Deadly duo down defiant Dynamos
Highwaymen motor on
BEHC Dynamos 2 BEHC Highwaymen 4
Once again the Highwaymen and Dynamos proved that inter-Club rivalries need not always give rise to matches which are either tetchy or low on tension-ridden quality, as this game more than matched the corresponding fixture in November 2017. Both teams can take great credit from this latest derby, the "away" Highwaymen for clocking up another hard-fought win, Chris Brown's Dynamos for playing some very enterprising hockey and - when both he and Will Leverton were on the pitch - often having the better of things in the first and last quarter. That the visitors in white ended up on top was down to the dynamic duo of Pat Gainey and loanee Chris Hall, who both bagged a brace of goals and could have added to their respective tallies on another day. The latter was only playing as a result of the former not being 100% certain of starting due to a close family bereavement, but the Highwaymen were ultimately lucky enough to have both players at their disposal.
Match-day manager Mark Ainley was able to recall last week's absentee Andy Rose to the centre of midfield, and he was - as usual - pivotal to so much of the Highwaymen's positive play and ball retention. Similarly, Ravi Wickramasuriya continued to exhaust opponents on the right with his mazy runs and byline crosses, which the Club's forwards all too often fail to exploit. Graham Green was once more a well-oiled machine in the midfield, Chris Bernard cruised down the left as if driving down Sunset Strip in a gas-guzzling convertible, and Peter Robinson did remember to take his sunglasses off before entering the field of play and firing up the Quattro. He looks like he has never been away ... although he appears to be looking the other way (in profile) in the combined team photo above.
The home team started well, although the calming influence of the Highwaymen's unchanged defensive unit kept most alarms at bay. Steve Miller and Phil Kinch continue to provide a formidable roadblock week-in, week-out, with Richard Cleall in front of the back three having yet another outstanding season in a defensive midfield role which truly defines the team. Nevertheless, a huge amount of time was spent with the action parked down in the away team's left-back area, where all roads leading out seemed to be perpetually closed and the team clearly seemed to be missing the left-flank policing of the absent Greg Dowse. At one point it appeared that the men in red were considering asking for planning permission as they had squatted in the corner for so long, but an eviction order was eventually served and the Dynamos were moved on once the Highwaymen eventually got back into top gear.
Sammy Chana and Stephen Gilbert rotated in and out of the forward roles, the former for once unable to add to his impressive 2017-2018 goal tally, the latter once again coming oh so close to opening his current league account late on at the left post. Nerves were calmed, however, by a triple salvo from Pat Gainey and Chris Hall which gave the Highwaymen a 3-0 half-time cushion before they swapped squinting into the sun with getting blasted by the cold wind in their faces for the second 35 minutes.
But all credit to the Dynamos who never let their heads drop, even after conceding a fourth goal, and who indeed finished the stronger of the two teams once the Highwaymen took their foot off the throttle and decided to try and see out the game on cruise control. This is never a particularly good idea against a team that is cumulatively over 200 years younger, or, if you take Club legend Tony D'Cruz out of the equation, nearly 300 years shorter in the tooth. Goalkeeper - and man-of-the-match by no more than a chrome bumper after a race-off with about five other players - Tom Conway could not be blamed for either the high deflection that beat him for the first, nor the short-corner that cannoned off a defender's stick with just over a minute left on the clock. He was brilliant throughout, as he has been all season, and commanded his D well, even if his voice has not yet quite reached the foghorn volume level required to occasionally reach some of his hearing-impaired co-defenders.
The umpires too were excellent, although Joni Coleman almost had to card himself after felling one of the visiting defenders before a short corner with a brandish of the arm which was more fascist salute in style, than "traffic cop". At any event the overturned defender eventually got back up to his feet via his roll-bar and play resumed with no endorsements or penalty points.
The Highwaymen are now all but mathematically guaranteed a top-two-slot, as a nine point and thirty-five goal difference margin is unlikely to be bridged by third-placed Holcombe with only three fixtures left to play. But nobody wants to finish second now, and with Herne Bay surprisingly losing their third match since Christmas at Canterbury, the men from BEHC need just one more win to be certain of going one better. The first opportunity comes next weekend ... against Canterbury, which just shows that nothing in sport or life is ever easy!
Tom Conway, Tim Walters, Steve Miller, Phil Kinch, Richard Cleall, Ravi Wickramasuriya, Chris Bernard, Graham Green, Sammy Chana, Peter Robinson, Pat Gainey, Chris Hall and Stephen Gilbert (C).
Tom Conway - has overcome injury adversity again and put in probably his best ever season of consistent performances for the Club. Saturday was just yet another example of this.
Joni Coleman and Carney Battenti both did a very good job indeed in very sunny and windy conditions which did not always make visibility easy. In fact, it appeared that one of the Highwaymen was doing a grand man-marking job on the shadowy figure of Battenti, before a playing colleague pointed out that the shape silhouetted against the sun on the right wing was of the non-playing variety.