South Berkshire Terriers took their first league win of the season, as a strong attacking display produced a four goal victory in an excellent game of hockey with the development side from Aylesbury & Tring. Whilst it was far from the perfect performance, the quick attacking play of the Terriers was ultimately too much for their young opponents, despite some occasional defensive wobbles.
The opening twenty minutes were an even affair, as Terriers moved the ball confidently through midfield with quick pass and move hockey. However, for all their attacking poise, the Terriers looked vulnerable at the back, as a relentless aerial bombardment meant they could never settle as Aylesbury & Tring launched attack after attack with lofted balls towards the corners. The Terriers were also left exposed through the middle, as a disjointed first half display saw the midfield too flat and often spread too wide, allowing Aylesbury & Tring too many opportunities to drive through the middle and attack the back line.
However, despite the defensive challenges, the Terriers were putting together one of the best attacking displays in a number of games. Monty Neave moved with effortless grace with the ball, setting opponents onto their back foot, whilst Dominic Harvey made a welcome return to the Terriers with one of his best displays in the black and green, as he alternated between attack and midfield. He was unlucky to go unrewarded when after a jinking run into the D his well-stuck shot was parried by the keeper as he headed towards the top corner.
Likewise, Dom's Dad Paul Harvey was unlucky not to score from the Terriers first penalty corner. He picked up the injection, took a small step to avoid the first runner, and sent a powerful flick soaring towards the top corner before the save of the season saw it plucked from shoulder height a foot from the penalty spot. Alas, the save was not from an Aylesbury & Tring defender, but from Austin Jennings, who sprinted across the goal, and in attempt to give the goalbound shot a subtle deflection, instead parried the ball clear!
However, the Terriers didn't have long to wait for their opener, as more pacey attacking play saw Aylesbury & Tring carved open down the right hand side, and a well drilled ball was confidently steered in by Robbie Campion as he lurked a few yards out in front of goal.
A well deserved lead for the Terriers, but the half time chat from captain Neil Badley was quick to reinforce the message that for all the attacking style, the team needed to tighten up to prevent an equalizer. The Terriers responded, and put in a confident and accomplished second half display. The midfield tightened things up when they didn't have the ball, with the experience of Alex Fox-Harvey, Tony Heaver and David Murray ensuring the perfect balance of patrolling the midfield before unleashing dynamic attacks, making the most of the youthful runners in the team. It was the youthful front line that combined for the 2nd Terriers goal, as Austin Jennings fed the ball through the Dominic Harvey who raced behind the Aylesbury & Tring backline to face a 1 on 1 with the keeper. As the last defender caught him up, Dominic showed great composure to bring the ball back through the defenders legs, before a quick sideways step took him round the keeper to slip home the 2nd goal.
The lead was stretched further minutes later, as a well worked move down the right was driven in to Byron Neave who surged into the D to collect the pass and drive the ball hard into the goal with a sweeping slap hit. The Terriers continued to press, as they effectively worked the ball down the channels, but Aylesbury & Tring were not giving up, as they forced a handful of penalty corners, and Jake Rouse had to be alert with some excellent skills in goal to ensure a 4th clean sheet for the Terriers in five games.
With the minutes ticking down, Austin Jennings again proved to be one of the most fearless attackers in the league. Another break behind the defensive line saw him 1 on 1 with the keeper, and he moved with pace to step around him before being unceremoniously crumpled to the ground. However, he dusted himself down, and slotted the resulting penalty flick confidently in for the 4th goal. Moments later, he was unlucky to not get a 2nd and he chased what seemed a hopeless cause and yet managed to get a nick on the ball before colliding with the keeper. The ball flew in off an Aylesbury & Tring defender, but Oz was perhaps unfortunate to see the goal ruled out because of the heavy contact with the keeper.
A four goal victory was a great reward for some stylish attacking play from the Terriers, although it was possibly harsh on Aylesbury & Tring who played some great hockey, and undoubtedly will prove too skillful and energetic for some sides this year. The whole game was played in great spirit, and today's hosts will definitely be most welcome at Cantley Park for the return fixture in the New Year.