Top-of-the-table Ben Rhydding beaten 3-0
By Adam Chard
Goals from Hardeman, Billam T & Smith put the icing on the cake in impressive team performance.
Driffield Men’s 2s 3
Ben Rhydding Men’s 2s 0
Scorers: Hardeman, Billam T, Smith (PF)
YHA League Division 2
Saturday 19th January 2019
Driffield Sports Centre, Driffield
GK. Chard ©
8. Billam T
After an uplifting win versus Wakefield, Driffield Men’s 2nd XI faced the unenviable task of beating top-of-the-table Ben Rhydding 2s. Having been put to the sword in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, Driffield probably didn’t hold out much hope of producing a result against the promotion favourites, who had an impressive record of 11 wins and just 2 defeats.
The Woldsmen, for almost the first time this season, fielded a relatively unchanged side. Andrew Wallace came into the side, playing on the left wing, whilst Michael Hirst and George Morgan both joined Ash Ewbank on the bench, giving Driffield good cover in all areas of the pitch.
Both teams took their time to settle into the game. Ben Rhydding played their usual high tempo game, not allowing Driffield to settle on the ball, although the back line of Knapton, Trowsdale, Watson and Bell were relatively untroubled in the opening exchanges.
Smith and Hardeman were beginning to show plenty of promise as a midfield partnership but were forced to work hard in the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Wallace and Tom Billam were proving the perfect outlet on the wings, allowing Tom Voase and Mike Sowersby to break dangerously into the circle.
Despite plenty of possession, chances were hard to come by for the home side. On 15 minutes, George Morgan raced onto a decisive through ball from Smith, however the Ben Rhydding keeper was just inches ahead of him and able to hack the ball clear.
Just a minute later, Ben Miller was sent to the bench for 2 minutes, after a poor challenge when tracking back.
Ben Rhydding kept probing away at the Driffield defence and came close to scoring when a wicked ball across the circle deflected off Jono Trowsdale’s stick, through Chard’s legs and just past the diving winger on the back post.
On 25 minutes, Driffield were again under pressure and Adam Chard was off his line quickly to make a save as the Ben Rhydding winger broke through on goal.
Thankfully, it was the Woldsmen who grabbed the opening goal. Some neat interchange on the edge of the circle involving Billam and Wallace, saw Tom Voase produce a great reverse stick strike, which Jack Hardeman, in the right place at the right time, touched in.
Driffield continued to defend doggedly with Danny Bell and Matthew Knapton providing experienced heads. Joe Watson was also having an impressive game, marking attackers out of the game, whilst Michael Hirst, looked like he’d never been away, doing everything that was asked of him.
Half time: Driffield 2s 1 Ben Rhydding 2s 0
After such a positive first half, Driffield could have easily taken their foot off the gas, however, they were now looking the more dominant team as Ben Rhydding began to chase an equaliser. Things were made a little harder when Tom Voase was green carded for a poor challenge.
The visitors gleefully took advantage of the numerical superiority and forced a number of penalty corners in quick succession. Each time, the 5 players put their bodies on the line and averted danger, with keeper and captain Adam Chard making a spectacular stick save from a drag flick.
As time ticked on, Driffield were able to keep rolling subs on, bringing a fresh pair of legs at vital moments. This extra energy was to prove invaluable, when they doubled their lead in the 48th minute. Patient build-up saw Danny Bell charge into the circle, his shot found Tom Billam who made no mistake from a few yards out.
It was just desserts for the Woldsmen who had worked exceedingly hard and played some excellent hockey in both halves of the pitch.
On 55 minutes, the effervescent Ben Miller, burst down the flank and charged into the circle, where he was crudely brought down by a reckless sliding challenge. After conferring, the match officials awarded a penalty flick and gave the offending player a yellow card. Willem Smith’s penalty flick was simply too powerful for the keeper who had guessed the right way.
At 3-0 up, Ben Rhydding could now only hope for a consolation, and the odds were to swing back into their favour as Tom Voase was yellow carded for not retreating at a free hit. Despite weathering further penalty corners, the Woldsmen kept their clean sheet intact and held on for perhaps one of their most important wins of the whole season.
Full time: Driffield 2s 3 Ben Rhydding 2s 0
What had seemed a virtually impossible task at the start of the day was achieved through hard work and sheer determination. The defending was brilliant, whilst the finishing was deadly. The win puts Driffield 5 points clear of the relegation zone and just 3 points behind 4th placed City of York 4s, who they visit this coming Saturday.
Man of the Match: Matthew Knapton—an absolute rock in the heart of defence.