South Berkshire Terriers put in their strongest performance of the season as they comfortably saw off league leaders Phoenix & Ranelagh with an assured attacking first half display, followed by a solid defensive display in the second half to secure a well deserved clean-sheet victory.
The Terriers got off to a confident start, settling quickly as they looked to attack down the channels and put their opponents under early pressure. A penalty corner opportunity went unconverted after 5mins, but the signs were there as the Terriers created opportunities and played with real pace. Another well worked move down the left hand side saw the ball swiftly interchanged between players before it was driven across goal for Monty Neave to steer the ball in for his first goal for the Terriers.
The positive play continued and was rewarded with another penalty corner midway through the half, and this time a well worked routine brought the second goal. Austin Jennings slipped the ball square to Dominic Harvey in a pre-planned move, and he slapped the ball hard towards goal where James Romain nipped in front of the keeper and deflected the ball past him for a well worked goal.
A 2-0 lead at halftime was well deserved for the Terriers after the best attacking display of the season. However, the second half saw a much more defensive display required. A low, strong sun was a challenge to play into, and Phoenix & Ranelagh were allowed far more possession, although there were few nervous moments for the Terriers. When threatened, Jake Rouse was supreme in goal, dominating any balls that came within a few metres of his goal.
The Terriers always looked a threat when breaking down the wing. With 5mins left, Terriers broke swiftly - the move starting deep in their own half with Dominic Harvey who had slotted in at left back after Liam Wilson departed with a nasty gash to his left leg, and within 10 seconds the ball was deep in the opposition hard. Robbie Campion drilled the ball across the D and Austin Jennings was lurking on the penalty spot to confidently steer it past the keeper for the third.
A 3-0 win, but even more importantly, the best team performance of the season, with every one of the young Terriers having their strongest game of the season. Austin Jennings and James Romain were tirelessly in their work rate all day, menacing and pressing the opposition so they could not settle, and looking to spring into attack with pace and every opportunity. Dominic Harvey and Monty Neave threatened to leave grown men in tears as they surged forward with menace and dribbling skill as they oozed confidence taking players on. Alexander and Gregor O'Keefe were a whirling blur of confidence, fearless in going in for every 50/50 tackle and always looking to work the ball down the channel. Perhaps more than any other players in the team, the twins have progressed at a fearsome rate since the start of the season. And finally, Jake Rouse has had to wait for his first win of the season in a Terriers shirt, but today he was outstanding when called upon. Like all the other youngsters, the confidence grows game by game.
After a run of games at home, the Terriers are back on the road to Oxford next week, and will be looking to continue to build not only on the strong results, with only one defeat in five, but more importantly, continue to play their confident and quick style of hockey.