Wapping Remain Top of the Pile (Pic Iain McCauslan)
League leaders comprehensively defeat visitors Norwich City and take their 2017 goal tally to 21 in five games whilst claiming their seventh clean sheet of the season.
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre has become somewhat of a fortress for Wapping Men’s 2s since the club moved their top three men’s sides there in 2014. The side are unbeaten at ‘LV’ for two years so a daunting task faced Saturday’s visitors, Norwich City, on a wet and windy day in Stratford.
Recent experience had told Wapping that they struggle to make the first move against weaker opposition, but after Coach Steve Turner had made it clear that this would not be acceptable today, the boys took the game on from the first whistle.
Immediately this endeavour paid dividends when some excellent forward movement and skills from Ian Kibble secured a penalty corner for the home side. Up stepped Dom Oliver to convert from the top with a ‘drag-flick’ just out of the keeper’s range.
Kibble was involved in the sides second too when after some nice build up around the back and through midfield, taking in players including Nick McLaren, Ollie Davies and Adam Haines, he convincingly finished off the Wapping move with a strike into the bottom corner from just right of the top of the ’D’.
Wapping seemed to struggle to maintain the high tempo they had displayed for the first 20 minutes. Where previously Norwich City had enjoyed no possession in the Wapping half, they started to get results. Fortunately for Wapping, when they did have a chance from a penalty corner Oliver Watts and Sam Philpott were there to snuff out the chance.
At the half time interval, it was clear the home side were vastly superior, but the goal tally only showed a deficit of two. Wapping went out to rectify this imbalance in the second period.
Strangely, they seemed to assume they could do this with only ten men, as when the half started a mix up between coach Turner and Dutch forward Michael Bolle left the home side briefly with a numerical disadvantage.
Once this was corrected there was no stopping Wapping, who put on a ‘tour de force’ display of attacking hockey, whilst the best defence in the league held firm to breakaway threats on the counter.
First came the crucial third goal. Some excellent midfield play saw joint Man of the Match James Fanger escape the visitor’s defence efforts before playing a superb ball into the ‘D’ where Bolle made amends for his calamitous non-start to the half by deflecting the ball into the bottom corner.
Confidence was now flowing freely through the home side, encouraged on by the vociferous home support as much as the hope of shutting up the away fans who were equally as vocal.
Once again it was Kibble who highlighted the gulf in class between the two sides when he marauded across the ‘D’ beating woeful defensive efforts before cracking a reverse stick strike into the bottom corner of the backboard, the keeper could only wave the joint Man of the Match’s strike by.
Wapping did have one lapse in concentration when they allowed a rare Norwich shot on target. However, James Bowler in the home goal saw off the danger after not being involved for the best part of 60 minutes, his concentration the sign of a great goalkeeper.
In-fact Bowler helped assist the next Wapping goal with his save, as the ball was cleared by left-back Davies up to Fanger, who’s vision and class picked out Dom Oliver sprinting for the back post where Fanger placed the perfect ball for a reverse stick deflection into the back of the net for a 5-0 lead.
But there was still time for a sixth conversion and time for Alain Traill to get his weekly goal from a penalty corner. The committed Scottish forward, who had had a mixed game, threw himself to the turf to get on the end of Oliver’s assist and deflect the ball over the line for his side’s sixth and final goal.
Overall a confident and comprehensive display from the league leaders, who visit Upminster next weekend before a potential title deciding weekend at home the following week.