Next report from guest writer Woody – live from Andy’s toy box. This report is accompanied by stats from both games. Goal hanger Bedford is taking his place at the top of the goal charts whilst Punchy Holah and Robo-hip Bowen are putting in solid performances to challenge Weeble for the Catas Trohpy… Enjoy!!
Thursday evening saw the Narwhal horde descend to the depths of Morden to take on Sutton and Cheam’s second (…) team. The opposition had clearly struggled to find players as they numbered only 7 in total, likely only achieved after some panicked last minute cries for help. The Narwhals, as has been the case in recent games were aplenty, a firm 10 turning out to do battle once again. It would appear this rally of numbers was where our achievement ended for the night, and what follows is a sorry tale of woe, floundering, and despair. The derelict and dilapidated Morden Park Pool, much in need of a coat of paint or a demolition contract, served as a fitting metaphor for the play we exhibited in what proved to be a long hour within its 4 high walls.
The first quarter started with a lost swim off (were we missing Gamble already?!). It rapidly became clear that the opposition’s main threat was former Olympian Matt Holland, who took a while to get used to in defence and attack. We tried a drop in the narrow pool, and while their pit had little success, we were too quick to leave shooters free and we conceded from the outside. Going forward we lacked ideas save for a couple of goals from Dan, the first in particular proving memorable for his sheer persistence under heavy pressure to put the ball over the keeper’s head. This was the moment of the match. After one quarter the scoreline read Matt Holland (and a few others) 5, Dan Bedford 2.
Cue the second quarter, and the Narwhals felt more comfortable defending in deeper waters, or so we thought. Our defence here proved leakier than the pool’s ceiling (which has a large net to catch falling roof tiles), and we conceded a further 6 goals. 3 exclusions and the resultant goals scored from Sutton’s men up had hurt us, but our poor passing, and poor finishing meant only Phil troubled the scoreboard all quarter. 11-3, and looking like our recent form had deserted us.
Phil and Dan scored a goal each in the third quarter, and remained the only Narwhals to trouble the net with only one quarter to go. On a more positive note, we held Sutton to only 2 goals of their own as we adopted a press defence which proved more effective (a draw for the quarter felt like a massive victory at the time). In one of the stranger episodes of the game, Rob attempted an ill-advised back hook shot from his right wing, and while the ball did little to trouble the goal, his flailing arm did connect with an unfortunate Sutton defender and split his eyelid open. Sutton now down to 6, blood everywhere, apologies all round, and surely now we might have a chance.
Its unusual to get such a prolonged opportunity to practice man up attack, and we now had 8 minutes of nothing but a man advantage. Sadly it quickly became evident that 8 minutes was nowhere near the time we required to make our man up play passable, and we continued to allow goals from a Sutton team a man short, while squandering opportunities at the other end. One particularly memorable failure was Phil’s attempt to put the ball in to Dan in the pit as we were 2-on-1, only managing to put the ball firmly in the grasp of the one defender. This earned him fluffer for the week. After this things picked up. Gary and Finch Sr. bagged a pair of goals each, and Holah once again left his post at pit defence briefly to score a self-branded ‘wonder goal’ ricocheting off the keeper, the bar, possibly a defender and the surface of the water all before finding the net. The final quarter was won 5-4. The match was lost 18-11. Man of the match was Dan for his efforts in attack and defence. At the post-match debrief in the pub, it was decided to send the Narwhals back to school, with classroom sessions beginning next week. Probably followed by several passing drills and man up.