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Jokers 3 - 3 Merton 1s (H)

22nd November 2023

By Trevor Mallinson

Team: Haycroft (Capt), Proudman, Barnicoat, Hardy, Bloxham, Hodges, Stone, Balbirnie, Bowen, Carlisle, Dye, Hicks, Mallinson

Scorers: Mallinson x 2, Carlisle

Umpires: Richard Eley, Peter Stratford-Lockhart (well controlled and no cards!)

This weekend the Jokers had the early pushback at Surbiton on Pitch 2. This meant we were missing some stalwarts in Foster, JJ and Sayer who apparently don’t do mornings. So thanks to Zak and Sam who stepped in to fill their boots and did a fine job. With captain Jim also missing in action and Stoner forced to the bench (possibly still learning which kebab shops to trust in his new neighbourhood), odds were looking promising to manage a full 70 minutes with 11.

The game started as calmly as the rain that fell on the pitch and the Jokers managed to gain early control and move the ball around. This is no small point as we have struggled to start well for most of the season.

It didn’t last long though as against the run of play Merton managed to get through our defences and stick one in the back. The Jokers kept their composure, kept moving the ball and earned a few corners. With Stoner still working through the sweats, we were missing variety at the top of the castle and couldn’t convert.

Merton, buoyed by their goal, started to gain more control and managed to make a few runs into our D but the new central defence pairing of Ravers and Dan generally had the measure of their forwards. Even if a Ravers gentlemanly shove in the back on their forward as he was shooting was missed by the umpire.

But the Jokers still managed to get the ball upfield and Trev finally connected a bobbling ball, hitting the underside of the crossbar and it ricocheting straight down behind the goal line. Much like the Lampard goal in the world cup against Germany, but this time given. 1-1.

The game now even, the Jokers pushed with a blistering move down the right. Zak to U2 Phil and then on to fellow Irish country man Andy for a Flatley esq. pirouette, shot and goal. Jokers 2-1 going into half time.

Most of the half time team talk seemed to be whether Noaksy was or wasn’t going to play centre mid. Maybe some were concerned with his warm up comment, “It’s playing rather fast today”. Pity the doubters as the experienced Noaksy distributed beautifully giving Jon a well-earned rest to later continue hassling the opposition.

There was also a half time warning from stand in captain Big T that whoever scored next is likely to take the game. Luckily, the Merton forward didn’t get the memo and in open space managed to shank the ball to the right of the goal. Trev did get the memo but saw the Merton player’s shank, raised him a few yards to the right and minused the goalkeeper. A shot that proudly earned him the match report.

Merton recovered from their embarrassment first and scored. 2-2. Trev trying to make amends then managed to intercept a pass around the halfway and with Steven Austin like speed and strength managed to fight off a defender on his back while the keeper tackled him round the ankles to score. Surbs moved back into the lead 3-2.

Then with about five minutes left to play the ball was pinging around in the Surbiton D for what seemed an age. Merton couldn’t score and Surbiton couldn’t clear. The type of hockey that would make an U6s coach frustrated. Eventually the ball pinged one too many times against Surbiton and the ball snuck over the line. 3-3.

Stoner either now frustrated with the game or having finally dealt with the sweats, took to the field and Surbiton proceeded to win a corner. The stage was set for Stoner to etch his name in the annals of glorious victories. Alas it was not to be and the baldest U14 keeper that we have ever played against kept the ball out and the match ended as calmly as it started.

Felt like we should have had this one in the bag but in Big T’s words, “We stopped the rot”.