It was not easy but we did end up with 11 players. First John Bennett stirred himself for his first outing of the season then Adrian Lord added himself to the list followed by Rashmi fresh from holiday and finally Parit and Bharat bravely volunteered to double up after their game. Well, we certainly did not lack experience but we certainly did lack legs.
So the plan was to defend in strength and depth, never take risks in our own circle and man mark tightly. To improve the defense still further we played with just two attackers and twin centre halves of Parit and Bharat. With that formation we might just scrape a 0-0 draw with a fair wind, or so Mike Lord hoped.
As the match started he was walking round the end of the pitch when the first goal went in so his plans were already in tatters; we were in the lead thanks to Jan-Willem!
Back came West Herts but it soon became clear that it was not a fluke. Steve Biggins was superb as sweeper, never missing a tackle. In front in the unusual role of centre back Berl played a particularly strong game, perhaps he should play there again. John Bennet did not move a lot but it did not prove to be an impediment, very little got past him at left back. Vas in goal still had plenty of action but he always snuffed out any threat early. Finally Adrian at right back was as assured and composed as ever, like John he could not run much but he found the right tackles and always found a way to release the ball through to the midfield.
And what a midfield. At the centre, Parit and Bharat played seamlessly alongside each other both playing deft and penetrating hockey. With Jan Willem on the left and John Dunne on the right we lost count of the number of triangles and other combinations of passes forwards, backwards and sideways that always seemed to find their man. It was a midfield masterclass.
Then up front we had Andy and Rashmi who were magnificent. Neither had played for a couple of weeks and both made up for it with really busy runs, good passing, interceptions, they ran the opposition defence ragged
So it was quite deserved, indeed a little understated that we reached half time three goals up as Parit scored one lovely goal and John D added a third. There was only one scare at our end as a left wing cross went right across the mouth of the goal but did not find the lone attacker.
We anticipated a drop off in performance after half time as everyone tired and the opposition regrouped but it did not happen. We continued to defend perfectly. The midfield domination continued unabated and we continued to create chances up front winning five short corners. We only got one goal but it was a corker. Parit for the umpteenth time leaving the opposition for dead powered through the centre of the pitch and fed Jan-Willem on the top of the circle who turned and skied the ball into the top of the net.
Ever the gentlemen we let the home side grab a late goal in the last minute.
What a performance!