Mens Hockey season opener
The season is finally underway, and after the opening fixture, Knutsford Mens 1st XI are only a solitary point short of the tally they achieved over the whole of last term.
A trip to Colwyn Bay couldn’t have been a more demanding first game. Whilst tradition has it that the seasiders don’t travel well, they are often unbeatable in their own country and the home side started strongly.
Knutsford, sporting a new 3-5-2 formation, looked anxious in the opening exchanges and the early goal (via a penalty corner) from the Welsh side could have triggered another crisis of confidence that inflicted such deep wounds last year. But Knutsford, a year older, a year wiser, stood firm. The experienced defence of Ed Higgs (later replaced by Graham Heath following an injury), Simon Locke and Johnny Price gave a confidence to the rest of the team to express themselves, and the English side began to dominate.
New signing Ollie Ruby could not have dreamed of a more perfect start to his season. Put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, the debutant coolly struck the equaliser. This tricky, pacy forward will be a valuable asset to Knutsford in this centenary season.
Knutsford were rampant, but the big question remained. Could they break the deadlock? It was the second half before the lead was finally taken. Steve Torrie (later yellow carded for dissent) and skipper Mathew Hodge combined well before the mercurial Dan Allen struck a serene shot, practically passing the ball into the net from 12 yards.
Colwyn Bay were not down and out however. Some slick passages of play were repelled by the defence and drew some superb saves from Knutsford’s number 1 for the season, Jay Punshon. A display that yielded a well deserved man of match performance after many seasons in the shadow of veteran Simon McCoy.
Midfield enforcer Stuart Kenyon and player-coach Simon Trenbrith were by this time stamping their authority on the game. It was Trenbrith who was architect of Knutsford’s 3rd goal. His long aerial ball found the inspiring Mike Power who timed his run to perfection and slotted past the exasperated goalkeeper to the delight of the small travelling contingent.
With only 5 minutes left, a comfortable win looked likely but a lackadaisical approach at the restart resulted in an immediate repost from Colwyn Bay. Last season, a capitulation would have ensued but this year it looks like a transformed team, able to cope with setbacks.
A great start for the season for the Player-coach who admired the persistence of his players but stated that this was only the beginning. “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.“ he stated before somewhat cryptically adding “It’s a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired you quit when the gorilla is tired.“
Knutsford have a home fixture on Saturday against Bebington at the Leisure Centre (2.15.start).
Colwyn Bay 2 – Knutsford 3