From guest reporter, Morty!
"The Press" is a mystical thing to me. What is it, exactly?
Firstly, I think of a great little boozer in the Cambridge backstreets behind Parker's Piece - of the "Free" variety.
Or perhaps it is a device to extract the vital nectar from an apple to deliver a cool refreshing summer apple juice, and eventually, cider?
Or, of course, it could be the combined collective journalistic establishment?
But on a dank October afternoon in Cambridge, it finally made sense to me, as Nomads M2s implemented “The Press” to stifle the life out of visitors Wellingborough's hockey troubadours.
It starts at the front, this “Press”. It requires fitness and intelligence from its personnel.
In the absence of those attributes, Nomads tried a good mix of youth and sage experience. The latter provided by esteemed stalwarts, Paul and Mel. Strangely, or perhaps sensibly, the Skipper sacked himself and added some of the former element, in the guises of Luca and George, to provide a little more in the legs department.
It seemed to work. Both Paul and Mel have never been shy about telling others around them how they should play their hockey, and George has been well coached by Ravi in these matters, clearly. With Luca adding pace and strength, “The Press” seemed to finally take some shape.
Enough about the forwards though, apparently the midfielders have a role to play too. And the whole thing is all completely pointless if your defence and ‘keeper ship goals every time “The Press” is breached.
And so to the game.
Nomads cunningly began the game with 10 on the pitch - in a gracious effort to match the opposition's lone late arrival. So despite having 13 at the warm up stage the game began with 10 Nomads. No point in rushing these things after all, eh George, and so our sub, Ellis, found himself drafted into action after about 5 seconds of action, whilst George completed his lengthy pre-match preparation routine.
Not perturbed by starting off the pitch, Ellis ran on enthusiastically, promptly robbing the ball from the shell shocked 'Borough player in the opening play, sprinting into the D, committing the keeper, then presenting the ball to a grateful Luca to slot home with his first touch of the game. Nice.
Ellis was then immediately subbed off for (the now ready) George - you can't have too much of a good thing. [Ed: Part 1 of the Ellis Masterclass complete]
Despite this unexpected, yet lovely, turn of events, Wellingborough then proceeded to provide Nomads with their most testing period of the match. Looking sharp and dangerous in attack, they caused problems and provided enough evidence to suggest this was going to be no walkover.
After some tit-for-tat exchanges, a period of pressure ended with the mercurial young Dom slotting home. Passes were sticking, “The Press” was in rude health and a third goal resulted from that rare thing, a successful short corner. In reality, it came from a penalty flick confidently dispatched by Paul, after Will's lifted attempt from a short corner found a defender's foot on the line.
3-0 at the break, but the confidence of the Nomads' play,” the Press”, and the number of chances created, suggested this was in no way flattering to the performance.
So we discussed "The Press" a little more in the half time huddle. I still didn't really understand it, but others seemed to, and whatever it means it was clearly working, so more of the same please.
The second half eventually yielded a couple more terrific goals for Nomads. But only after our defence of Will, Spence, Barry and young Leo smoothly rebuffed every attempt that Wellingborough threw our way. Will marauded down the right flank in attack as well as defence, and Spence seemed to get himself to the ball ahead of the 'borough strikers every time they went long. Leo had a handful to cope with on the right side of 'borough's attack, but did it really well with his usual unflustered efficiency. And Barry just did what Barry does.
In the middle, Tim and Rick held fort and transferred ball smoothly around the field whilst young guns, Dom and Ellis provided cutting thrust to augment the hard working front 3.
In the end, the goals came for Mel (at last, but deserved) - a precision through ball from Luca finding him free on their 25; a run at the keeper, and sublime flick into the far corner of the net lead to rapturous appreciation from his teammates.
Then, appropriately, a flowing team move starting with Leo, far back on the left touchline, and ranging across and around the pitch, ended with George slotting home from an unlikely angle (much to Paul’s chagrin, unmarked on the far post), which completed the scoring. It’s amazing what quick, accurate transfer of the ball to a team-mate in space can do.
Just to emphasise the all-round team nature of the performance, there was still time for John to show what he is made of, and perfectly rebuff a couple of late 'Borough attacks at the goal.
So ended the best M2's performance of the season, and the challenge now remains to back this up from week to week.
It seems a little churlish to have a man of the match when everyone, to a man, played their part quite excellently. Some votes went to Ellis for his rapier darts, and all round play in the middle of the park; others to Will for his dominance and all round performance up and down that right hand side; and Spence in the centre back position was excellent and had his best game for a while. But really – any one of the 13 could lay a claim to it.
However “The Press” won it from my perspective. Whatever it may be, it was excellent!
DoD challenges from Ellis (I’ll wear my astros to the pub), and Mel (I’ll wear my astros and shorts to the pub) for kit-packing omissions, always comical!
Finally, plaudits to our 2 excellent umpires, Woody and (import) Keith. And our esteemed Skipper, who sacrificed himself for the team, yet still made the pub to complete the formalities and drink beer in celebration of a fine win! Let’s back it up next week.