New Piranhas excel in shallow water

Banbury Piranhas – 2  Tring 2’s – 1

The season started in earnest on Saturday for the Piranhas with our 1st league match against Tring 2nds who were relegated last year from a tight division 6 last year….. so we knew that we would be in for a tough game. To motivate the team, Captain Allman replaced the previous team awards “Golden Balls” and “Mr Pants” instigated by Campy with some new upgraded after-match voting awards of “King Piranha” and “Wet Fish”…..little did we know that it was a bit of a premonition……

The Piranhas duly turned up in good time for their match with the sun shining – but for reasons un-known (I do request a Spanish Inquisition)….the teams before us had managed to introduce a 30 min delay into the proceedings and the previous push back time of 3:30, was now more like 4pm. By the time 4pm came, the beautiful sunshine had long since disappeared and was replaced with a huge down pour of biblical proportions which started exactly when the whistle blew to start the game. The “King Piranhas” were all turned into “Wet Fish” within 5 mins, with the Banbury Club shirt akin to more of a wet suit….. Both Gary White and Lee Allen declared fashion disasters and were not happy at all with the clingy profile that the club shirt gave them !

The Piranhas had the luxury of a 15 player squad this week, but was a nice mix of new and old…. with three young Piranha players (Zach Boynton, Jamal Mourssali and Ben Reville) all making their debut. Although the rain was coming down in stair rods, the Piranhas moved the ball around the pitch very effectively dominating possession with great midfield play by Sam Baldry , Thomas Allman , Matt Bull and John Townsend linking through to Stuart Ralph and Lee Allen up front. For the first 20 mins it was just the final ball and finish which stopped the Piranhas going ahead.

With the rain still belting down, the Piranhas rotated their squad with debutants Zach Boynton , Jamal and Ben, coming into Midfield and attack.  The one exception to this was Clive “Noah” Bryant who stood on the side line with his brolly (very McLaren-esk) refusing to come on until he had commanded to the rain to stop.

Although the Piranhas continued to have the lions share of possession with great energy and play from the debutants, Tring started to create more chances and despite resolute defending of Allman, White , McEvoy and Bailey, the opposition did have a few good chances to score but were well kept out by new Banbury Keeper Henry White who made crucial saves at the end of the 1st half to keep the scores level.

With 10 mins of the 1st half left, Banbury converted a nicely worked short corner when injector Matt Bull ghosted up to the left hand post and deflect in from a Townsend strike. The teams then retired to their respective dug outs as the half time time whistle blew. Instantly the rain stopped, the sun came out and Clive stripped off ready to come on for the 2nd half , but only after releasing a couple of white dove’s to find land.

The 2nd half saw the Piranhas playing some sublime hockey moving the ball around the opposition finding space with pass and move Hockey, creating a string of chances and penalty corners. After a few missed opportunities, Banbury moved the ball deftly from from right to left, through both defence and midfield onto Sam Baldry, who beat one player, passed to Thomas Allman top D who quickly moved the ball to Lee Allen who for once used his stick instead of a banjo, deftly slapping in from the P spot to go 2 up !

The Piranhas continued to move the ball well (aided by our Centre Back Gary White also doubling as centre forward) and crafted more chances but could not put the game to bed with Matt Bull hitting the post and half chances going astray for Ben and Jamal who were causing chaos with the Tring defence.

With 15 mins left, Tring committed more players into attack and were piling on the pressure. The Banbury defence led a charmed life with Keeper Henry White making multiple saves including saving a stroke. Bull Dozer Bailey and Super Clive managed to keep clear the D from anything that entered the danger zone (even legally sometimes) with great support from Zach and Finlay at right & left back. Tring eventually pulled one back in the last 5 mins put Banbury calmed things down to see out the win.

The teams retired back to the club house still thoroughly drenched knowing the showers were not operational, but on the plus side looking forward to a change of caterers as The Allman Road Kill Cafe and been replaced by Karens Cauldron.  The Chilli went down extremely well whilst the teams voted for “King Piranha” and “Wet Fish”.

Our new Keeper Henry White picked up “King Piranha”. Stuart unluckily picked up the “Wet Fish” Award but mainly for forgetting everyones name.

The Piranhas are away at West Hampstead next week which will be equally as tough, but very pleased with the team performance especially from youngsters.