Chelmsford Tournament, 13th/14th May 2006
|The format of this years Divisional Over 55s Tournament changed from that of last year. Then the 2 invitation sides - LX and Germany over 60s - played both each other and some of the Divisional sides. This year LX played the Italian over 60s and the Welsh and SCottish over 55s with play-offs for final placement. The Divisional tournament ran parallel but without cross over matches.It gave the LX Bra squad a good chance to test themselves in 4 matches over the weekend and against somewhat younger opponents. Only Peter Sharpe was unable to make the weekend, but on the Saturday LX were also without Norman Ballard, and so down to a squad of 13 players.|
Saturday 12 May
Despite dire weather forecasts, the day was pleasant and without rain. LX lined up first against the Italians with a match in the afternoon against the Scottish over 55s. Unfortunately both matches were on the sand pitch, largely due to National League commitments, which tested the bones and muscles!
Italy 0 LX 2
The Italians, who continue to improve at this level, had one or two playmakers, but lacked the general strength of the LX squad. Consequently, the first half saw the LX dominating the match, but as was to prove to be the case throughout the weekend, failing to put away a number of chances. One of the drawbacks of the LX play was that with a powerful defence and midfield, and just three front runners, the Italians soon bunched in mass defence, thus creating crowded areas behind the 25 which made 'breaks' and clear cut scoring opportunities hard to come by. However, play up and down the filed remained impressive, and first Brian Perryman, and then Skipper Ken Wilcock scored with well taken shots from the back of the D.2-0 to LX at half time.
Sensing the match was going to be a 'stroll' in the second half, the LX lapsed badly and poor passing and erratic control allowed the Italians to begin to take the game to the LX. The game became scrappy and the possibility of an Italian breakaway goal became an alarming thought! However the LX survived the second half, which proved scoreless, and then took time out to ponder on why it had failed to profit on its early monopoly in what should have been a 7 or 8 goal win. With Bra in mind, the squad were conscious that they would need to deal more ruthlessly with weaker opponents.
Scottish Over 55s 2 LX 2
Scotland were up for this game, clearly anxious to defeat the old enemy, especially as they had been narrowly defeated 0-1 by the Welsh earlier and so needed to put points on the board. Brian Perryman was rested in the first half at right midfield, and whilst LX adjusted to this change and generally were sluggish, the border raids flowed and the LX were kept on the back foot. 2 Scottish goals resulted, both from powerful hits outside the D which were deflected on, giving LX keeper Alan Dures no chance. Sensing the pending disaster, LX pulled themselves back into the game, gradually forcing the Scottish into defence. Shortly before half time, a quick free hit on the Scottish 25 by John Land put Richard Clarke away to the bye-line, where a powerful push across the face of the Scottish goal saw a Scottish deflection into their own net.
This vital goal before half time gave the LX a sense that the match was recoverable, Brian returned to midfield, and LX started to play attractive hockey, using the full width of the pitch and generally dominating. The game was clearly 'turned around' but once again chances went begging and the Scottish clearly sensed they might hold out for a win. A missed LX penalty stroke with 10 minutes left added to the feeling this match was not going the way of LX, when, with minutes left on the clock, a rash Scottish tackle led to a short corner for the LX which Adrian Robertson, to the relief of his side and their touchline supporters, squeezed home. Another lesson to be learnt about early complacency and urgency, but LX could hold their heads up for the spirited fight back.
The second day of the weekend saw a reckoning of the injuries. Brian Perryman and Terry Howlett both decided that, bearing in mind the proximity of the trip to Bra, although their injuries were not too severe, they would not risk playing. The playing squad was therefore:
The results from the previous day were such that LX could not afford to lose to the Welsh Over 55s if they were to win the tournament. A more positive attitude was adopted and LX set off for a win with early pressure on the Welsh defence. Approach-play was constructive but LX were unable to continue this into the last third of the field where attacks regularly broke down principally because of the close man-to-man marking adopted by the Welsh. The Welsh were also competing strongly in midfield and the play was producing very little exercise for the keepers. This also proved to be true from the short corners, the majority of which were for LX. The resultant half time score of 0-0 was therefore of no surprise.
The second half proved to be more of the same but with increasing dominance of LX, resulting in further short corners from which LX were unable to score even from rebounds from the keeper. There seemed to be a lack of urgency to score when the ball was running loose in the circle. John Land’s tackle on the Welsh playmaker was unacceptable to the umpire and his short rest enable him to watch a spirited attacking spell by the LX ten. The final whistle came with LX fitness looking as if it could win the day, but this was not to be. Final score 0-0.
The results of the morning’s play meant that the “final” would be a repeat of LX v Welsh Over 55s game. LX were sure that their fitness at the end of the first game would give them the momentum they needed to overcome the Welsh, but this was not apparent at the start. The play followed that of the morning with the majority being in midfield with the defences still in control. As time progressed play moved more towards the Welsh goal and LX had a run of short corners, again providing no results. The half time score 0-0.
The second half continued with LX pressing the Welsh. The formation moved up the pitch and LX midfield/defence kept the Welsh pressed in their own half. This occasionally saw the odd breakaway but Peter Crayford tidied this up, leaving Adrian Robertson upfield to add further support to the LX midfield. A number of short corners again went amiss before the result was settled. With five minutes to play the Welsh failed to clear a short corner. This was collected outside the circle by Ken Wilcock who found the time and space to enter the circle before placing his shot clear of the goalkeeper - a score at long last. LX pressed to try to make the score a reflection of their territorial advantage, but were content with the final score of LX 1-Welsh Over 55s 0 and LX therefore winners of the tournament. The weekend was a good workout as the final get-together before Bra.