The scene was set for a big Friday night clash between Clifton Robinsons Mens 1’s and Cheltenham Hockey Club. Playing an unusual Friday night game meant that the atmosphere was at fever-pitch in the build up to the game. With Kinger SNR blasting some questionable tunes, the crowd continued to grow. Excitement and a buzz in the air, both teams finished their warm ups and lined up for 2 minutes of silence in aid of Armistice Day.
Push back saw an intense first 15 minutes, with a high pace and exciting display of hockey. Clifton were able to find some chances with both Nick Robilliard and Oli King finding themselves in front of goal after creative balls through, but neither were able to find the goal. The chances continued to come throughout the first half, with William Springett narrowly missing the post with a shot on the turn in the D, and Jake Rowe was denied by a keeper on his game. Despite a flurry of Corners, the Cheltenham keeper managed to continue to deny a goal for Clifton Robinsons throughout the first half, which ended at 0-0.
The second half resumed fast after some well needed firm words of encouragement and PG profanity from the coach, ‘Mr Biceps’ Fraser Henderson, but it was not long until Clifton found themselves under a relentless aerial threat. One ball over the top found its way through to an attacker in the D, and a push pass past Andy Hughes’s bright orange kicker to take a 0-1 lead. Intense pace and hunting saw many turnovers, which suddenly saw Clifton have a free hit outside the D. Quick thinking from the VC, Conor Pinnell, saw a clever drive towards the D and a ball to Micah Smithard on the penalty spot for a deflection. GOAL! Cheltenham were stunned, and claiming the ball had not travelled 5 before entering the D they were clearly getting their units mixed up with yards. 1-1.
The pressure continued to switch between the teams; a real game of chess. Clifton started to dominate the pitch and with some skillful play in the D from Conor Pinnell, a penalty stroke was awarded. Mike MacDowell stepped up to take the flick, with full confidence in his ability backed by the team and the crowd. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite the streak of penalty flick goals, Mike was unable to convert in a heart-breaking moment that saw the ball whistle past the post. The game remained 1-1 with 15 minutes to play.
With the final 10 minutes to play, and Clifton having dominated the game with possession and chances, Cheltenham had a breakaway play. With scrappy hockey and deflected passes a ball somehow ended up in the home D with a Cheltenham forward on the end. A nice bit of skill and reverse stick shot saw the ball fly into the home net causing a 2-1 upset. Clifton would not return from this, despite the grit and determination and the game ended a loss. The boys have one more league game this side of Christmas, and will be back stronger for it. We go again!