There was some much improved team news for Bar as Ben Balmforth was back in goal and generally better availability meant that coach and skipper had 14 players available - James Brooking may have been in attendance but he was only a spectator due to a recurring ankle problem. Visiting Cambridge City were fast out of the gate as regards possession but when Mark Turpin robbed a defender of the ball deep in his own half, they were made to pay the penalty as Turpin found Harvey Edwards racing towards the D on the left and he just about managed to get the ball under the onrushing keeper to give Bar the lead after just 85 seconds.
Bar were however quickly on the back foot as their goal led a charmed life in the opening 10 minutes. Two short corners were conceded after 4 minutes and from one of them Ben Balmforth was twice called into action to make key saves. Two minutes later Balmforth made an important low down interception with his stick to clear the ball away from danger and then on 8 minutes he could only watch as a fine shot from just inside the D cannoned back into play off of the crossbar!
Having survived these scares Bar started to make more of an impression on the game but were still largely on the back foot. They very nearly took a two goal lead on 23 minutes when Miles Tomkins took a quick sideline ball and played the ball to Simon Tenwick who beat a defender, took the ball into the D and looked like he had scored but the ball went just wide of the post. Short corner efforts from both teams came and went before Cambridge got a deserved equaliser on 31 minutes from a neat low finish that Balmforth was just unable to keep out low to his right hand side.
The half time discussion brought a change in both the formation and pressing tactics (zulu press?), all of which went way over the head of your match reporter! These changes were to lead to a much improved second half effort which saw Bar in control for long periods – unfortunately the fairly to properly implement discussions about short corner tactics were to eventually let the side down.
Bar were now creating more chances than in the first half and on 42 minutes Mark Turpin was denied twice in quick succession – the first time by a block from the keeper while his second effort was cleared away by a defender on the goal line. Ben Balmforth was forced into a good save from a Cambridge short corner after 48 minutes from which Bar nearly scored as a quick ball out of defence gave Miles Tomkins a chance but his attempt to lift the ball over the keeper was off target.
Cambridge were starting to look more dangerous and soon after Josh Edge had made a key block on the goal line to maintain parity, the visitors took the lead on 55 minutes when they finally took a chance from a short corner as a well worked routine was fed back to the injector on the near post and he neatly slipped the ball past keeper Ben Balmforth.
Bar were stirred into action and on 57 minutes Ray Li found himself strangely high up the pitch to latch on to a pass from Miles Tomkins but his fine low drive was well saved low down by the keeper. James Brooking tried to secure an assist soon afterwards as he watered the edge of the pitch where the short corners are taken from which allowed Hugh Kenney-Herbert to strike his injection sweetly but the resulting shot from Miles Tomkins was blocked and further short corner efforts saw a failure to control the first ball so that the chances went begging.
The final 10 minutes brought a flurry of green cards (two for Cambridge and one for Harvey Edwards for failing to retreat 5 yards) and the final 5 minutes saw Coach Spencer employ Hugh Kenney-Herbert as a kicking back to try to help secure a point that the second half effort warranted but the final period saw Cambridge as the most likely scorers as a break in the final two minutes would have seen another goal conceded but for a crucial last ditch tackle from the kicking back!
Despite the improved second half display, the failure to take their chances resulted ultimately in a defeat for Bar, although the resounding defeat for Crostyx at Sudbury results in an 8th placed finish which delighted Coach Spencer at the end and will hopefully be good enough to secure Division 1 hockey next season. However unconfirmed adjustments to the league for the coming season still leaves uncertainties despite Bar finishing 3 places outside the official relegation zone.
Potters Bar 1 Cambridge City 3s 2 (HT: 1-1)
Team: M Turpin (Capt), B Balmforth, E Seaman, H Kenney-Herbert, R Li, J Edge, J Elms, G Abrey, S Tenwick, E Whybrow, T Clarke, T Marks, H Edwards, M Tomkins,
Goal: Harvey Edwards (2)
MVP: Harvey Edwards
TFC: Miles Tomkins