Match Report: Wicklow 4 - 1 Corinthians on 3rd Mar 2013

Unlucky for some, Wicklow's 13th outing this season saw Corinthians arrive in EGS determined to claw back some of the lead at the top of the league table. The weather was a far cry from the wintry showers seen against YM with the sun shining and relatively mild temperatures. In good spirits and with a full strength squad surely Wicklow would not fall to superstition... 

Wicklow lined up with Collies returning between the sticks, Forbe and Trevor being the brick walls in the centre of defence and Maccer and Eamonn taking up the left and right births. Steve, Nick Harris and Woody forming the engine in midfield with Doug and Eoin taking up their usual positions on the wings. Mr. Stewart playing his first game of 2013 provided the fire power up the centre. On the bench the stalwarts of Klaas, Conor, Ash and Nick were the impact subs with Neil Horner calling the shots from the sidelines. Peter Thompson was the man with the whistle obviously relishing the position of power!

Wicklow started the game off playing the ball from centre out to the left aiming to bring Doug into the game early. After some good early possession Doug made inroads down the left but was unable to thread the ball to a colleague and Corinthians came away with the ball on the counter.

 

Corinthians grew more and more into the game with their main focus of attack being down the left flank driving the ball long into the inside channel. The target their right wing who narrowly missed latching onto the through ball. Wicklow struggled to bring the ball out of defense with Corinthians piling on the pressure, often the ball breaking down with a player in red coming away with it. Strangely of the pace Wicklow struggled to maintain good possession with the first touch and rushed passes often leading to quick turnover.

This pressure lead to the first goal of the game, coming down the left flank as mentioned previously. A long ball left of centre was left by Trevor thinking it was destined to go over the end line only for the Corinthians right wing to get their first and slot it past Collie's near post. In truth the warning signs had been there and it was a soft goal to let in which should have been stopped several times in the build up. It being the 5th goal Wicklow had conceded all season and putting the fight up to the home team.

Battling on Wicklow were determined to get back into the game while mindful the oppostion had the quality to punish any mistakes at the back. Both teams frustrating each other with various shouts of "encouragment" dominating the airwaves. Ten minutes later after deflecting further pressure at the back Wicklow were back on parity with a well worked move through the centre and out left saw Doug score a trademark goal. Finding some room in the circle to push the ball past the keeper after some good work at the top of the circle by Mr. Stewart.

Approaching half time, the home team started to string together more passes which led to their first penalty corner of the match which ultimately broke down at the top of the D. Undetterred Wicklow continued on the offensive wining another couple of shorts, the last of which was converted to bring the score to 2-1. With the Corinthians runners out fast the play was switched to the right side and then back into the centre where Forbes slammed home to score his second of the season. That is how the scoreline remained as the whistle blew for half time with both teams unhappy with how they had performed.

Even though leading, the half time team talk for the home team resembled scenes from The Grumpy Old Men, with perhaps too much focus on what was not working. On reflection even though leading it was evident the high standards that this Wicklow team had come to expect of itself and the unwillingness to be happy with anything less than perfection. With no clear consensus on what was needed the message was simple the performance needed to be upped 100% and focus on playing simple swift passing hockey.

The second half began much the same as the first half with plenty of defending needed at the back with Corinthians pressing the team back into their own 25 leading to a couple of penalty corners in the initial ten minutes. Luckily neither of these corners were converted with Trevor blocking a shot over the bar from a prone position on the ground. Corinthians continued to press and through this period of possession the pivotal moment in the match happened, after some last ditch defending by Forbes led to a clear chance for the visitors, Collie pulling off an excellent double save to keep the score at 2-1. 

While Corinthians were rueing missing their chance to level the game, Wicklow marched upfield and doubled their lead. A swift counter attack out of defense the ball passed to Nick in centre who switched it out right and up to Stephen on the right who showed his skill levels in beating two onrushing defenders to get a shot off. The ball cannoned off the keepers pads for Eoin to meet it on the volley into the top of the net. An excellent finish by Eoin in what was a classic centre forwards poached goal of the pads.

With still plenty of time on the clock Corinthians continued to drive forward still working their right hand side and finding the byline on several occasions with the home team managing to scramble the ball out of danger, Conor working hard down the left. The came became even more niggly as a result of one of these moves, as the ball travelled across the circle Trevor turned to intercept only managing to push it over the end line. Feeling hard done by Trevor queried the ref in his usual polite manner (cough cough) for the away ref to decide for once he had a point and reversed the decision, Corinthians not at all pleased with the result.

As the game entered the final quarter the game inevitably became more stretched and once again Wicklow profited from this. This time the indefatiguable Mr. Stewart pulling off the best skill in the match with a mazey dribble leaving defenders trailing in his wake diverting the ball into Ash's path who lashed the ball into the goal at the far post for the fourth settling the game. In the final minutes another excellent break by Eoin down the right resulted in his second reported pass this season, a delightful ball across to the flick spot where Stephen flicked the ball off the onrushing keepers masks and narrowly missed the follow up on the reverse stick side. Wicklow finishing the stronger of the teams in terms of fitness until the final whistle blew continuing the amazing run of results.

 Overall the scoreline did not reflect the nature of the game and flattered Wicklow who had absorbed a lot of pressure at various points of the game. The team realising they had not performed as they have come to expect and demand of themselves left the field with no real celebration. Nevertheless it was a good win against on of the league contenders and no team should ever bemoan a 4-1 victory even if the performance had not been vintage. 

Five games left to play this season and a minimum of 9 points clear of the chasing pack with a massive goal difference Wicklow are nearing becoming the division 8 champions on 39 points. A further two wins will see them take the league title, roll on the next game!