M1 v City of Peterborough (by Ryan D'Souza)
Wapping rewrite history to seal National League spot
In the penultimate game of the season in the East Premier A Division, Wapping Men’s 1st Team made the long trip to City of Peterborough on Saturday, 12th March 2016, for a top of the table clash. Wapping held a 5 point lead over Peterborough, knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch the highly coveted league title, and gain promotion to the National League.
In the reverse home fixture in December 2015, Peterborough had won 4-2, demonstrating a clinical edge to their game based on lightning fast counter-attacks. As a result, Wapping opted to sit deeper than usual at the start of the game, hoping to remove Peterborough’s counter-attacking threat. The tactics did not work, as Peterborough showed they could also control a game whilst in possession, forcing Wapping deeper and deeper into their own half. After ten minutes, Wapping changed their tactics, moving to an aggressive press that forced the home team back, led by the tireless running of ex-Wales international, Ian Kibble. The tactical switch proved decisive as Peterborough struggled to cope with the increased pressure and Wapping started to dominate.
Goals eventually arrived. Former England junior international and Man of the Match, Phil Messent, took a quick free hit and drilled a low reverse stick shot from the top of the ‘D’ that Kibble deflected home. The second goal came at the perfect time for Wapping, in the final minute of the second half when Messent was first to react to a short corner rebound before beating his man and calmly slipping the ball under the Peterborough goal keeper. With a commanding 2-0 half time lead, Wapping felt comfortable, knowing that Peterborough had to score three second half goals to deny the title coming to London.
Peterborough rallied in the second half with a fifteen minute spell of sustained control of possession and territory. However, the experienced spine of the Wapping team, marshalled by Captain and centre half, Oliver Cooper, and Vice Captain and centre back, Andrew Magro, held firm, with the home team creating very few opportunities. Nevertheless, a short corner award did result in a sloppy goal for Peterborough that ended up being merely a consolation. As Peterborough threw more players forward, Wapping were disappointed not to score a number of chances in the final ten minutes. The final whistle was met with jubilant scenes with the Wapping victory confirming National League status for the 2016/17 season, an astonishing achievement for a club that is only 26 years old. Wapping eventually left the pitch with the partisan home crowd, who had created a fantastic atmosphere throughout, graciously applauding the visitors.
After the match, Wapping coach, Ryan D’Souza, commented: “we are incredibly proud and emotional to win what is acknowledged to be one of the toughest leagues in hockey. The support and goodwill messages we have received has been overwhelming. Promotion to the National League is the result of years of hard and thoughtful planning from many people at Wapping HC, both on and off the pitch, all of who deserve credit. It is important to celebrate success, which we will definitely do, but we also won’t get carried away, as know we must continue to improve. We have already started planning to succeed in the National League, which will be a huge step up”.
Champions Wapping’s will take their 8 point lead into the final game of the season against Old Loughtonians at 12.30pm on Saturday, 19th October 2016.