Wapping M9 v Saffron Walden M4 (h)
"flashes of brilliance, moments of idiocy"
If you ever want to know what the Wapping M9 are all about, then the highlight reel of this game will pretty much sum it up - 3 MOMs, 2 DODs, flashes of brilliance, moments of idiocy... this game had it all.
Before we could start the game there was an element of panic amongst the squad, as our goalkeeper Rik Lodhia missed the memo that it was a 2pm start, not 2.30. Fingers were pointed and ultimately the captain had to accept responsibility, having said it was a 2.30 start earlier in the week before correcting himself when the final team-sheet went out.
After using up every minute available to them to delay push-back the game got underway. The 9s have had a tendency this season to start games very slowly, going down early on and fighting an uphill battle thereafter. Not today though... Wapping push back, keep hold of the ball, work it down the left wing, pulled back to the top of the D, shot, deflection, goal. According to the umpire 42 seconds was the time on the clock, and Saffron Walden had yet to touch the ball. Liam Flynn the man to convert at the back post to get his first goal for Wapping.
Wapping continued to press forward, encouraged by their start and starting to have the belief that this could be their day. Debutant Sam Topping was showing his class immediately up front with some exceptional stick skills. Unfortunately his footwear did not match his skill, as he continued to struggle to find grip on the wet JO pitch and found himself slipping at crucial moments. He was not the only one, as a number of players on both sides kept going down, turning the next phase of the game into a more cagey affair after Wapping's positive start. Saffron Walden started to grow into the game more, and after a period in the Wapping half managed to convert a short corner to draw level.
Undeterred, Wapping set about restoring their lead. Some more good passing play and continued pressure on the Saffron Walden D led to Wapping's second, with skipper Matt Wheeler helping himself to a tap in at the back post, and Wapping would take the lead into half time.
Anyone who has seen the M9s play this season will be aware that we are not the most highly-tuned athletes, but even for us the 5 bags of sweets that were on offer at the half-time team talk were probably a little too much. There was less chat and more chewing, which could explain Wapping's slow start to the second half.
Saffron Walden started the half the much stronger team and it wasn't long until they were rewarded with another equaliser, after the Wapping right hand side momentarily fell asleep and the SW striker was left with a tap in at the back post.
Another wake up call for Wapping, and we started to push again trying to find the winner, whilst also having more nervy moments at the back. Rik in goal pulled off a couple of great saves and was clearing everything out his D superbly to prevent things getting worse, and we had our chances at the other end with a few short corners, but ultimately we were unable to convert and the game ended 2-2.
Three-way tie for MOM went to Rik Lodhia, Liam Flynn and Jon Lowe, all of whom were brilliant, whilst DOD was shared amongst Jonny Ellis (trying to pick the ball up in the D whilst the game was still going on) and Paul Whelan (victim of the slippery surface during the warm-up).
Next up Wapping M9 travel out to top of the league Witham. If we can cut out the lapses in concentration and play our best hockey for 70 minutes then there is a belief amongst the 9s that we can compete with any team in this league. A big three points is just around the corner...