Ellerbeck hat trick secures promotion!
By Mike Johnson
Following on from last week’s fantastic league title win for the Ladies 1s, the Men’s 2nd XI found themselves one win away from promotion....
Following on from last week’s fantastic league title win for Reigate Priory Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI, Reigate Priory Men’s 2nd XI found themselves one win away from a guaranteed second place finish and promotion from Surrey Division 3. The challenge? To beat Sanderstead 1st XI – a side who held the coveted second place spot for the vast majority of the season.
With the wise words of Captain/Goalkeeper Andy Cobb and Club Chairman Andy Porter in the ears of the Priory men, the game got underway. The first fifteen minutes saw Priory dominate possession and apply pressure to the Sanderstead defence through some great attacking play led by Scott Trainor and Chris Walker - pressure that was finally rewarded with a converted penalty corner. Warren Ellerbeck deceived the Sanderstead defensive line with a drag flick seemingly aimed at the top right before a quick roll of the wrists slotted it into the bottom left (0-1).
Sanderstead responded strongly, pushing their midfield up high and giving their skilful and quick strike pair room to run out and test the Priory defence. Despite the best efforts of a lighting quick James Wigzell, their efforts were rewarded with a well taken penalty corner to level the game (1-1).
Sanderstead continued to press their attack, driving players through the centre of the park and giving centre back pairing Mike Johnson and Andy Porter no small amount of work to do. Only the constant terrier like efforts of Nick Green kept the Sanderstead attacks in check and when they were able to get through, the heroic reflex saves and charging one-on-one tackles of Andy Cobb in goal kept the scoreline steady. It was clear however, that Priory were struggling to get the ball out of their own half.
Enter the fray Tom Crees who despite still recovering from a broken hand brought himself on and into a defensive midfield position. Linking up with Porter, Green, Will Goulding at left midfield and Ashley Wilmot at right, Crees helped Priory regain control.
Pressure piled upon pressure for the Priory defenders in the opening of the second half. Passion and frustration spilled over and Ellerbeck receive a green card during the half time break to reduce Priory to just ten men for a brief stint with. Ellerbeck returned and promptly atoned for his sins, delivering a fantastic cross that Wigzell swept into the Sanderstead goal following a superbly timed run. Such was his delight that he found time during his celebration to make his way to the sideline and deliver a kiss to one of the spectators - it was later clarified that the victim of this incident was in fact the future Mrs Wigzell (1-2).
Sanderstead responded strongly once again, driving down both sidelines in an effort to get in behind the Priory defence. Another superb performance from Marcus Kyte who not only put in several key tackles, also delivered some of the best passes of the game kept things in check to our left and the excellent partnership of Wigzell and Wilmot did the same to our right. The superb stick skills of Trainor, Walker and Goulding kept the pressure on Sanderstead and Priory once again found themselves in the ascendancy until Trainor was forced off with a suspected broken hand.
To quite literally add insult to injury, Priory were once again reduced to ten men through a yellow card. Yet more pressure for the Priory men, resulting in another round of great defensive play supported by a lone striker in the form of Greg Lawson who somehow always managed to be available as a much needed outlet.
Ellerbeck returned from his suspension and did what was now becoming habit. Following a superb piece of individual skill, Walker delivered a beautiful through ball to him and he took no hesitation in smashing the ball into the backboard leaving the Sanderstead keeper no chance (1-3).
With four minutes to go, Sanderstead showed no signs of giving up and with their forwards linking up an excellent series of passes they worked their way round the increasingly tired Priory back line and slotted the ball away (2-3). The nerves were jangling as the seconds ticked away. It was with great relief and delight from the rest of the squad that Ellerbeck decided to complete his vital hat-trick and man-of-the match accolade through grabbing a final goal-scoring opportunity. A 4-2 victory away from home against a tough opposition, as well as securing promotion, was a fitting end to a fantastic season for Reigate Priory Hockey Club Mens 2XI.
Squad : Cobb (Captain), Kyte, Johnson, Porter, Wigzell, Goulding, Ellerbeck, Green, Crees, Wilmot, Lawson, Walker, Trainor, Dumas