Improvement but same outcome

Greg Proctor - Madras hockey
Greg Proctor - Madras hockey

Madras FP 1st XI.................0

Grove Menzieshill 3rd XI....2

After the dismal end to season 2015-16 when Madras failed to record a single victory and only scored four goals in their fixtures after Christmas, the players in the squad for Saturday were more than ready for a new start.

They faced up to Grove Menzieshill third XI at University Park.

The pre-match signs were promising: new players from the local schools and from the University, a full squad and a sunny afternoon.

By the end of the afternoon although the performance was much improved, it was clear that some of the old failings, most importantly their inability to score, remain to be fixed.

Captain Theo Upton unsurprisingly chose to go with a defensive formation at the start of the game with two defensive midfielders, Bartholomew Upton and Ian Colwell sitting in front of the back four.

The approach had the desired effect of limiting Grove’s opportunities but made it difficult for Madras to get numbers forward when they gained possession.

Greg Proctor at centre back also made a significant contribution with his dogged marking of the mobile Grove attackers.

Disappointingly for the Madras side, all the intensity that had been shown by the team in the first half disappeared at the start of the second as the overall lack of fitness took its toll.

As the Madras backline became more exposed, they were fortunate early on only to be penalised by a penalty corner when a Grove attacker was unceremoniously upended by Upton in goal.

Grove moved ahead when a very scrappy shot from just inside the circle was deflected by Proctor into the goal rather than away.

Within five minutes, Grove went two ahead.

Upton kicked clear a dangerous ball in the circle only for it to fall to a Grove player who was happy to flick it past Upton into the net to seal the win.