3 more points and another step to safety
By Sean Hardingham
Battling not only the opposition but also the elements, South Berks Men's 2s secure a vital 3 points after a 3-2 victory away to Windsor.
A hard fought 3-2 away victory to Windsor has left South Berkshire Men's 2s just one victory away from safety in the closest of relegation battles.
On a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon and with 6 teams all in the relegation mix, South Berks knew that only a win would do. Having had confirmation that the pitch had passed its morning inspection, South Berks travelled to fellow relegation battlers Windsor in an all-important 6 pointer. Off of the back of the impressive victory last week over Thame, South Berks were full of confidence.
However, playing away is sometimes a different prospect and with home advantage Windsor started much the stronger team. Some resolute defending and misplaced shots meant that Windsor never took advantage of their early dominance and allowed South Berks to steadily grow into the game. The contest began to slowly turn on its axis and South Berks, playing a strong possession game, began to exert pressure of their own. A couple of good saves from the Windsor goalkeeper ensured that the match remained deadlocked going into half time.
The 2nd half began with both teams beginning to play more nervous hockey, knowing a mistake could be costly in this close contest. With 10 minutes gone and the weather getting colder the game exploded into life. Sweeper Sean Hardingham tackled strongly midway in his own half and, spotting a high Windsor defensive line, sent a perfect aerial over the top for Paul Kaplanski to latch onto and score his first of the afternoon. Having taken the lead South berks knew that controlling the ball was essential in securing the 3 points. However a defensive mistake allowed Windsor to strike almost immediately back scoring passed South Berks Keeper Sam Moors.
Undeterred, South Berks mounted another round of attacks and this sustained pressure resulted in Paul Kaplanski grabbing his 2nd of the game. A well worked short corner enabling Paul to slot home and give South Berks the lead again. This time South Berks remained resolute and for the next 10 minutes played in a controlled and secure manner keeping the ball away from Windsor. Then out of nowhere another mistake let Windsor back in the game. An almost carbon copy of their first goal!
Earlier in the season this would have resulted in South Berks to losing faith and concede throwing away the game. But not now and not today. Today this is a more confident, determined and resolute team with a never give up attitude. A sweeping counterattack from Paul Kaplanski and Kaya Campion led to Ash Stratton sweeping in the winner for South Berks 5 minutes before the final whistle. Some intelligent and safe play saw the Black & Greens see out the final few minutes in relative ease. Cue the final whistle and some relieved celebrations.
A close game that demonstrated South Berks gritty determination to keep going until the very end to come away with a vital 3 points and distance themselves from that relegation zone.
Next week the team host West Hampstead knowing that a win will secure their place in the league next season. It's still squeaky bum time!