The Beavers continue their winning away streak...
By Dan Sowden
Trinity Mid-Whitgiftians (0) 2 - Barnes Beavers (3) 5
2019 has been a good year for the Barnes Beavers on the road - having gone 3 for 3 wins in away games through January and February. This week saw us travelling away to Warlingham School - a journey that would take some of us (on public transport) more time to get there than the actual match for which we were travelling. The 2nd March has also been an historic day for travellers - as 50 years before, the Concorde plane took to the air on its inaugural flight. Whilst on that day the plane didn't get up to full speed, it flew like a bird for almost half an hour - and in the present day the Barnes Beavers were looking to take off in Warlingham for a full 70 minutes against the Trinity Mid-Whitgiftians.
This week saw us take 14 players to the Croydon fixture - and with Trinity generously providing both umpires, we looked well placed to carry on our away domination against a team who we beat 6-1 in the first half of the season. The tactics for this week were fairly simple - to just try to play like we did last week. So from the first whistle we pushed hard and forced the Mid-Whits team into their own half, linking up well and pressuring the team from the off.
Although it took slightly longer to get off the mark than last week, we had several good efforts early on - and eventually we were awarded a few short corners and it was Joe who opened up the scoring. Receiving the ball just outside the left post, it was a scrappy effort that looked like it was going to slip past but it eventually found its way into the goal. It wasn't long after this that Joe managed to get his name on the score sheet again - with an effort a little like Rory's second goal last week - receiving a long ball from a 16 up the left hand side, which he took nicely past the defence and pushed it calmly into the goal to put us two ahead.
The Beavers continued to pressure the Old Whits team through the half, containing all attacks well and ensuring that Big Kev in goal was rarely called upon to get involved - with Alex, Pat, Peps and myself neutralising everything very well. There were a few more good efforts across the front from Rory, Angus and Pops, some good breaks along the right with Alex and Bussey linking up very well - but our third goal came after the ball was played to Pops in the D from the left, who had a strong effort blocked by the keeper and the follow-up effort came in the form of a sweeping reverse stick effort from Tom Graham to see the ball nicely into the goal. The final five minutes of the first half became a bit more scrappy as the home team took exception to a few strong Beaver tackles, and the umpires had to call for calm - and the rest of the half played out with no further major incidents.
The second half wasn't quite as strong for the Beavers, although we continued to dominate large portions of play through the half. The home team seemed to rearrange their team a little, and with a stronger midfield they pushed towards our D more through the half, although we also continued to pressure them as effectively as we had the first half. The opening goal of this half came courtesy of a Trinity short corner - and possibly their only clean shot made in the half dozen short corners they were awarded in this half. The ball was well placed into the bottom right corner of the goal, and it brought the home team back to within two goals of us. We replied with a strong offensive movement - pushing deep into the Trinity half and we were awarded a few short corners of our own. We've seen through the years that if you give Keith the ball at the top of the D, he will eventually score - and on his second effort in the half he did - a textbook smash into the bottom right corner.
As both teams tired, the game went much more end-to-end, and there were definitely more goals to be had from the match. The next one was another scrappy affair where the Trinity keeper made a good save, but was unable to stop the follow-up from Olly, who neatly finished up with our fifth goal. It wasn't long after this that he looked to score again, after a Trinity defender deflected a ball high into the air from the top of the D, Olly flew in (and he literally seemed to fly), with a downward head-height smash into the goal. Although the sequence of events felt a little dangerous, post-match discussions were unable to quite place where the danger was. The Trinity umpire seemed much more comfortable working it out though, as he blew for a Beaver infringement and the play continued. There was one final twist in the game, which came courtesy of a late goal for the Mid-Whitgiftian team (and unfortunately I wasn't looking at the time, so I can't actually add any more detail than this). We continued to play hard though, and the final whistle went after a short corner was awarded to the home team. The ball was injected, stopped, blocked by Pat, and then finally shepherded out over the back line to see us continue our away streak with a 5-2 win.
Another great game from the Beavers, with everyone playing their part well once again. Several players put in a good pitch for the Beaver of the Week accolade this week, and there are notable mentions for James for filling in outfield (despite losing his stick on the journey to the game), to Joe for putting in a brilliant performance down the left side (and scoring our opening two goals), but this week it goes to Alex for putting in another phenomenal shift on the right hand side, somehow being at both ends of the pitch at all times - well done Alex!
The result sees us up one place to sixth - our highest position so far this season, with just three games left to go.