St Francis had expected this to be a very tough match as Brighton had convincingly beaten them in their first encounter of the season. Indeed this was to prove to be the case and this was made none the easier by the fact that several regular players were absent. And so it was that stand in captain Richard Ward
decided to change the starting formation in the hope that it would stifle Brighton’s undoubted swift flowing hockey but also enable Saints to break when given the chance. Brighton started well putting St Francis under consistent pressure, but through a combination of stout defending and lightning quick counters St Francis took the lead against the run of play. This seemed to knock Brighton out of their flow and Saints capitalised on this and quickly built a four goal lead. Goals came from Chris Batchelor (penalty flick), Nigel Nuttall
(penalty corner) and two from Ed Boucher. At this point the spectators sunning themselves in the glorious afternoon sun may have started to suspect an unlikely rout, however to Brighton’s credit they pulled themselves together and through a series of short corners dragged themselves back in to the match. St Francis although rocked by Brighton’s onslaught did not cave in and responded in turn through a lovely team move finished by George BAZIRE
. At halftime the score was 5-4 to St. Francis.
The second half started with Brighton pushing hard to find an equaliser. With both teams struggling in the bright sunshine to clearly identify friend from foe play became a little fragmented and some of the raw pace from the first half dropped away. As players tired mistakes and frustrations were regular and through one such instance Saints found themselves down to ten players. However, this proved only to steel Saints and during this period Tom Harvey
managed to extend the St Francis lead, finishing well following a series of penalty corners. Shortly after this a brilliant solo effort from Ed Boucher saw him complete his hatrick with a cheeky finish from an acute angle. This seemed to finally knock the resilience from Brighton and at the final whistle St Francis had gained an impressive 7-4 win. The man of the match award was made to Ed Boucher for his goals and all round display.
Skipper Ward commented that the win owed much to the desire and commitment shown throughout the team but reserved particular praise for those players stepping in to the team – Patrick Alvgren
, George BAZIRE
, Ed Marsh and debutant Josh Brown