Jim suggested a Sound of Music theme.  Can’t quite remember why now. 
Anyway, to a Favourite Things soundtrack...

« A goal for the M4s
A short injury sick list
Spells of possession with enviable stick skills
Goalkeepers standing with nothing to do
These are a few of the rarest of things. »

To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we have been to the top of the mountain, played all the teams we need to face (already), been royally thumped (mostly); but we have seen the other side.   
This was the first of the reverse fixtures, against a good Royston side - and our best M4s performance for a few weeks.  
We ran out 3-1 losers in the end (we need space to grow into) but it was a fun match - closely fought, competitive and (aside from one bout of shameful moaning at the umpires from our opponents) played in good spirit.
No overcoat and faded denim for Captain Jim this week.  Great to see him on the pitch again.  He had a superb game, marshalling the defence and knocking numerous probing passes through to the front line of Tom, Alfie, Dubi and Ben (beard).    (Jim’s reward is to delegate the match the report.)
It was excellent also to see the Gardiner double bill down the left, and Dave back from the injury room.
The first half started off tight but after a sustained period of pressure, Royston bagged a couple of goals: the first well worked and pushed in from the penalty spot, the second a little soft from the top of the D.  
But the second half was a different story.  We were much more cohesive, with long periods giving Brett a chance to sit back and enjoy the Meadowcroft skyline. 
Ben M (on kind loan today) moved to the front line and we had some fine interplay with Tom, Dubi and Alfie, supported by Iwan, Nick and a couple of Howells in the centre of the park.  
Jim passed the ball to Ben H who took it to the top of the D, cracked it towards the corner.  The ball took a slight but helpful deflection off a defender’s stick, the Royston keeper was up-ended, and we were back in the game.    
We had some decent chances to bring it back to parity but - perhaps over-committing - we were caught on the break, and they bagged a third.
The last minutes were something of a flurry, no shortage of tumbles on the wet astro from both sides - but that was it.  We finished 3-1.
Heartening performances all round and a positive way to head for the Christmas break.
Oscar was a definite contender for man of the match with his work on the right of defence:  some critical tackles and lovely skills to take the ball out of defence.
Brett was his usual dependable self - liberated perhaps by not having to check the back board quite so often - clawing away a number of chances.  
But the vote went to Ben (no beard).  A great all round display capped with the hen’s tooth of hockey - an M4s goal.
The line up:  Brett, Jim, Oscar, Dave, Nick, Alfie, Iwan, Ben (beard), Andy, Ben (no beard), Tom, Dubi
And many thanks to our umpires, Jamie and Jason.