Stafford Hockey First Xl travelled to Wednsbury, a team that had bested Stafford on three prior occasions. Despite this there was confidence about the team, Ed had constructed a new formation of three in the middle and three up top which going seemed logical as it gave us the ability to stretch the play and attack from all angles.
As the game commenced Stafford took immediate control; the ball barely came out of the Wednsbury half within the first ten minutes and if it did it was only due to a long clearance or a single player trying to break. There was such fluidity and grace in Stafford’s build up play, the ball moved from Piers Wooler on one flank into Ben Hollands and across to Colin Bishop on the other flank with ease. Needless to say but Wednsbury had little option but to park the bus and hope that Stafford’s immense pressure wouldn’t be capitalised upon. Stafford came close to scoring; Andy Peatfield, James Faulconbridge, Charlie Trotter and Daniel Rennie all had the opportunity to get their names onto the score sheet. Unfortunately though due to Wednsbury’s defensive resolve none of these chances were converted. In spite of the early pressure Stafford found themselves 1-0 down at the break following a swift counter-attack from the opposition which resulted in a short corner. After the initial strike was saved the ball fell to an open attacker in front of Gareth Minton who was still on the floor, he had the simplest of jobs of just placing the ball into the net.
Despite the goal deficit going into the second half Stafford were determined that they could still win; given they retained the intensity shown in the first half. This they managed to do however Stafford just couldn’t score. Not because of a lack of possession or because the play was bad, but because Stafford were unable to create enough chances. It seemed like as soon as the ball got to the D all of the play amounted to nothing and Wednsbury were able to defend and clear. The second half played out much like the first did, Stafford played wonderful hockey whilst retaining possession, and however the final product just wasn’t there. The icing on the cake came near the end of the game when Stafford’s opponents got their second goal, killing off the match. Again coming from a short corner, since time though the ball left the D and came to a Wednsbury player who was baking up the play. He smashed it back into Stafford’s defensive zone and was deflected into the goal of a Wednsbury stick.
It was disappointing that Stafford couldn’t follow up on last week’s victory with another victory. It also feels familiar that we dominate a game and don’t get a real result from it. All that Stafford can do is keep their heads up and not lose hope that this great possession hockey can be turned into victories.