The 2nd Team had a bit of a selection crisis in a busy week for Guildford WPC and handing it over to the combined, but deteriorating, grey cells of Messrs Disley and Boucher ensured that, from a possible 8 or 9, we ended up with a nice round seven. But a magnificent seven that saw the 2nds confirm the future is indeed bright with a second win on the trot.
Crawley had not adopted previous tactics of near-slanderous journalism in the lower reaches of the West Sussex gutter press and assured us that our seven would only be faced by eight scraped together from a week's unavailabilty crisis. However, by the start of the game we'd counted ten opposition hats and Senior Tactician Disley sagely observed that we'd have to conserve energy, particularly as "Steve" Baker had endured 36 holes of golf rather than a day's work.
The first quarter was a tight period, involving a fair bit of good defending and hassling, and shots hitting the white bits round the nets at both ends. Our tactics involved careful placement of players in key roles and then having the elders surprise the opposition with stealthy breaks into the opposition's danger area. Pit duties were generally shared by Lyle and "Four elbows" Jeanes who notched up four and two goals respectively in the game.
We stayed in touch with Crawley despite inferior numbers and played controlled, mainly sensible, water polo with most people genuinely trying to pass to similarly-hatted players. And this worked damned well if I may say so. Good points included a slow approach to the pit, making the critical pass at the right moment (even when the pitman is watching!). We scored at least three goals by keeping our heads, looking around and moving the ball when a shot wasnt on. Man-up didnt produce any goals (our reporter thinks) but we had a couple of close shots and the positioning was excellent.
Defence was dominated by the massed ranks of the elders - "Steve" Baker, Dis and Jim - and we had numerous breaking opportunities as a result of the ball becoming loose as Crawley's attack broke down. All of the outfield players featured in breaks, Matt got all round the pool, and we had more nouse on the break in the latter quarters.
By the end of quarter three we had had to dig deep stamina-wise and despite our controlled game, Crawley had managed to keep in the hunt, tying the score at 7-7, as we occasionally had players who just couldnt get back to defend. "Alf" Ramsey had another good game between the sticks, occasionally being left to get on with defending the goal single-handedly when the energy levels dropped.
Remarkably though, we took the last quarter with a great display of breaking and defending to run out winners 12-9. A very pleasing result and we should also mention the spirit of the game, with Crawley being a decent bunch to play against, and with a home ref who played a very fair game too. We agreed to direct our respective fixture secretaries to organise another friendly at a convenient time.
At some point we managed to introduce Matt to Tony Baker and unsurprisingly he saw a lot more of the ball when he stopped asking "Steve" to pass to him. Tony had a great game scoring four goals and demonstrating he is as deadly on a break as he is loafing up in the pit when the 36 holes proved a few too many! Jim confirmed that he had indeed received numerous passes in the course of the game and celebrated with two goals from breaks..
Thanks to the magnificent seven who turned up and made it a great game to play in. Bring on the next one.