Going into the 4th game of the season having won the previous three games, Clifton Robinsons Men’s 1s were confidently hoping for another strong result. Welcoming Exeter University 2s, the game started well for the home side. A strong attack from the forward line early in the game saw our resident front man, Nick Robilliard in front of goal. Wearing the defenders dodgy tackle saw a penalty stroke being awarded, giving the home side an early opportunity to get ahead. Mike MacDowell confidently stepped up, successfully sending the keeper the wrong way to power the ball home in the bottom left corner. This continued a strong record for the big man Mike, having never missed a competitive penalty flick in his long-playing career.

Both teams had chances leading up to the half, with Clifton narrowly missing changes from a forehand strike from Oli King and a backhand effort from Micah Smithard. However, Exeter continued to keep a clean streak despite the opposing pressure showing a display of last ditch, hard-to-beat defending. The warmth of the sunny Sunday drew in and the game was brought to a well-timed half time with Clifton leading 1-0.

The second half saw both teams step up the pace. Despite chances each way, a well worked play saw Exeter awarded a penalty corner from a Clifton foot. Despite the pace of our lightning 1st runner, Tom Appleby, a slip left from the top and flick narrowly past the left foot of Andrew Hughes saw Exeter draw level with much more excitement to come. Tackles from both sides saw green cards from the umpires, with the tension and intensity continuing to creep up.

The last quarter started quickly after some firm words of encouragement from the Clifton’s level-headed coach, with Exeter quickly winning a free hit outside the 25. Facing up, Toby Rowlings wore a hard hit to the back of the head and unfortunately went down in significant pain. The game was paused for roughly 20 minutes whilst medical treatment was administered, with the casualty being walked off and taken to hospital for further examination. Both teams carried out a brief ball warmup before restarting the final 10 minutes of hockey for what was going to be an exciting finish.

Clifton managed to break away and in the opposite D, a scramble saw Nick Robilliard pick up the scraps and turn to get a shot away in an attempt at goal. A proactive Micah Smithard appeared at the far post to tap in Nick’s effort that was seemingly heading wide. As the crowd cheered for the ‘dynamic duo’, CRHC took the lead with only minutes remaining to sit ahead at 2-1. However, the lead was short lived and another well worked attack and deflection by Exeter saw a counter attack goal to square the game at 2-2 with only seconds remaining.

The game drew to a close at 2-2, which continued an unbeaten start to Clifton Robinsons Men’s National League campaign.

Nick Robilliard

Alex Kirkpatrick

Probably on the physio table