Close but no Cigar
Charlie Speller reports
Pre-match preparations for the daunting away trip to play Tunbridge Wells 1st XI (currently top of the table) were not exactly ideal. With the home team having to use a separate pitch for the second half of the season due to booking clashes, there were no changing rooms nor any other facilities around an otherwise perfect, new Astroturf. Preparations were thus somewhat disjointed and this may have been evident as an early error in the middle of the park led to Tunbridge opening the scoring within seconds of the game beginning. The fear was that this could lead to a humiliation akin to the Banbury fixture but fortunately this was not the case.
After a tricky first 5 minutes in which it was clear that Tunbridge had added to their already talented squad, Blackheath started to find their feet. The boys looked good on the counter and were creating far more opportunities in and around the opposition 25. This was obvious at the final whistle as the defensive improvement was marked by the team not even conceding one short corner. It was an evenly contested half, with some slick hockey played by both sides and the tempo noticeably higher than had been the case in recent weeks. The kind of match where opportunities needed to be taken. It was no coincidence that the side at the top of the table then produced a moment of magic as one of their boys took on three or four defenders before nailing a reverse against our backboard. 2-0 at half time but no one felt as if it was game over.
BEs ramped up the pressure in the second half as Tunbridge sat back and tried to close up the spaces that had been exploited in the first half. This led to the 1st XI dominating the second period. One goal was pulled back as neat interchanges in the middle led to Chris Harden finding Dave Lawrence on the right hand side of the D. A perfectly weighted ball into the middle saw a diving Charlie Speller get in front of his man and get the ball in at the second attempt. 2-1, game on. At this point, Tunbridge’s adaptation proved to bear fruit as a counter-attack with a fortunate deflection from a ball hit across the D found a Tunbridge player at the far post who tapped it in to make it 3-1. Frustrating but not all was lost. Having won a number of short corners throughout the game, Chris Harden put one through the legs of the opposition keeper and set up a tense finale. Blackheath had plenty of opportunities but were unable to turn another strong performance into points.
That leaves 8 games left to play with Blackheath now in an increasingly dangerous position. BEs are 11th on 11 points trailing Staines, Bournemouth and Tulse Hill & Dulwich. They are all within touching distance but a crunch game next weekend at home to Bournemouth may prove pivotal in the fight for survival.
MoM: Ben Wyatt/Lewis Burnham
DoD: James Morrison (Lucky Josh Self + Eddy Forshaw)
Next Week - Bournemouth (H) 13:30