Chelmsford 1 Cambridge 1
East Men’s Hockey League
Chelmsford and Cambridge University shared the spoils in a highly entertaining draw that leaves both sides in the top half of the table.
With the two teams separated only by goal difference, the game was always likely to be close. On a slick pitch, both sides indicated their attacking intents from the outset. With Cambridge relying heavily on their movement and fitness levels and Chelmsford looking to catch their opponents on the counter attack, there were two distinct styles of play on display but there were few chances created for either side. The only real scoring threats in the opening stages came from Cambridge at penalty corners, but the Chelmsford defence repelled any shots that looked goalbound.
For large periods of the first half, Chelmsford made significant forays into the Cambridge half without threatening the hosts’ goal, but with five minutes remaining before half time, Chelmsford took the lead from a sweeping move initiated by Will Hales when he intercepted a Uni cross into his own D. From there a series of quick passes involving Adam Hunter, Harry Rayner, Dillet Gilkes and Simon Taylor left Rayner with the simple task of rolling the ball unmarked into an open goal.
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Within minutes of taking the lead, Cambridge were given a golden opportunity to equalise when Tom Fanger conceded a penalty stroke after a Cambridge forward was fouled as he bore down on goal. However, the students failed to capitalise with the stroke being spectacularly tipped on to the post by Jason Evans.
Despite this setback, Cambridge soon produced a goal from open play with a flowing move down the left flank, and a lapse in the Chelmsford marking left two Cambridge forwards with the chance to pass the ball round Evans and finish from a tight angle.
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In the second half, there were again few clear cut chances created. Cambridge were given a numerical advantage when Hales was sin binned for deliberately breaking down play, but they were unable to make Chelmsford pay as the clock ticked down.
In the final minute of the game, Chelmsford could have stolen victory in the most dramatic fashion when Taylor was put through on goal by Hunter, but the Uni goalkeeper spotted the danger early and smothered Taylor’s first time shot.