Beavers rock league leaders at damp Fortress Shene School
By Dan Sowden
Barnes Beavers (1) 1 - Old Kingstonians (1) 1
(Match report by Tom Speller)
Another Saturday, another run out for the Beavers, and 1st December can probably most famously (in recent history at least) be remembered as the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, providing a flashpoint in the US Civil Rights Movement. There isn't really an appropriate lead-in to the game, however, as I feel humour would probably belittle the historical significance of that moment.
A grey morning, and despite two of the youngest members of the squad considering pulling out when the weather looked grim, they played. An unfortunate Saturday morning "illness" had ruled out one Beaver, however, so we were slightly short of the promised squad but had good numbers, which would be required given the oppo's league-leading record of W8 D1 heading into the game.
Skipper Pat moved up into midfield for the game playing in the centre with Chris and Will who passed well throughout, and while both sides played a lot of attacking hockey, Barnes could have been in an early lead. Amine rifled a quick ball up to Pops who unfortunately slipped at the crucial moment, but after some more great play from Amine the Beavers had a short corner. Slight paralysis ensued when no one backed themselves to inject, but Kaz suddenly remembered it's often his job. So back it went to Chris, who with usual precision sent the ball towards the bottom right corner, but it was denied by an inconveniently placed foot. Bussey wasn't quite sure of the angle but the Old Kingstonian umpire immediately gave a penalty flick. Kaz politely declined the opportunity, so with a change of direction from the corner but no less speed, Chris put it top left. 1-0 up against the league leaders and immediately after the restart Amine was causing problems again. Barnes were camped in the opposition 23 as he dribbled past a few, then shot/passed/chipped (delete as appropriate Bussey) the ball goalwards which Tom S cricketed into the net. Despite protest from the Kingstonian keeper and defenders, both umpires initially gave the goal, before a conference ruled it out for a "dangerous" lift from Amine, oh well.
The rest of the half was end to end, with Alex in acres of space on the right, and Pat charging forward while Dai and Dean kept the defence steady, all as usual. Somewhat against the run of play, however, Kingstonians won a short corner. Brilliantly deflected by an onrushing Beaver (cruelly not a featured species in the current Attenborough series) the ball was heading harmlessly behind until their player appeared out of nowhere to prod home at the far post. 1-1 at half time and change of umpire, as Amine and Bussey swapped on the right wing.
In the second half the youthful pair of Tom G and Nick really made a difference, as with more experienced legs tiring, Nick was able to do some excellent work keeping the play in the Kingstonian half of the pitch while Tom G irritated several opponents by dribbling straight through them. All good things must come to an end, and so with about ten minutes gone in the second half Dan's cardless season was abruptly halted by a terse verbal exchange, and while Amine was perhaps reluctant to send him, their umpire correctly had no such fear. It was only a green though and thankfully we didn't concede a goal in his two minutes of quiet reflection. From this point on several attacking chances were squandered, principally by Tom S who steered a half-volley just over the bar on a reverse shot and more criminally, struggled to fully control an incisive through ball from Pat. Barnes had other chances with Alex and Bussey overlapping well on the right, while Pops was blocked by defenders and their impressive keeper despite good service from the midfield of Chris and Will.
JP was equal to everything that had come his way in the second half, marshalling defenders into their necessary positions and keeping out their short corners and shots with ease. In the final minutes though the Barnes defence was tired and a short corner was conceded. The clock went red and the final whistle was blown as everyone lined up, so the whole Kingstonian team surrounded the D, presenting a serious threat to the Beaver Dam. Injection, shot, deflection, relief! The Beavers play away to Old Crans next week so the unbeaten home record will be carried into the Christmas break, well played all!
For a half each of excellent play and officiating, BotW is Amine!