Christmas sign off for KHC Mens 3rds
After a fortnight’s break the recent thaw allowed for a return to action down at North West Division 9 South. Knutsford Hockey Club 3rd team entertained promotion favourites Llandudno 2s and expected a tight, tough game and that is just what they got.
To be fair Llandudno started the brighter and were in possession of probably the 3 best players on show – quick, skilful & strong in the tackle they caused us problems all afternoon – and Knutsford were fortunate to be level after 15 minutes. Fortunate that is, to have welcomed Chris Howarth back to competitive hockey after a sabbatical of 22 years; if ever there was evidence of the sporting cliché “form is temporary, class is permanent” then Chris’s display proved the point.
Having last played when astro was grass, goalkeepers wore only gum shields & a packet of woodbines stuffed in their jockstraps, sticks were wood and men were men, Chris’s all round game was superb; the timing and execution of his tackles at left back especially were top drawer.
Unfortunately however Llandudno aren’t top of the league by accident, and by half time they were 3 – 0 up. Their speed around the D, and the quality of their finishing was the difference between the two sides. At half time our heroes changed from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 and were determined to give a good account of themselves. We did. Playing some inventive hockey through half backs Karl Stanier, Dave Rees & Sam Cunliffe and pushing target man Martin Baker deep onto old “Chopper” at the back Knutsford gained a foothold and didn’t relinquish it by attacking with width on both flanks.
The result was that their keeper was forced into making some good saves; he didn’t even see Baker’s scorching drive across goal and not for the first time Martin was an inch or two shy. Seconds later Ollie Berkin’s well saved slap to the top corner deserved better than simply the DOTD nomination from the admiring 1s.
Late in the game and with the field of play stretched Knutsford’s back line put in some last ditch, robust challenges and Matt Robbins demonstrated once again that KHC has great depth to its goalkeeping resources making a hatrick of saves that he simply had no right to.
Knutsford gave a committed and entertaining 2nd half of hockey and not many teams this season will keep a clean sheet for 35mins against them.
With the addition of the old boys to Knutsford 3s since the centenary game and their commitment to stick together as a unit in the 3s – makes us the most improved team in the division and furthermore it gives the U18s some structure and on occasions physical protection allowing them to develop and give it a bit of a flourish.
The last word has to go to BBC Radio 5 live who during gabby Logan’s Friday lunchtime sport predictions slot previewed Knutsford 3s Vs Llandudno 2s sandwiched between Newcastle Vs Liverpool and London Irish Vs Toulon!
The evidence is on the podcast! – See you on the 8th January at Runcorn.