A thrilling game of hockey ended with a fair result for a Bedford side unrecognisable from our opponents last October. But it could so easily have been just a little bit better.
Riley Skillett and Gabriel Thornton made their 6th team debuts, Riley giving us that rare sight of a full back under 50. With Luke Godwin and Adam Sutherland returning and Chris Dean home from college, we looked a lot younger and quicker than last week and we needed to be against a pacey and well organised Bedford side that largely relied on a brisk short passing game down the middle of the pitch.
It didn't start well. 10 minutes, two short corners, two goals down....
We rearranged our short corner defence and whilst the short corner count kept on growing, with help from a string of reflex saves from Andy, they didn't score from a set piece again.
Meanwhile, we began to string some passes together, first up the left through Richard and Chris, then increasingly up the right as we finally began to feed Luke. On 20 minutes we finally won a short corner of our own and though Daryl's shot was saved we scrapped hard to keep the ball in front of the goal and Chris tucked away our first goal. Daryl stormed through to add the second, and as half time approached we stunned them again, as Gabriel picked up a long ball, committed the wide defender and sent Luke down to the right hand corner flag. Luke's cross came flat to Chris in front of the keeper, who made no mistake. Probably our best goal of the season.
Sadly, in the second half we couldn't keep it up. We absorbed another string of short corners and managed a couple of threatening breaks, but struggled to recover our defensive shape as Bedford pushed more players down the middle. They equalised with 15 minutes to go and ran through us again soon after to retake the lead. We kept running, but were out of steam and if anything another Bedford goal looked more likely than an equaliser.
Much positive to take from the game. We didn't have many clear cut chances, but we took most of them. We responded intelligently to the disastrous start and worked out how to stem the flow. We need to keep numbers back when we face faster opponents - quite a common situation for us.
Chris gets man of the match, and not just for the two goals. Riley and Gabriel handled the Bedford veterans well and added some valuable control on the ball. For twenty wonderful minutes in the second quarter we looked a very good attacking side.