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M3 Rise from the Depths

Stroud Men’s 3rd XI, sponsored by Connexus, produced a tremendous mixture of panache and bravado as they almost claimed an unlikely point after trailing 4:0 with 20 minutes to go.  Against one of the stronger sides in Marches Division 1, Stroud were always going to find life difficult.  The visitors’ athleticism and well-drilled formation was evident from the start, and they almost found the net with the first move of the game.  The Stroud forward line barely touched the ball for 10 minutes and, despite weathering a veritable storm, Stroud finally succumbed to the pressure.  Reuben Dodd in goal was understandably busy but made some fantastic saves, his confidence going up game by game.  Wotton’s exuberance got the better of them on several occasions and two goals were disallowed for fouls on the keeper. The home side’s work rate, however, was impeccable and Stroud created several opportunities to pull a goal back.  With Wotton still in the ascendance, half time could not come quick enough and Stroud went into the interval 3:0 down.

Determined to finish the match having competed to the best of their abilities, Stroud’s players buckled down and started to produce some more productive hockey.  They could not stop Wotton from extending their lead to 4:0 before they really came alive.  Perhaps it was the realisation that they had nothing to lose, other than the game, of course, but Stroud’s forwards, Tim Norman and Dom Creech, began to stretch Wotton’s defence with wider and more penetrating runs.  Bruce Rowland and Calum Norman took more control in centre midfield and this spurred on the gradually more invasive wide players, Louis Scott, Ollie Roberts and Dan Rose-Innes.  When Nigel Sherwood arrived at left mid, he found extra space, or so it appeared.  As Stroud began to wrestle the game from Wotton, so their opponents became somewhat rattled.  The first half was physical, but the second became more so, as a concoction of tiredness and semi-panic led to a couple of green cards and then a yellow for Stroud.  Not before Stroud’s persistence led to a penalty stroke, converted by acting captain Tim Norman.  Minutes later, Creech swept the ball home for Stroud’s second goal and now a rampant home side really did believe they could come back, seemingly from the dead. When Stroud were down to 10 men, Norman reverted to a roving role, but even with a man fewer, Stroud still managed to pass the ball – a significant point – even under pressure, passing works.  It was end-to-end stuff as Wotton struggled to regain a semblance of control.  To describe Stroud’s defence as resilient would be to do them a disservice.  Matt Watts, Nigel Williams, Harvey Freer, Huw Widgery and Bob Brewer worked like veritable Trojans to dissipate any potential threat.  Another barnstorming attack led to another penalty stroke for Stroud, this time converted by Creech.  None of the home side really knew how long was left, but the roar from substituted Brewer was almost as deafening as the thundering from Stroud’s feet as they relentlessly tried for an equaliser.

Epic is a good description.  Stroud’s relatively sedate warm-up games did not prepare themselves for the inevitable onslaught, but in true M3 fashion, the team rose to the occasion and did captain Bargh proud.  He was a spectator for the first half, but, sadly, he missed the superb turnaround in the second half.  Well done, lads – all for one, and one for all !

This entry was posted on 08 October 2017 at 20:57 and is filed under Match Reports | Mens 3XI. You can leave a response here.

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