Berkhamsted V 1 - 3 Hertford VI
A little frost never hurt anybody....
Two largely veteran sides were determined to play despite an early start on a frosty pitch, and were rewarded with a lively and free flowing game on a pitch that was hard and fast but safe underfoot and not too bobbly.
With Dave Harding, Steve, Jon Durbin, Tom and Graham White returning, we were close to our strongest side and created pressure and chances right from the start. Jon, Aidan and Ewan moved the ball smartly up the right. Graham, Tom and I exchanged passes freely up the left, though many of the best chances came from route one moves down the middle, Dave and Daryl constantly threatening a slowish Berko defence. Ewan finished a well-constructed move to give us the lead on 10 minutes, but we failed to build on it. Berko left players up and regularly bypassed midfield to catch our back line understaffed. We got away with a few scares, but were mugged again just before half time, Andy saving well from the first shot but unable to reach the follow up.
That woke us up. Straight after the break we moved the ball rapidly up the right in four or five passes from our own 16, and got Daryl behind their defence for a spectacular finish to restore our lead. 10 minutes later Tom caught hold of a cross from Daryl on the far post to stretch it to 3 – 1.
Berko pressed us hard for a long spell, but the defence had learned their lessons, we had players back and we marked intelligently and flexibly.
Overall we were back to playing smart hockey, mixing the long and short passes, running well off the ball, playing the early ball when it was needed, and passing back effectively. We could have used the late ball wide, especially to Ewan on the right, a little more than we did, and our expansive cross-field passes needed better accuracy, but these are small points in a very good all round team effort.
We now have six league wins on the pitch, equalling the 6th team’s all-time record from 2015-2016 (alright, we’ve only been around three seasons), and we have 4 games left to raise the benchmark!