a swish of the stick and with less than five minutes on the clock we gave it our all to earn an unlikely win.
It wasn’t to be, and with the umpire's final whistle a few sighs of relief but undoubted disappointment not to turn over what should have been a steady three points.
A point is a step in the right direction nonetheless, and with the benefit of a week off the Jokers will be back refreshed, definitely leaving the beachballs at home next time.