Canterbury 5 Chelmsford 1
England Hockey League
Men's Conference East
Canterbury 5 Chelmsford 1
CHELMSFORD played their final game of 2009 on Saturday, away to Canterbury in an evening game. Canterbury hosted this game with a strong crowd of over 150 people and had music playing out to the pitch as the teams warmed up creating an electric atmosphere.
With Chelmsford only losing at Chelmer Park by one goal in the home fixture, they knew they could potentially cause an upset to the title challengers which was reflected by the resilient effort of Chelmsford who were solid in defence and created a number of chances in the first 25 minutes where the score was 0-0.
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Canterbury scored two goals in the space of eight minutes, the first a deflected ball that was slotted into the corner from a pass 25 yards out, the second was scored after Canterbury took advantage of a cheap double turnover of possession where the ball was transferred to the opposite side of the pitch and then pushed into the onion bag.
At half-time Chelmsford remained positive as they were competing throughout and playing good hockey, they just couldn't convert their chances and needed to bit slightly tighter on players all over the pitch. Chelmsford came out in the second half pressing hard and were putting the Canterbury defence under a lot of pressure which was rewarded in the 45th minute with a converted short corner drag flick from Adrian Palmer, his 6th goal of the season.
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However things took a turn for the worse minutes later when they were hit with a double whammy of problems. First, Luke Mepham received a yellow for a reverse tackle attempt on a Canterbury player from the restart and just after this Canterbury regained their two-goal lead through intricate play down the left hand side meaning Chelmsford were under a lot of pressure. A number of cards were then chucked out with a Canterbury seeing yellow for a sliding reverse challenge and then Josh Mepham received the same orders soon after for a similar offence.
Despite this Chelmsford pushed on searching for a goal which made them susceptible to counter attacks which the defence dealt with well. The ever present skills of Luke Mepham on the right and the work rate and movement of the forwards would not result in a goal despite making good chances. A Ross Henderson deflection went inches passed the post and soon after Marc Pike managed to force his way through two players and pushed the ball under the keeper but just outside the near post.
Due to Chelmsford attacking so much it left them short at the back and were split like a banana from all sides for the fourth goal which isolated goalkeeper Carl Wright who had the ball cruelly slipped beneath him. Wright made a number of good saves throughout the game including a spectacular diving save to his left after a powerful shot from the left hand side to the 'D'.
For the final 15 minutes Will Affleck made another appearance in goal and made a fine stick save from international Kwane Browne but was beaten soon after with another Canterbury counter attack.
Chelmsford now have a break until February where they know they face a tough relegation battle especially with Bromley & Beckenham unexpectedly beating Old Loughtonians this weekend.
They can also look forward to the return of Adam Hunter, Willy Hales, and Jason Evans who will raise the competition a first team place. From the 10 games played they know they should have had points from a number of teams and will be eager to put this right on the return fixtures and show why they deserve to play in this league and push forward in the future. Every player believes that the team can do this through positivity, team unity, taking individual responsibility and stepping up in 2010 which starts from now. There is no more time for excuses, our first game in February against Indian Gymkhana is a must win game and will no doubt need your support on the day.