Hertford Hockey Club Men’s 1st team had seen a recent dip in form and, more worryingly, performance levels. The fans, coaching staff and players themselves all wanted to see a reaction this week and put the heart back into He(a)rtford. They were set for a challenging fixture away to St Albans.
The Stags were bolstered by the return of their talismanic midfielder Alex Metcalfe, having been away on international duty.
From the first whistle, the match started at a blistering pace (which continued throughout), with both teams trying to get the upper hand and looking to latch onto any mistakes by the opposition.
Hertford conjured up the better of the chances, with Adrian Fileczki pick pocketing the Saints defenders on several occasions, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.
The Reds defence were holding out strong; making a well-oiled attacking threat look very average. So they were unfortunate to see themselves go behind, with St Albans scoring a breakaway attack that began from a Hertford penalty corner.
The sides went in at half time with the score 1-0 to the home side, but with visitors very much in the contest.
The second half saw St Albans dominate possession, but with no real threat. Any chances they did create were quickly snuffed out by Ollie de Roeck (man of the match), who spent most of the game doing an impression of Bambi on ice.
Despite seeing less of the ball, Hertford still carried a threat – crafting several goal scoring opportunities (see the xG for more details). Critically, they were not able to capitalise on these.
With just five minutes left to find a deserved equaliser, the Herts coaching team decided to roll the dice and throw on an extra forward. This did cause St Albans problems, but also left the away side vulnerable to the counter. The Saints were able to expose this and with 30 seconds left on the clock they managed to secure all three points with an average strike on goal.
The match ended 2-0 to St Albans.
The game was played in fantastic spirit, with both teams fighting until the end.
Although Hertford were on the wrong end of the result, this was a massive improvement and there were plenty of positives to take into next week’s home fixture against Old Loughtonians. Get down there and cheer the Stags on – let’s put the heart back into He(a)rtford!