Jokers 2 - 0 Teddington 4s (H)
By Jim Hey
Team: Haycroft, Draper, Foster, Sayer, Hardy, Bowen, Hey (Capt), Balbirnie, Stone, Mallinson, Hodges, Treherne, Kuipers, Mills, Milsted.
Umpires: Lloyd, Pirie – thank you – see below.
Happy New Year one and all.
After a rather heavy mid-season training camp for most of the Jokers squad, we weren’t sure what to expect on the pitch so soon after the festive period. Normally we’d have another week to recover, but this was a re-arranged fixture from just before Christmas so needed to be played ASAP.
We had a squad of 15 which was impressive but we all knew we’d need it! With Jim Sayer returning from a long term injury (good to have you back Jim) and a couple of injury and health worries, we would need all 15 against a (mostly) very youthful Teddington side.
The quality of hockey from both sides, so soon after Christmas, was very good. The basics seemed to hold up for the majority of the game. But it was Surbiton who looked the more likely to score in the first 35 minutes, constantly threatening down the right hand side with Sayer and Phil “The Power” Balbirnie linking up well, finding an extremely lively front line of Mallinson, Hodges & Milsted. Even if Teddington did find their way through a sold midfield of Stone, Boden, Balbirnie, Hardy, Mills and Hey (subs obviously included), our exceptional defence mopped most things up (and would challenge most defences in their current form). Special mention to Haycroft, Foster and Draper for keeping their heads throughout the game.
It wasn’t until the 25th minute that the deadlock was broken - a well worked short corner and a dipping drag flick beat the keeper to his left. I say dipping as I’m not sure Trevor quite caught it, but it did enough to deceive the keeper… 1-0 ( just as well we practiced our short corner routines before the game as most were on the bench by this point!). It remained 1-0 at half time and gave us a chance to regroup. It was beginning to get a little ragged and we needed a chance to chat through what was going wrong… and it seemed to work.
The Jokers started the half strongly and started to make the necessary runs to create the spaces for the man with the ball, moving better out of channels and creating some good attacking opportunities. Balbirnie, always looking dangerous going forwards, linking up well with Stone and Mallinson to put continued pressure on the Teddington defence. We also didn’t let them settle with the ball and the bench rotation played a massive part here. On the stroke of 50 minutes, after some great team work, the ball fell for Balbirnie in the circle who smashed it in against the backboard… 2-0. A well taken and deserved goal, but Teddington were still very much in the game.
They started to find holes in a slightly tiring Jokers team, although everyone was putting in a shift (special mention to Jon B for his relentless running). A few mistakes were creeping in, but Big T in goal was marshalling his defence with aplomb and made two or three top quality saves to keep the Jokers in the game. Teddington may feel they could have got something out of the game, but I think on the balance of play the three points were fairly won by Surbiton.
A tremendous effort by all the boys and thanks so much to Lloydy and Nat for umpiring so well – both sides were impressed by the standard of the umpiring. We have a tough few weeks ahead with the top two in the league next up, but hopefully we can keep this form and commitment up and take the maximum points.