UCLU Men’s Hockey 1st XI secure 4 out of 4 wins

UCLU Men’s Hockey 1st XI thrash Chichester 7-2 in the “biggest match in UCL Men’s Hockey history”.

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Lectures sacked off? Check. A nutritious Upper Crust baguette purchased (Louisiana BBQ Chicken preferred)? Check. Bottle of questionable vino in the bag? Check. Just another Wednesday afternoon in the life and times of UCLU Men’s Hockey 1st XI.

Trudging, nay, striding purposefully through the freshly churned up mud of Surrey, battling through aggressively placed vegetation, the team arrived at Fortress Thames Ditton for, as Captain and token Irishman Ciaran Kelly described, the ‘Biggest Match in UCL’s History’ (he says that a lot, mind).

This was indeed the biggest match in UCLU Men’s Hockey history – having finally made it out of the dreaded 2A after 8 attempts, the 1st XI have managed to secure 3 out of 3 wins thus far in the ‘elite’ 1A.

The opposition represented the biggest challenge to the team’s fledging promotion hopes, with Chichester on 4 from 4. Plus Chichester ruined the 1s’ 2A league campaign two years before – indeed, the mighty UC 1s had not lost a BUCS League game since losing to this very opposition in November 2011. It was so huge even National League and Italian International ‘Italian Stallion’ Giulio Ferrini got some pre game nerves and decided to ignore the meet time and location. He does what he wants.

Man of the Match Chris Bentley in action against Accies.

Man of the Match Chris Bentley in action against Accies.

 

After Charlie Higgs’ usual pre-game terrible chat and a tactical team talk from Alumni coach Ed ‘Sideboob’ James, the lads warmed up, sharp and focused. Even Barney Chapman managed to connect with the ball on a number of occasions whilst shooting on goal. Surely an omen? Huddles over, whistle blown. Game on.

The match started with some nice link up play between the midfield and forwards, countered by a reasonable display from the Chichester defence. However, with chances beginning to be created and the larj centre back pairing of David ‘I play for Hampshire’ Vidler and former President Chris Bentley standing strong, it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken.

After Ferrini’s shot from the top of the D was saved by the oppo keeper, Danny Bond was on hand to slap the soft rebound into the corner of the net. The crowd went wild. Ed with the double high fives on the touchline. 1-0 UC.

However, if the lads thought this was a time to cruise, they were wrong. Some concerted pressure from Chichester, wearing horrible vomit-yellow tops, resulted in the defence and keeper having to make some last ditch stops. This culminated in a superb diving tackle from the Enforcer Bentley, who, having cleanly got the ball, cleaned up the man also. Short Corner. Yellow Card. Outrage from UC, but umpires will be umpires. From the resulting short, a well worked move from Chichester resulted with an unstoppable deflection finding the back of the net. 1-1 and pressure on.

The rest of the half was a relatively tame affair, with a few chances at either end. At half time the game was in the balance; the situation was mused upon by the UC men whilst chewing on some delicious half time jelly babies. Social Sec Steven Lowe stared into the abyss, no doubt considering Sainsbury’s Basic White to be a bad choice for the evening festivities. Talk over. Let’s go.

The turning point in the game came in the first 30 seconds of the second half. On the back foot immediately, Chichester fashioned a direct shot from the top. Somehow, President and Goalkeeper extraordinaire Chris Baker managed to instinctively leap to his left and pluck the ball out of the top corner and push it onto the post. Gasps and astonishment from the crowd; Chichester could scarcely comprehend what had just happened.

UC took advantage and via a usual Ferrini run through the entire team, the ball made its way to Kelly to smash home, 2-1 UC. It wasn’t long before it was 3-1, with Kelly banging in another.

The Chichester goalie then proceeded to wipe out Diego Forlan (Barney) – FLICK were the screams. Yes, agreed the umpire. Ferrini stepped up, of course he scored. 4-1 became 5-1 with another Bond goal.

It wasn’t all over – Chichester pounced on some shocking defence to slot the ball past Baker, despite the behemoth of Bentley lying on the line to defend with his body. However, an increasingly frequent Fresher Nunn goal cancelled it out, and there was even time for Skipper Kelly to claim a hat trick (his form on the pitch is significantly better than his performances in the Loop).

Somewhat bewildered at their stunning display, UCL walked off the pitch to rapturous applause from the home fans. This was followed by much merriment during the team Indian meal, which gave the Freshers more opportunities (don’t say we’re not generous) to ‘curry’ favour (excuse the pun) with the Ladies 3s. El vino did flow, Bond got a cuddle.

Goals: Kelly x3, Bond x2, Ferrini (Flick), Nunn

The TX Squared Man of the Match award went to Chris Bentley, for being such a fat cat lad and taking out the opposition strikers. Next up for the mighty UC – everyone else. South Prem anyone?

UCL 1st XI sitting proudly at the top of the 1A table.

UCL 1st XI sitting proudly at the top of the 1A table.