The 2's went into this game on the back of a disappointing loss against Stirling with a hint of trepidation. Grove 2's playing well in the league above us didn't make for encouraging reading. The pre-match chat centered around improving on weakness's exploited by Stirling; increasing tactical awareness in various situations and maintaining focus in tougher periods of the game.
First half. Grove dominated possession with some early pressure without ever really threatening our goal. The organisation and concentration of both midfield and defense ensuring they struggled to create anything. Up front the press was leaving a lot to be desired, but the forwards were looking dangerous on the counter. The 2's first real opportunity arose when yours truly drove down the left wing crossed to RDB who had almost an open goal to aim for. Alas it wasn't to be as a rogue bobble (blag) took the ball away from him. At this point the 2's were beginning to realise that this game was winnable and were growing in stature as the game progressed. The rest of the first half passed largely without note, the defense putting in a shift to clear a few short corners.
Half time. At this point it had sunk in for everyone that we were actually okay at hockey and could get a shock win with the right attitude. There was a doomed attempt to sort out the press, and an emphasis on getting outcomes when attacking.
Second half. The 2's start well, Niklas and Ruben having shots saved by the keeper. Cairns then slotted a loose ball home, only for the umpire to pull it back to give us a short for an infringement seconds before. Infuriating. At this point the 2's were fully fired up, winning 50/50's and playing some nice hockey. As was commented by the Grove captain about his own players " I can't believe how soft these lads are". They don't call us the hardest team in the Scottish regional plate for no reason. The game was there for the taking, and what was required was cool heads and calm and collected hockey. A perfect time then for myself to misjudge a 50/50 with the keeper and end up sliding right into him. An infuriatingly stupid error on my part resulting in a 10 minute sin bin. Apologies to all. With the 2's down to 10 men the dynamics of the game changed, Grove trying to make the most of the numerical advantage. Try as they may though they came up against a brick wall again and again, with everyone putting in a huge shift to keep them out. The 2's go back up to a full complement and the game is getting fraught with both teams chasing a winner. After a small spell of Grove pressure in our 25 Niklas saunters through a couple of boys on our 25 and plays a delicious through ball to myself. Sprinting towards their goal I notice out the corner of my eye Sam bombing it to back post. The ball is slipped back post and he dives in with all the majesty of a wheelie bin being knocked over in a strong breeze, slotting it in as he goes. The 2's are 1-0 up with 8 mins to go. Huge. All the talk was of seeing this one out and playing smart fort the last few, however it was not to be as they equalised through a grubby short corner 2 mins later. We would not be brought down though, and RDB pulled out an unreal turn, beating the keeper and slotting home. But wait, its been disallowed, again. For what I'm still not entirely sure, but that's the game finished at 1-1.
"Flicks are such a useless skill, why are we practicing them" - Ben Dunwoody -19/10/2017.
The possibility of this outcome had been discussed, but tbh no-one really saw it happening. Fools. The 5 were chosen.
RDB, Blair, Charlie, Sam, Niklas all backing themselves.
We win the coin toss and RDB steps up and flicks top left beautifully but their lad scores as well.
2's 1-1 Grove.
Blaz waddles up to the spot and for his moment in the spotlight. He dribbles it bottom left, but their keeper is so astounded by how bad it was he forgets to dive and it rolls in. Sean then saves the Grove flick:
2's 2 - 1 Grove.
Charlie and Sam then proceed to take some less elegant flicks which are unfortunately saved. Blushes were saved though as their Grove counterparts both fail, with 1 miss and 1 save;
2's 2-1 Grove.
Up steps Niklas with the burden of knowledge that if he scores the 2's have won. The stakes are high but thankfully Germans are immune to pressure, and famously good at penalties. He steps up, scores, and the celebrations commence. The 2's have won and are through to the semi finals.
One of my favourite wins in my time at GUMHC, although it is an admittedly small sample size. Well done to all that played, everyone can walk off the pitch with their heads held high, effort was excellent all game. Many things to improve before Wednesday, onwards and upwards.
Scorer: Sam OH
MOTM: Sean Mahoney
Donkey: Seb C