LX 60 Reds v USPHC Masters Sunday 20th Mar 2016

(left to right, back row: Stuart Forrest, Ian Knox, Paramjit Hayre, Mike Leatt, Gavin Stokes, Steve Crute. Front row: Jeff Jackson, Peter Austin, Rob Oakley, Max Jason, John Housham, Jon Marshall, Graham Ramsden)

The weekend of the 19th/20th March saw the second 60's Reds training weekend with an opening match late on Saturday afternoon against Salisbury HC Masters, a mixture of their Strollers and Striders squads kindly organised by Leslie Wastie. Starting with only 11 players, a recovering reveller from the St Patricks Day celebrations appeared in our defence making an excellent pass to the opposing centre forward and within 20 seconds we were a goal down (see attached photo of the happy Leprechaun!). Undeterred we fought back with goals taken by Max Jason and Jon Marshall giving us a 2:1 lead by the first break. Mike Leatt arrived just after half- time to give some variety to the squad. Shortly after Rob Oakley extended the score line by following up a short corner strike before the hosts clawed back a late goal for the match to finish 3:2. The LX Club were due to play their first match against Salisbury Masters a month before, cancelled due to a pitch booking issue. However, we look forward to the formal inaugural match and is recommended to all members as this is a great venue with excellent facilities and very welcoming hosts.

Sunday saw our second match against United Services Portsmouth HC, a match that we knew was going to put us to the test having narrowly lost last August 2:1. If anything the hosts arrived with stronger opposition placing us under pressure right from the start. This was just what the doctor ordered for our preparation for our journey down under. At the first break we found ourselves 2:0 down extended to 5:0 by the second break.

Perhaps a little late, we re-organised the squad, increasing midfield strength providing us with the first opportunity of the match to dominate the pitch. This resulted in some excellent passing streams enabling us to apply pressure to their defence resulting in two short corners that were both converted. The first a nicely placed shot by Jon Marshall. The second resulted from a follow up strike parried back to the top of the crowded D where Steve Crute - as cool as a cucumber - placed an unforgettable and confident lob over the outstretched keeper and into the net. A late goal by USPHC resulted in a resounding 6:2 win to the hosts. The final third enabled the Reds to regain some confidence and taught us some valuable lessons to take with us to Australia.

A big thank you to our excellent hosts and particularly Dickie Croker for organising another excellent days hockey. It is always a real pleasure to experience the excellent sporting facilities available to our servicemen at HMS Temeraire.