MIXED FORTUNE FOR BIG CATS
Sunday 11th November
LX Panthers v Ashford Antiques
A glaring miss by the Antiques in the dying moments of the game enabled LX Panthers to record a narrow 3-2 win in this popular double- header with Canterbury at Ball Lane, Ashford. The Cheetahs were not quite so lucky in their subsequent game with Canterbury.
Keith Hunt was nicely poised (not an expression we normally associate with him) to push home a rebound when the Antiques’ defence failed to clear from a penalty corner.
Imtiaz, who took over the captaincy due to Mike Surridge’s enforced absence, showed his silky skills and powerful strike when he manoeuvred himself to the top of the circle and rattled in a shot which the Antiques’ goalkeeper could only hear whistle past him.
Graham George was allowed too much space by the Ashford sweeper and went wide of the ’keeper, to give himself a well-taken third goal.
In between times, the Antiques managed two goals, both well constructed and just good enough to beat a well organised LX defence.
Alan Dures, as usual, was blameless (well he would say that wouldn't he?). John (hirsute) Longden and Gurney (not so hirsute) White both showed remarkable anticipation and reaction to intercept passes and through balls from the Ashford attack.
Peter Ross ran his socks off in midfield and combined well with Imtiaz and David Brampton to keep up the pressure on the sometimes panicky Antiques’ defenders. Graham Martin bustled effectively up front and Gilbert Grace, who was favouring a damaged fetlock, cantered willingly to support Tom Darlington and Graham George. Keith Hunt appeared to stop everything that was fired at him on the wing; his fire certainly not extinguished by his Antique marker (yours truly).
The LX Panthers deserved this narrow win, if only for their domination of the midfield and their demonstration of how to pass accurately enough to maintain good possession. The Antiques put up a spirited show and might have earned a draw if their concentration had survived 70 minutes.
Thanks to Ashford’s Nick and Ben Rea for their umpiring which contributed to a most enjoyable game.
Team: Alan Dures, John Longden, Gurney White, Gilbert Grace,
Peter Ross, Keith Hunt, Tom Darlington, Imtiaz Mahmood-Sheikh (capt), David
Brampton, Graham Martin, Graham George.
LX Cheetahs 1 Canterbury Vets 5
The LX Cheetahs took the field at Ashford to play Canterbury Vets captained by John Maylam, keen to follow in the footsteps of the first game which LX Panthers had won 3-2 against Ashford Antiques.
However within five minutes, Tony Jones, playing for Canterbury, deflated hopes with a superbly deflected shot into the top of the net. LX gradually found better form and the halves pushed up well to support the forwards, with David Wright and Robin Mayes having excellent runs which provided good opportunities. Despite this, another Canterbury attack led to a loose ball near the LX goal-line and Tony Jones scored again, making the score 0-2 at half-time.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, LX soon dominated play, Sudesh Nayar at inside left was hitting accurate first-time passes, one of which led to Austyn Leaverland’s subsequent pass to Tony Williams on the right wing. He smartly crossed to Stephen Stowell, who clipped the ball cleverly past Stuart Port in the Canterbury goal. Brian Woolcott on the left made some magical runs, but the irrepressible Tony Jones was not to be contained and poached another goal at close quarters to complete his hat-trick The LX rearguard of Rainer Vogt and John Widgery both had excellent games, and Nigel Dixon between the posts could not be faulted for any of the goals. But constant pressure from the Canterbury forwards eventually led to a penalty flick which was converted by John Maylam.
More pressure gave Nick Barry a chance which he put away to make the final score 5-1 to Canterbury.
Thanks go to Ben Rea and Gurney White who kindly umpired, and especially to Ashford Hockey Club and its catering team, led by Tony Post, who having made major preparations for a three-course meal, were disadvantaged by a local power cut. However, with typical ingenuity, the chicken and leek pies were converted to chicken curry – with the assistance of the Mumtaz Indian Restaurant, Kennington – and an excellent meal was served.
Team: Nigel Dixon, Rainer Vogt, John Widgery, Robin Mayes,
David Wright, David Read, Tony Williams, Austyn Leaverland, Stephen Stowell (capt),
Sudesh Nayar, Brian Woolcott.