Having hit the top of the league a couple of weeks ago, the match against Croydon and Old Whitgiftians 2nd XI was a first against second encounter to add to the derby tension to the match. With a game in hand for Croydon, a win for the Mids was key to continuing to lead the league. Following on from a 6-0 the previous week vs. Woking, the Mids’ focus was to continue the style of hockey which had proved successful in prior matches and to prepare for the intensity which we knew would come from a Croydon side.
The first half was a scrappy affair for both sides with neither hockey team seizing the upper hand. A high press from Croydon put pressure on the Mids defence from 16s and lead to a lot of the play taking place in the middle of the pitch with left and right back exits being closed down. However this allowed direct channels to be exploited through midfield and putting the opposition on the back foot. While Croydon had an even amount of the ball, most of their play was broken down by a strong defence nullifying their efforts. With some periods of good passing and offensive running penetrating the Croydon defence, it was lack of clinical finishing and some good goalkeeping which stopped Trinity Mids going into the break with a goal. Several times a simple stick at the back post would have made a massive difference.
The half time chat focused on building on the positives but putting more effort into the 50-50 challenges, ensuring that we kept hold of the ball and being clinical in front of goal. From the second half whistle, the Mids continued their passing play and kept running at the Croydon defence. More dynamic team play in front of goal found the back of the goal with Christian Bond passing to Andy Barnes hit past the keeper.
With a one-nil scoreline, the Mids’ lead felt fragile. A rare attack which penetrated the TMW’s defence saw a key double save from Cam Lagerberg at the back post, with the last stick save defying belief. It was a turning point to the game. Had the scoreline been evened, the balance of the match would have swung against us but securing goal advantage scoring a second a few minutes later began to put the win mentally out of reach for Croydon. Goal number two came from a penalty corner, with a somewhat slower drag flick from Johann Perera bamboozling the goalkeeper into gloving the ball straight downwards onto the line for Eugene Carr to race onto and tap over the goaline.
Croydon continued battling away and while time was running out, managed to scramble a goal past the Mids keeper, slotting the ball low into the bottom right corner. At 2-1, the final few minutes were tense with TMW Hockey trying to keep the ball in the opposition’s half and out of danger as the clock ran down.
At the final whistle, the TMWs were relieved with the win but had enjoyed a testing but enjoyable game against their local rivals played in good spirits. While it wasn’t the perfect execution of the team’s playing style, it was encouraging to grind out a win against a strong opposition by playing a a good standard of hockey.