Let’s get the headlines out of the way: it was a 6-1 drubbing.
Momentum felt well and truly swinging Strandwards on Wendesday, but a very promising fixture in men’s hockey turned from sour to downright bitter on a warm and overcast June evening. A good matchup was promised, with both teams at somewhat full strength and promising to bring different style of plays to the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis centre. Things got well into swing in the first half, as the boys in red (cheered on by a scant showing from the strand faithful) looked to play the ball quickly down the channels, sighting out as many opportunistic passes as possible.
Unfortunately, this fast and furious setup left some holes at the back for a well-disciplined UCL (three words that usually do not go together) to exploit. A fast break and a short corner led to Gower opening the scoring, courtesy of some aggressive stick work from their lanky fella up top (we didn’t get team sheets, sue me).
However, a bit more balance meant King’s found some rhythm and began slinging it around like prime Belgium (who I am told are the best field hockey team in the world at the moment). A bit of magic from no.22 here and there (apologies fella, wish I had your name) created gaping holes in the lacklustre Gower defence, though few opportunities were fully exploited. Some back and forth later and into the break we went, 1-0 down but spirits buoyed.
A bit wobbly to start off the second half, some passes from the lads in red were just short or clipping the edge of their sticks, and resulted in some unnecessary turnovers. UCL did what needed be done, and it was 2-0 to the opportunistic rats from up north. I mean, fair play. This really got some bellies rumbling though. More magic dribbles, a few long balls down the flanks (talk about vision) and a tirade of short corners followed, before King’s pulled one back with around 20 minutes to go. Game on.
Or not. Not at all, really. This is when it turned into a bit of a rout. One of their players, who I can’t identify beyond saying that he looked a bit too old to be going to uni, took it upon himself to turn every UCL turnover into a massive lump down the field, and it worked. A bit too well. 3-1. 4-1. 5-1. 6-1. Game set and match.
It seems extremely clichéed to say it, especially following such a (shall we say) disappointing scoreline, but it really was a valiant effort from the Strand boys. Two thirds of the game had the teams extremely evenly matched, and for a team who haven’t played any competitive fixtures since last Varsity when I was blasting my personal playlist over the aux, it was damn impressive.
Take it on the chins lads, we’ve got Thursday to take care of.