Men’s 2nd XI Plate Final Match Report
Banbury Mens 2nd XI returned to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Monday 1st May as defending champions of the England Hockey Men’s 2nd XI Trophy, facing Belper.
After last year’s final in which Banbury saw themselves go down 3-0 before half time, the holders knew it was important to make a strong start to the game, However, a defensive slip nearly gifted Belper the lead inside the first 20 seconds, a stray pass finding its way to the Belper forward leaving him clear through on the Banbury goal, only to be spared by the shot firing wide. This served as a wake up call and Banbury began to take the game to their opposition, Max Grossmith threatened to open the scoring but his snap shot flew over the cross bar. Minutes later Ian Reynolds put the ball into the back of the Belper net, but not before the umpire had blown his whistle to award Banbury a short corner, so to Banbury’s frustration the goal did not stand. This stroke of misfortune was further compounded, Belper breaking into Banbury’s D and winning a short corner that was hammered home to give them the lead. Midway through the half Reynolds looked to have scored again, only for the ball to be stopped on the line by a defenders body, veteran striker Dave Clark though was on hand to fire the rebound into the goal this time before a whistle sounded, to put Banbury back on level terms. Throughout the remainder of the first half Banbury had a number of chances to seize the advantage, but could not make them count.
The second half continued where the first half left off, Banbury controlling the majority of possession and winning numerous short corners, but were again unable to capitalise on these. It was in the last 15 minutes of the game that things began to heat up, first Belper picked up a yellow card due to a deliberate foul, Banbury’s Harry Camp then picked up a green card for coming through the back of a Belper forward. In Banbury’s next attacking phase Harry Simons looked to be clean through only to be brought down by a diving challenge by his opposite man who was initially awarded a 10 minute yellow card which was then upped to a red card after an altercation with the third official, meaning Banbury would have a one man advantage for the remainder of the game. For a brief period the game seemed to calm down, but with four minutes to play madness ensued, first Adrian Simons received a yellow card meaning he would sit down for the remainder of the game, clumsy and panicked defending from Banbury resulted in Belper being awarded consecutive short corners, meaning Banbury looked to be on the verge of defeat in a game that they had largely dominated. Solid defending from Rhys Potter and Ian Reynolds kept Banbury’s hopes alive, clearing the ball on both occasions. With seconds left to play Banbury were awarded a short corner, giving them a last chance to win the game in normal time, despite being two further re-awards Banbury couldn’t find the net and the final whistle blew with the sides locked at 1-1 with the game to be settled by penalty shuffles.
Banbury went first, Adrian Simons rounding the keeper and finishing well on his reverse stick, Belper responded with an almost mirror image shuffle levelling things at 1-1. Max Grossmith stepped up next for Banbury, rounding the keeper but could only find the side of the goal. A miss from Belpers next shuffle kept the teams level. Dave Clark put Banbury 2-1 ahead, wrong footing the goal keeper to roll the ball into the middle of the goal, Belper responded with a swift turn and shot. Next up for Banbury was Tyson Nunneley, lifting spinning and lifting the ball over his opponent, Banbury Keeper Jamie Lamb made a crucial save on the following shuffle keeping the score at 3-2. This meant that as Louis Yates stepped up for Banbury’s final attempt they knew a goal would seal the win, Yates held his nerve, spinning to his right and then to his left and finding the back board with his reverse stick.