The big question for the Men’s 4s after this thrilling 3-3 draw against Hampstead and Westminster Thirsts was: “What the hell did Stiller have for breakfast?” Raw meat alone, in the opinion of this correspondent, as our doughty centre back ranted and rampaged around the Linford Christie belting out advice to teammates. After the opposition scored one of their goals, Stiller smashed his hockey stick on the ground like a demented Basil Fawlty thrashing his car with a branch.
To be sure, it was good to see plenty of passion in Stiller and the team for this, the first match after Christmas. In the past, a surfeit of Christmas pud and fine claret tended to make for sluggish performances after the New Year, but the boys were generally sharp and composed against a decent team that beat us 3-1 last year.
We did, however, struggle with our shape and passing in the first quarter, and paid for it when Thirsts scored their first goal. Tackling their centre forward proved a tricky proposition, and he dribbled through a pile of blue shirts to slot past Louis.
Marshalled by our adroit skipper Rupert, Chiswick picked themselves up and picked up their game. The snappy passing, give and go, and running off the ball that characterises this team when it’s playing at its best came to the fore, and Phil Schartau rounded off a sweet move down the right to make it all square. Chris had the assist with some lovely skills around the D.
Chiswick’s defence had a more familiar look, with Ben back from injury, Lego and Stiller in the centre, and Tom on the left. Between the sticks, Louis had a fine match, surging off his line several times during the second half to keep us in the game. Louis has the priceless goalkeeper’s ability to instill confidence to his defenders, being encouraging when we do well, and making sure we’re well positioned to deal with threatening attacks.
Phil and Rupert were rapid fire in midfield, ably supported by Rory, who raised no more than a quizzical eyebrow when asked to play centre mid. Nick Woon was his usual larger than life presence in midfield and further forward, and proved hard to stop once on a roll. Consistent subbing in midfield and up front kept the team fresh, and it was Chiswick who took the lead in the second half. After Blobby had nearly removed Will’s head with a bazooka in the first, he made no mistake from a short corner, smashing the ball past an unmoving defence to put Chiswick ahead.
It was no more than we deserved. With Chris Brinkworth poached by the Men’s 3s, Blobby led the line ‘con gusto,’ alongside Nick, Will, Chris and DY. DY especially had a terrific game on the right. In contrast to Stiller’s bellicosity, DY had drunk deeply from the cup of peace during the holidays, as it was all serenity and love from the ‘Ipswich lip,’ and he let his hockey do the talking. It was DY who delivered the assist for our third goal. His cross from the right created a melée in the Thirsts D and the ball bobbled into the opposition goal from Chris Wiggins
That put Chiswick- back_in the lead again, after Thirsts scored from a flick to make it all square after a period of concerted pressure and several short corners. Louis had already saved our bacon but this time he was stranded and DY, the last line of defence, made a goaline clearance….. with his feet.
Any dreams Chiswick had of a win were snuffed out after Thirsts scored their third goal, heralding a frantic last five minutes as both teams searched for the win. In truth, a draw was probably a fair result, and the team should be pleased with a point. In patches Chiswick 4s played some sensational hockey and if we can keep up our highest standards throughout a whole match, we will – without doubt – end this season near the top of this league.
MoM: Louis - A number of terrific saves
DoD: Will - Not knowing the formation and where to play in the 1st half