Match Report: St Jame's Gate 0 - 1 Wicklow on 30th Mar 2013

Going into the 15th League game of the season, Wicklow were left needing 1 point to clinch the league title. The team was under no illusions about the performance needed to get a point against the third placed team. Following a disjointed game against Three Rock in midweek (which was abandoned due to weather conditions), would Wicklow be able to raise their game and get a result?

The squad arrived at the pitch in good spirits, determined to get back to the level of hockey they displayed earlier in the season. Following a chat led by Forbes focusing on getting back to basics, the team lined up with Collie in goals, David Curran, Trevor, Forbes and Eamonn in defence. Midfield were Steve, Neil and Victor with Doug, Nick and Eoin up front. Richard Woodroofe taking up the mantle of referree with Peter Thompson returning to the playing staff for the first time in months.

The Gate started the game off going on the attack up their right hand side, Wicklow breaking the play down and getting some good posession of their own. A good move down the right resulting in the ball flashing across the oppositions circle unfortunately with no Wicklow player able to get on the end of it. In turn St. James gate were pressing down the Wicklow left making good gains towards the circle in what was becoming a fiercly contested midfield.

Midway through the first half the first incident of note happened, with neither side enamoured with some of the refereeing decisions a disputed wide led to the home side voicing their opinions quite vociferously towards Trevor. As the author would like to point out he did request the plaintiffs to calm down and play the game however in response to a query about the Wicklow referee, Trevor did point out he was not completely happy with how the decisions had been going on the other side. Unfortunately this was picked up by the Jame's Gate referee who determined Trevor needed a rest for a few minutes and issued a Green Card.

The game continued on with both side battling for the upper hand, after being restored back to 11 men Wicklow won a couple of penalty corners but were unable to convert with the Keeper a great save off his glove on one. As the game neared half time there was little to choose between the two teams, Neil Horner doing trojan work in closing down his opposite number in the middle of the park. As the teams swapped ends the score remained 0 - 0.

Overall Wicklow had had the better of the chances just failing to get that elusive goal turning in a much improved performance with some good sweeping moves at time. However St. James Gate were well in the game forcing a number of corners and one penalty corner. The half time talk was simple, keep doing the same and try to keep moving the ball and maintaining possession.

The second period continued in the same fashion as the first both teams pressing each other well making it difficult to gain any prolonged possession. Doug made some good runs down the left wing, Forbes making some outstanding tackles bringing the oppositions advances to an abrubt halt. The defence was once again holding solid and in particular Eamonn leading the way being quicker to the ball than his opponent and turning defence into attack linking well with Victor and Neil. As the game started to stretch more space opened up on the pitch and from swift switch of play from the right to the left Wicklow forced a penalty corner. Once again this was not converted and will definitely be an area of focus for the Minor Cup final at the end of April.

Wicklow made good use of the bench with Conor and Klaas coming onto the pitch in the left back and left wing births and the ever present Pete making a cameo appearance in the closing stages. Midway through the second half Trevor found himslf in the wars again with a delightful ball across the back from Forbes having just sufficient pace to allow Gates centre forward to make a crunching tackle, shoulder charging Trevor to the ground for a free to Wicklow. Gate continued to give a 100% and drove forward effectively down the right flank but were just unable to deliver the ball across the circle.

Frustration showed on both sides and soon Gate were reduced to 10 men as their left wing deciding to give his own referee a piece of his mind which was only going to end one way, that was a second green card of the game. Wicklow immediately used this to their advantage going on the attack with Nick narrowly missing a good opportunity to open the scoring. Then as Gate were restored to the full complement Wicklow took the lead, through some great work by Eoin with a shot cannoning off the keepers pads and falling to Neil at the top of the circle. Neil slammed home the ball leading to great celebrations amongst the team.

As the game entered the final ten minutes Gate went all out looking for the equaliser pinning Wicklow back into their half, the Wicklow team were in no mood to concede. Repeatedly Jame's Gate pressed down their right, Wicklow defending the circle with Conor/Pete and Forbes dealing with everything thrown at them. It seemd like an eternity before the final whistle went with Wicklow winning the Division 8 title for the second time in 3 seasons. The 100% record still intact after 15 games with a possible 3 left to play, and the Minor cup final still to come at the end of April this could be the most successful campaign to date for the club.