UEA - Undefeated...Even Away!
By Mark Farmer-Wright
UEA - Undefeated...Even Away!
The men's 1st took a back-to-back trip away to UEA, aware that snakebites can be deadly! It was only this time last season that the men's 1sts dropped points...Could the same fate await?!... Surely not!
An incredibly hot autumn day saw flocks of students hitting the stands at UEA to greet an eager gang of UEA boys hit the pitch. The Norfolk men with all of 8 of Ash's balls warmed up timidly.
The whistle went, and a fit, well drilled, UEA 2nd team began distributing the ball elegantly much to the displeasure of Farmer-Wright and Sayer who busily hurried the defence like old work dogs.
Not much was to come of the first half, North Norfolk worked hard in the heat with Miles, Sadler-Barker, Barker, Whitby and a deep Sayer working hard to prevent moves developing from the midfield...But through all the work became disjointed.
An early short corner saw "Jimmy's Balls" (short corner routine) flashed Infront of a young crowd. With no doubt whatsoever, Jimmy thrust his balls into the top right hand corner of the net...Only to have the umpire disapprove of the legality of his actions, interpreting a double tap as a strike as opposed to a stroke.
The defence of Hart, Whitwood and Green (in a new role of LB) did well to prevent any chances in their own D through some impressive last ditch challenges and determination. Short corners however were a destined outcome, and after solidly defending a few, were defenceless to a supposed "famous reverse shot" of a local UEA hero who buried emphatically in the bottom corner of Bartram's goal. Whitwood however, saw that this local hero would see no more action after the lower end of his stick nibbled at the hero's knuckles leading him to walk off the pitch.
At the other end, Whitby and Barker terrorised with Sayer working tirelessly with them. Chances arose for Farmer-Wright who's misplaced feet and minor pressure of defence could only see him flash wide. Sayer again created a chance for Farmer-Wright (as is now routine) with a strike to the far post as though rehearsed, but an aware keeper of 5 years time of higher education (and counting) managed to get the deftest of touches to take the ball away from a sliding Farmer.
1-0 down, for the first time this season the men's 1st look to rally at the cries of their captain. Phil Hall, new to the sport, was brought on for a debut. Having skipped out on the 3rds and 2nds, much was demanding of this towering, statue of a man...and he didn't disappoint, Hall carried the ball confidently down the right, feeding Sayer ball after ball, whilst providing as a firm blockade in the middle.
North Norfolk continued to mount pressure, with Miles being brought down time and time again, and Farmer-Wright unable to beat the man-child of a keeper yet again at close range. Not only that, North Norfolk had to endure continued pressure, with Hart, Whitwood and Green having to fight under every challenge. Not only that, but Dale Bartram had to shot block on multiple occasions to the "Oooo's" and "Aaaa's" of the crowd recently released from their parents prison, which only made him feel more hard (not like that...maybe?) And confident, as illustrated by the undercut from all of 5 yards which he palmed for a side hit-in as cool as a freshly fitted air conditioning unit.
The game progressed in this grooling up-and-down matter, before climaxing in a North Norfolk short corner. With "Jimmy's Balls" and "Hendo's Nose" all but broken it was left to the skipper Ben Miles (we don't have a name for this yet!) to step up to the plate. He all but caved into an onrushing wave of fired up students however, the ball fell the Farmer-Wright who had been shown up by someone twice his weight and half his age all day...With his head down and nothing left to lose his scoop/dragged the ball into the strangest gap to find the backboard...1-1 with 6 minutes to go.
A couple more chances arose for UEA but a defiant and pumped Bartram stood tall between the sticks, not having anyone take away the joy of his pint yet to come. Final whistle...The men's 1sts remained undefeated...Even away from home!
Special mentions go to Phil Hall, who played his first (highish level) competitive game and didn't look even a miniscule out of place, whilst Ash Green returning to the 1's in a new found position found a home for his pin point bullet hits (if only the forwards could handle them!) Sadler-Barker who worked tirelessly, running, diving and bleeding for the team and Bartram who continues to receive plaudets wherever he goes for his TV diving saves and shot stoppers...A belated happy birthday to Sayer who worryingly got another year older and had a match tea buffet to celebrate (mini sausage rolls, cocktail sausages and crisps...What a dream!)