After a disappointing result against Hertford in Gameweek 8, the Ricky 1st XI travelled to Blueharts; a side sitting 2 places below them in the table. The team were looking to continue a much improved run of form in their bid to climb up the Div5SW standings.
The game started well for the away team, with Rickmansworth having the lion’s share of possession and creating numerous excellent chances on goal. It must have felt like a short corner defending training session for the Blueharts defence as Ricky won close to a dozen short corners in the first 25 minutes alone. However, despite strong injections from Ewan and controlled trapping from Toby, Sam’s drag flicks were either wide of the post or saved by the Blueharts keeper. Two attempts in particular were excellently saved – one by the keeper with a diving stick save and another by the man on the post who performed a textbook cricket block to deny a certain goal.
Further opportunities came and went, as golden chances were spurned by Ewan, Jack and Jeff. The defensive back line were untroubled, Will was controlling the entire midfield, Toby and Jeff were flying down the flanks, it was all going Ricky’s way – they were doing everything right but the ball would simply not go in.
Unfortunately for Ricky, their profligacy was compounded on the stroke of half time as, with one of their first short corners of the match, Blueharts were able to fire a crisp shot into the bottom left corner. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
At half time, a spirited Will gathered his troops and gave a rousing speech. Despite the scoreline, it was one of the best performances of the season. If the pattern of play continued, Ricky were still on course to win this game…
Now, in what still remains a mystery, Will and Jack had something at half time…. Whatever it was, I need it. Was it a pack of wine gums, a Lucozade, a couple of oranges, a beer? Because they came out in the second half like 2 men possessed; they were everywhere. Will continued to dominate the midfield, but began surging drives with the ball – beating 2, 3, 4 men at a time with penetrating runs deep into the opposition half. Jack on the other hand, began shrugging off the Blueharts defenders like they weren’t there and made equally powerful runs down both channels. After little more than 5 minutes, Rickmansworth found their equalizer. An incredible reverse tackle from Will won the ball in midfield, he played the ball wide to Toby, who swept it into Jack who (after beating all 3 of the central defenders with a surging left-to-right run) fired a powerful shot past the Blueharts keeper. This was the moment that, truth be told, had been coming all game.
From the moment the ball struck the backboard, the Blueharts team capitulated. They went from Atletico Madrid to Arsenal in a flash, suddenly the pace and skill of the Rickmansworth forward line was too much for them and the goals came thick and fast. Goals were scored by Ewan (who finished proficiently from a cross by Jack, after a surging run down the entire right side), Toby and a second from Jack. All the goals scored as a result of some fast flowing, dynamic hockey.
Disappointed about squandering the opportunity to extend his goal scoring run to 4 games in a row, Sam picked up a harsh yellow 5 minutes from time after he gave the Blueharts umpire some free officiating tips. After numerous questionable calls throughout the game from said umpire, the straw that broke the camel’s back came after Ewan scored an excellent goal. He received a pass on the edge of the D from Will, turned strong and fired a powerful shot past the keeper. Unfortunately, the umpire noticed Ewan push the defender (despite him being the wrong side to push him and having both his hands on his stick) and deemed it a no-goal and a Blueharts free hit. After Sam asked very politely (definitely without swearing…) how this was possible, the umpire responded with the yellow card he had been dying to produce all match.
Despite some late substitutions and improved play from the home side the game finished 4-1 to Rickmansworth. It was a fantastic performance by the Rickmansworth players, who all gave everything and it was a result which could (and maybe should) have been a lot more comprehensive than 4-1.