Five-Star Wapping M2s Claim Promotion Points
A hat-trick from vice-captain Dom Oliver helped M2s to 5-0 win over Bishop’s Stortford, cementing promotion to East Prem B - All images Iain McCauslan
After the vital victory against fellow promotion chasers Shefford & Sandy on Saturday, Wapping took the field again at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre against a tricky Bishops Stortford side riding high after two wins on the trot.
Despite 12 of the squad being unchanged from the day before, who had so clinically dispatched Shefford, there were no signs of stiffness or complacency in the home ranks from the first whistle.
The attacking shape and movement from the forward and midfield units was superb, playing with the confidence allowed from having the best defence in the East Hockey region as a platform to build upon each week.
Led by skipper Charley Wright and boasting Dudley Spiers, Dan Chamberlain, Dylan Holman and the energetic Sam Philpott, along with the injured Oli Watts and absent Ollie Davies, the defensive group have conceded only 20 goals in 20 games, a feat unmatched in any other league in the region.
The midfield magic made the spectators purr when a slick move started by Olly Cooper and including inside right James Fanger, forward Jonny Madill and the returning Edward Fry ended in the back of the net thanks to the sliding deflection of Dom Oliver.
The strike, from Madill’s reverse stick sweep, brought Oliver his second of the weekend. It would not be his last.
Visiting LV is never easy for any away side, but Bishop’s Stortford struggled to offer any threat to James Bowler’s goal for much of the first period.
This further emboldened the attacking unit of Wapping, who twisted and turned through the visitor’s defence a number of times, earning multiple penalty corners.
Although at first the maroon-clad men seemed to struggle to find their radar, on their third PC attempt in a row their efforts bore fruit. Sweeper Spiers converted from a clever routine that wrong footed the Stortford ‘keeper to put the hosts 2-0 to the good at the break.
Period two started in stark contrast to the first, with Stortford mounting their first forays into the Wapping 22-metre area with increasing intent.
Wapping’s defence stood strong, well marshalled by Spiers and Wright, to keep their visitor’s efforts at bay and maintain another clean sheet, their eighth of the season.
Pressure from the guests is not something that the league leaders are used to or suffer gladly, a fact they proved over the following 20 minutes.
Oliver again was the driving force, linking with Madill and Matt Hyden to win a penalty corner before converting another deflection for his second and his side’s third with considerable aplomb from a lesser used, but well-drilled, routine.
Still Wapping maintained their intensity and dominance in possession. Still they threw waves of well worked, sweeping attacking moves over their opposition, drowning them in the class only the best team in the league could deliver.
The unrelenting tide of pressure told again when another penalty corner was won through Wapping legend Michael Bolle’s silky skills, the defenders appearing all at sea in the face of his Poseidon-like ball control.
Converting the corner was never in question, via a routine now known only as ‘The Alain’; the Scottish forward showing typical commitment to get his second of the double header weekend, and his side’s fourth on the day.
There was still more time for the Dom Oliver man of the match show to roll on without remorse through the battered Stortford defences. This time it was Jason Black providing the assist with a quality ball towards the back post, tempting Oliver once more into a diving deflection, an opportunity he again converted with the finesse and grace that only a Wolverhampton boy can possess.
At 5-0 and the promotion mission all but achieved, the host’s feet understandably came off the pedal a little with five minutes to go. Despite central midfield maestro Adam Haines’ typical fluid and effective performance, Stortford managed a couple of chances late on.
Luckily for the home side, they could rely on their home counties hero Bowler in goal to snuff the opportunity out and bring down the curtain on a one sided encounter, the score a thumping 5-0.
And with the final whistle came the celebrations. A second promotion in three seasons for the M2s under the stewardship of coach Steve Turner and Captain Wright is well deserved and owes a great deal to the dedication and commitment of a large squad of quality players over the years.
They now have an opportunity to all but sew up the league title next week at home vs Blueharts before a ‘lap of honour’ encounter away at Harleston on March 25th.