Having lost 4 – 0 to Rickmansworth 1s back in October, Berko went into this match expecting it to be tough and with a healthy respect for the opposition.
The team were also down to the bare 11 and, what with Nigel’s dodgy calves, you could say 10 and a half!
Rickmansworth won the toss and started with the ball and the Berko defence, marshaled by Mark Boothroyd in goal, soaked up the early pressure, repeatedly stepping in front to win the ball from the opposition who were looking to play it long. Having gained possession, Berko countered with pace and quick passing which caused the Ricky defence all sorts of problems. Berko were getting control of the game and pressing forward despite even with Ricky leaving 3 men high for the quick counter. This was always a risk but Berko were able to exploit the space and create chances. There were some great combinations down both flanks through Will Alderson and Roger Payton and Charlie Gray and Ollie Bowman. Payton and Bowman both claimed goals picking up the loose ball from saves by the oppositions youthful but excellent keeper.
2 -0 up and under no real pressure, Berko switched off momentarily after a clear foul was not awarded (Ricky player playing the ball while sitting on the deck obstructing the defender), play was allowed to continue and before the defence could get organized the ball was in the net!
2 -1 at half time, a score that didn’t reflect the home team’s superiority, Berko started the second half with more excellent, fast moving hockey building on the total control in defence. Robin Page showed great composure and skill, manfully assisted by the ailing Nigel Edwards, an uncompromising game from Simon Webb and the usual determination from Jason Silver in central midfield.
Eventually, the 2 goal deficit was regained with a great finish by Bowman who managed to leave a fair percentage of his skin on the pitch! The game was briefly delayed to wash away the blood he’d donated.
3 -1 up and Berko continued to dominate until tired legs and brains in the last 10 minutes allowed Ricky back into the game. Nigel, reduced to walking pace, was switched to centre forward for the rest of the game and almost claimed a fourth goal. The defence was reorganized, and Berko rode out the last few minutes in a rather unnecessarily nervy way!
Nevertheless, a great win which should have been a bit more convincing, the guys up front being frustrated by an impressive opposition goal keeping display. A well deserved 3 points. Man of the match went to Robin, run close by Simon Webb. Sorry Rog, your Indian fan club doesn’t count!
Well played everyone!