Match Report: Spencer (0) 1 Barnes Beavers (1) 2
By Dave Williams
Buoyant Beavers Bounce Back In Battersea
February 16th has proved to be a red-letter day for various ‘Spencers’ over the years – not least when Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington became Prime Minister in 1742 and also a century later when Spencer Compton Cavendish, Marquess of Hartingdon became Secretary of State for War in 1866. So in keeping with the spirit of times past Spencer Hockey Club were no doubt hoping to complete what would be a fine historical hat-trick with a win against the Barnes Beavers in Battersea Park on Saturday afternoon. Thinking about it the Earl of Wilmington and the Marquess of Hartingdon both sound like they should be a couple of decent Battersea pubs!
We had already recorded two good victories over Spencer this season (one friendly and the other in the league) but expected a hard fought and close game. However at half time it was fair to say that while we were leading 1-0 we were disappointed not to be further ahead. Barnes dominated the first half and we created a significant number of chances, most of which were stopped by the excellent Spencer keeper. Keith had two short corner shots blocked by defenders, one of which was pushed clear off the line and Tom then forced the keeper into a decent save and minutes later gave a great pass to put Ollie through on goal but again their keeper rushed out to make a good blocking tackle and he later made further saves from both Chris and Amine. The only brief moment of alarm at the other end was when James was called into saving a Spencer short corner shot but shortly before the interval we eventually took a well-deserved lead when Tom’s neat pass went to Amine who slid in with a diving effort into the goal.
The second half was an entirely different kettle of fish. We had a couple of early chances to double our lead with Tom keeping things interesting by pushing a shot wide from an open goal from just a couple of yards out and Bussey had a good shot saved. However Spencer were starting to play their way back into the game and James was soon forced into making a couple of saves of his own before a clever piece of skill on the edge on our D allowed Spencer a free shot which was smacked into our goal. Suddenly, from being so dominant we were facing the possibility of coming away with nothing and the equaliser stirred the Beavers back into action. We won a series of short corners and several goalmouth scrambles were forced away with Chris again coming close to scoring but Spencer’s defiance was finally broken just 10 minutes before the end when a loose ball came to Keith at the top of the D and his powerful shot deflected past the Spencer keeper and defenders and into the goal – his first ever goal from open play! There was still time for a bit more drama with James having to make a hurried clearance from a dangerous cross and Amine again being denied by their keeper. It was with no little relief that we soon heard the final whistle being blown.
So a good win for the Beavers, one which was fully deserved from the first half performance alone although in the end we just did enough to secure the win. Following the victory Barnes remain in 8th place in SOHL Division 2 while Spencer stay in 9th position, just one point and two places above the relegation zone. With just five games remaining this season the Beavers have an interesting run-in – we have still to play three of the top four sides as well as two of the bottom three and next weekend is a home game against third placed Leatherhead. Beaver of the week this week goes to Mike Bussey who has been in a great run of form as right half in the last few weeks and who worked well with Alex on the right flank to create a number of chances throughout the game. Congratulations Mike!