Classy Boro Cooly Coast Past Curmudgeonly Cambridge Cambridge City Mens 6th XI 1:5 Wellingborough Mens 1st XI Wellingborough Hockey Club’s Mens 1st XI – proudly sponsored by Prop-Search - remain top of East League 5NW on goal difference after another professional and clinical performance on the road, which demonstarted a growing sense of positivity and maturity for a team that has found the winning mentality this season. A hattrick for Matthew Bicknell and two for Steven Keal-Frayne – all from close range - also shows Boro have multiple options and real depth when it comes to scoring goals.
When these teams met at Fortress Wrenn in early October, Cambridge were above Boro in the table but were swept aside 7-2 in a hard fought game that is perhaps best remembered for a slightly ungracious CCHC match report labelling Boro as an ‘unrefined’ team that ‘actually didn’t play very good hockey’, culminating in a slightly ominous, ‘We’re looking forward to hosting Wellingborough at Home......’
The context has changed since then. Boro are now top with games in hand and playing like a squad with purpose and belief, and they travelled to Cambridge to express themselves with positive hockey rather than being pulled into a scrappy grudge match. Boro’s best laid plans had to adapt to the late arrival of Luke Oakley, leaving them playing the opening 15 minutes with just 10 on the pitch. After a cagey opening few minutes, the game burst to life when City’s first attack led to the opening goal – a ball crashed in from the left was superbly deflected into the roof by City’s centre forward on he run, whilstling past John Bishop’s ear and leaving him no chance. Boro hit back within a minute. If the build up may have been simple – Boro cutting through City with short passing triangles at pace up the centre of the pitch – then Bicknell’s finish was sublime. The charging Andrew Wade found Keal-Frayne on the penlty spot and his snap shot was saved. Collecting the rebound with multiple bodies and a rapidly approaching keeper between him and the goal, Bicknell shifted the ball to his left creating a yard of space, and finished with a deft reverse stick chip. Five minutes gone, two top quality goals, game on.
Any early Boro nerves had now settled, and within five minutes they were in the lead with a move straight off the training ground that would have left coach David Langley purring with satisfaction. Bicknell drifted wide of the goal on the byeline as another flowing Boro move approached, Simon Morrisey could have shot himself but cooly found the unmarked Bicknell on the left post who swept in.
When Oakley arriving with Boro already 2:1 up, the tone of the game had largely been set. With 11 players now on the pitch Boro were in full control, able to keep posession for longer periods and cause City problems every time they attacked with any pace. City were struggling with the speed of the game, but kept pushing and repeatedly fired quality crosses from deep and wide positions that needed to be dealt with.
At the back John Bishop was sharp on the rare occasions he was balled upron, including a fine save from a short crner drag flick. The returning Rob Leslie-Carter had an untroubled day, calmly finding passes through the City front line and midfield, and directing traffic. On the left Paul Smith was first to everything and snuffed out the endless right wing crosses coming in from City. Oakley played with the calmness of someone who knew they had a double header this weekend, but his distribution was perfect, and his tenacious defending at it’s squirreling best when required.
Boro’s midfield of Bilson, Morrisey, Dan Hill, Jose Dos Santos and Andrew Wade had a day to remember, and were the catalyst for every Boro attack. Boro’s third before the break was typical – with all five players involved as Boro swept upfield, again culminating with Morrissey driving into the circle and shooting past the keeper, this time to Keal-Frayne who slid in at the right post to expertly deflect the ball home. The second half was more of the same as City tired. Boro’s fourth came from an Andrew Wade run and a threaded pass through the City defense to Keal-Frayne who again defelcted in from the right post. On a rare occasion that Oakley went forward he set up Bicknell for his hattrick and Boro’s fifth with a perfect running pass that left the City backline bewildererd.
Compared to the October meeting between these two teams, this game was played in good spirits and Boro were professional and disciplined throughout. In the final five minutes as City ran out of steam there was some nastiness from as City frustrations grew. Morrisey emerged with a bloody hand from an encounter where the ball appeared to be deliberately drilled into him from close range as he lay prosrate on the ground. Moments later the same City player lost his stick whilst hacking down Wade from behind to halt yet another upfield charge. Morrissey simply dusted himself off and continued, Wade returned the stick without comment to the offending player. Unecessary from City, pure class from both Boro men.
With a double header this weekend and next to make up for snow affected fixtures before Christmas, the Boro train continues away at Horncastle tomorrow where they have a chance to keep the chasing pack at bay.
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