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Jokers 3 - 0 Wimbledon 5s (A)

13th December 2023

By Jim Hey

Scorers: Stone (PC), Balbirnie (FG), Foster (PC)

Team: Haycroft GK, Hey (Capt), Foster, Barnicoat, Dye, Sayer, Sait, Bowen, Mallinson, Stone, Proudman, Balbirnie, Walbran, Carlisle, Hardy, Milsted

Umpires: Theirs and very well handled

This game could have gone one of two ways even before the whistle had even gone for the start! It’s the busiest weekend for Christmas parties (and we all know how the Jokers like a party) and with an 09.30 push back, who would be in a fit state to play. In readiness for this possible outcome, the Jokers amassed 16 brave men to weather not only the rain and wind in Raynes Park, but also a very keen and youthful Wimbledon side.

In fairness, we needn’t have worried; the warm up was a little subdued, but once the game started the Jokers pretty much took control of the first half and were full of energy and played with a great deal of intensity. It wasn’t long until the Jokers made the pressure count, winning a short corner which was duly converted with an excellent strike from Stone, deflected off the keeper’s glove from a dipping shot.

Then for one of the best moves of the game with some quick thinking from Stone and Milsted, Milsted found Balbirnie closely marked in the last 25m – he worked it into the D, pushed it onto his reverse and smashed it into the bottom left hand corner of the despairing keeper’s goal. The Jokers were buoyed by going two goals up with 20 minutes gone and continued to press, although a few passes started to go awry and Wimbledon had one or two flowing moves of their own, showing us that we couldn’t be complacent. However, towards the end of the first half, the Jokers won another short corner and as often happens, it broke down but up stepped Ravvers who smacked the ball towards goal and took a little deflection via Foster to just beat their keeper. 3-0 at half time.

We were still very much in a game here. Wimbledon were fit and a useful side, but the Jokers turned the screw deciding to build everything from the back, moving the ball from side to side and biding their time. Both sides had the odd chance, Hey should have made it 4-0 when he was put through by Mallinson one-on-one with the keeper but decided to bottle it and try and find Balbirnie to his right (but failed and hence the match report!). Wimbledon called Big T into action a couple of times, with the second of the saves a wondrous reaction save. But the game was to remain 3-0.

This was probably the best hockey the Jokers have played for 70 minutes. The effort from the squad over the past four weeks has been outstanding and has brought about ten points out of an available 12. The side has gelled well over recent weeks, so I hope we are able to continue this form into the second half of the season. Special thanks to Trev for the Boerie rolls after today’s game.