Men's 4th XI v Maldon 2
This top of the table clash versus local rivals Maldon promised to be a real humdinger; both teams had lost only 1 game each up to this point, so it was safe to assume that there would be goals but just how many?
The mid-week squad announcement confirmed that a majority of the core M4’s squad were fit and available and as an exciting footnote pronounced that CHC legend Jonny Wilcox would be joining us as he eased himself gently into his first match of the season.
Come game day and the squad had changed a little, on hearing of Justin Ross’s selection for the England Hockey Junior Performance Squad (well done chap!) Dicky quickly snaffled him for the M3’s. Mr Wilcox was to be a disappointing late non-starter, but better news for the M4s was the return of Matt Nicks from injury and the addition of Jack Meer; called up to the M4s following his eye-catching performance in the recent M5 vs M6 clash.
Immediately from push back it was evident that this was going to be a high intensity affair, with both teams pushing hard from the off, parrying and thrusting in an attempt to gain an advantage on goal. Both teams had great efforts across the D but very few direct strikes on goal. The nearest and best effort coming from the M4s as Bryan tried to connect on the left post from a strong cross. With Chelmsford appearing to be gaining the greater momentum, Maldon hammered a fast ball into the D which found an unmarked striker able to deflect the ball in to the Chelmsford goal in one smooth movement, 0 – 1 to Maldon.
Half time brought one of the most intensive team talks of the season, with unusually several players adding their input – all keen to encourage a continuation of the first half intensity.
The second half started just as competitively and for a while it looked difficult to see where either side would find enough to gain an advantage. Rallied by the ever positive Rob Dyer the M4s stuck to their task and quickly re-found the game plan and before long Bryan picked a ball magnificently out of the air and into the back of the Maldon goal in one fell swoop, 1 – 1!
When a Maldon player who was green carded for repeated stick tackling had the penalty upgraded to a yellow whilst on the side-line, Chelmsford had to press the advantage. Shots on the Maldon goal were building and although they yielded no goals they did provide some short corners, which in a reverse of the past few games the M4s efficiently converted into a goal via the skilful Tufty, moving his seasons tally to 10 and taking the M4s 2 – 1 ahead.
With Maldon back up to 11 players this high intensity game once again started swinging both ways, Chelmsford still looked the better side (only just), so it was a bit of a shock when a Maldon striker was able to take the ball down the right hand base line unheeded and neatly found the goal by placing the ball to the side of the hapless Chelmsford keeper Darren. 2 – 2.
Lifted by this unexpected bonus, Maldon kept up the intensity and in spite of several more unsuccessful attempts on goal by the M4’s it was to Maldon who scored again, once more from an outfield play – the hard strike was partly intercepted by Darren’s left pad but not enough for the strike not to go in, compounding the Chelmsford keeper’s misery.
With the clock ticking down and nursing a 2 – 3 advantage Maldon pulled up the drawbridge, content to defend and smother. Tempers were becoming frayed and when the same Maldon player saw another yellow and ultimately a red card, Chelmsford pushed flat out to try and get something from this game. After a flurry of D incursions the M4s ‘won’ another short corner, with a maelstrom of crowd noise courtesy of the Mens Vets arriving for their game Rob Dyer coolly found the back of the net with minutes to go; 3 – 3!
The point from today’s game for the M4’s keeps us in second place in the league; 6 points ahead of third place Waltham Forrest, pushing Maldon down into 4th place.