5 Goals against a 4th XI to earn 3 points over 2 halves for first win of 2019.
By Ian Dunnett
Hertford Men’s 1st team put in a much improved performance in comparison to recent weeks, running out 5-2 winners against Wapping 4ths at the Simon Balle ground on Saturday, with goals from Scott Apps and Darren Norman.
Player-coach Nick Downer was absent, giving Alec Short his 2nd appearance of the season, with Archie Akers coming in up front for Ben van Rooyen.
The hosts were determined to keep the ball and build their opportunities, which gave a more controlled feel to the rhythm of the game, but they were fortunate not to go behind when a cross from the right was deflected off the post by diving forward, and then a short corner came back off the upright after a switched routine.
As has been customary, it was the set piece mastery of Scott Apps which broke the deadlock. Having won the penalty corner himself after some quick stick-work not he right of the circle, he unleashed a hard and low drag-flick beating the keeper and the man on the line for pace.
The lead was doubled barely five minutes later from another penalty corner. Short earned it after forcing a defender to play the ball over the back line, and Apps obliged once more, this time a more aesthetically pleasing finish, up into the net despite Wapping’s keeper getting a touch.
It could have been three shortly afterwards, when Apps received the ball with his back to goal, and prodded a pass to Arthur Twyning barely 5 yards out, but somehow a recovering defender got back and picked Twyning's flicked shot out of the air, with the keeper stricken.
Hertford had to hold off some pressure before half time as the visitors sought a way back into the game, but Tom Smith was found in fine fettle in the Hertford goal, getting good distance on his clearances.
As was a theme for the match, Simon Halfacre snuffed out an opportunity with a well timed flat stick when Wapping tried to work their way into the circle from a long corner, releasing the ball to the left flank where Hertford could spring a fast break. Norman showed a clean pair of heels to his marker and fed a ball into Twyning on the top of the D. Twyning beat the last defender, drawing the keeper off his line, and selflessly squared for Norman, who had continued his run, for an easy finish, taking him in to double-figures for the season, as the first half ended 3-0.
Hertford started the second period well, showing confidence on the ball, frustrating their opposition, as Wapping started to be drawn in to some questionable challenges. Twyning and James Rollins came in for some particularly unfavourable treatment as their pace and skill saw them floored on several occasions.
The next time Twyning was able to evade the melee of sticks around his ankles, Hertford scored again. Apps led towards the ball, span his marker and fed Twyning down the line. the Teenager teased the defenders, juggling the ball and beating them for pace. Once again Norman had kept pace with the run and Twyning set him again with a pin point pass, for Norman to tap in.
The elusive clean sheet wasn't to be for Hertford. Their work-rate was taking its toll as the game become more stretched and less controlled in the final 15 minutes, and with some tired tackles going in they had to defend a succession of penalty corners. Wapping got on the scoresheet from a routine with the injection going to a man on the left of the circle, with a speculative ball slung into the goalmounth somehow squeezing under the leg-pad of Smith and squirming over the line.
Irked by conceding in such soft fashion, Hertford pressed again. Rollins drew a defender into very clumsy challenge inside the 23, with Apps completing a hat-trick of drag-flicks from the subsequent penalty corner to reestablish the four-goal advantage.
Despite the margin, Wapping weren't playing like a beaten team, continuing to make a contest of things. They got a second late on from another penalty corner, won by a questionably raised ball into the knee of Ben Tootell. The first effort was parried by Smith, but the rebound fell kindly for the striker to flick into the net.
Hertford held on for the remaining moments to win 5-2, keeping them third in Division 2S. This weekend they will be looking to keep up a similar level of performance as they travel to Bedford for a crucial match against the team just one place above them in the table.
Hertford - Tom Smith; Elliot Barling, Jamie O’Sullivan, Simon Halfacre, Taylor Weeks; Ian Dunnett, Adrian Fileczki, James Rollins; Darren Norman, Scott Apps, Arthur Twyning. Subs - Ben Tootell, Alec Short, Archie Akers.