Men's 2s give good account in narrow Bankers defeat
By Adam Chard
Despite goals from Harry Billam and Jack Hardeman, the Men's 2s suffer a 2-3 loss.
In their penultimate match of the season, Driffield Men's 2nd XI travelled to Sheffield University Bankers 4s, safe in the knowledge that they will maintain their status in the newly formed YHA Division 1.
On an atrocious day weather-wise, Driffield could call upon a strong squad of players, including Rich Bannister and Bryan Usher who make the move up from the third team. The Woldsmen shuffled the pack a little with Joe Watson moving into central defence and Tom Billam filling in on the left. Andrew Wallace and Will Needham began on the wings, with Jonathan Trowsdale playing a lone striker role.
With a fierce wind, driving rain and a brand new pitch causing problems, it was a testament to both teams that they were able to play with accuracy and precision. Indeed, Driffield's passing game looked very promising in the early stages with Willem Smith, Jack Hardeman and Harry Billam combining well in central midfield. The pace of Will Needham and the close control of Andrew Wallace put Bankers on the back foot but Driffield were unable to release that final telling ball.
At the other end, Bankers worked their way into some promising positions, however Matthew Knapton and Joe Watson showed all their experience with strong tackling. Tom Billam was providing exceptional cover at left back, turning defence into attack, whilst Michael Hirst also looked assured on the ball.
Both teams huffed and puffed but neither team looked likely to break the deadlock. It took until the 20th minute before Bankers received a rather fortuitous break. A speculative aerial ball was deflected by Tom Billam which took it up and over Joe Watson and into the path of the onrushing winger. The Sheffield player took the dropping ball first time on the half volley, flashing past Chard before hitting the underside of the bar and dropping in.
Driffield looked to get back into the game but it was Bankers who further extended their lead just a few minutes later. After winning a penalty corner, the initial ball out was mis-trapped. The resulting ball back into the circle found a Bankers player, who deflected the fast-moving strike past the diving Chard.
At 2-0 down, Driffield heads could easily have gone down, however, this team is made of sterner stuff. With some incisive counter-attacking play, the Woldsmen got themselves right back into the game on 27 minutes. A swift passing move involving George Morgan on the right found Bryan Usher in space. Usher drove into the circle and found Harry Billam who touched the pass past the despairing keeper for 2-1.
With time ticking down in the half both sides came close to grabbing further goals. Jonathan Trowsdale was unlucky with an effort from close range, whilst Adam Chard stretched all his sinews to reach a deflected shot that was sneaking into the bottom left of his goal.
Half time: Sheffield University Bankers 4s 2 Driffield 2s 1
Whilst there was no respite from the weather, Driffield refused to give up the ghost in this match and looked more dominant in the second period. After a nasty collision that had left him with blood pouring from his head, the impressive Rich Bannister took the field again, proving solid in defence.
The visitors limited Bankers to only sporadic attacks and began to build a head of steam. After forcing a penalty corner, Willem Smith was unlucky to see his drag flick well saved by the goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, Tom Billam and Andrew Wallace were proving a real thorn in Bankers' side. On several occasions, incisive balls were delivered to towards the back post, with no one quite getting that final touch.
As the game wore on, a counter-attacking goal from the home side looked more likely. However, a combination of lax marking from a sideline hit and bad fortune, resulted in a cross being turned in at the far post to make it 3-1.
Again, Driffield hit back almost immediately. After winning a long corner, the ball was played out to the ever-dangerous Matthew Knapton. His accurate pass was deftly touched past the keeper to make it 3-2.
With just under 10 minutes, the Woldsmen continued to press and a golden chance fell to Jonathan Trowsdale, whose strike was met with an equally well-timed save from the keeper. Driffield kept up the pressure right until the closing seconds, when a Tom Billam strike went agonisingly wide of the left post.
Full time: Sheffield University Bankers 4s 3 Driffield 2s 2
Despite a narrow defeat against a team who lie fourth in the table, Driffield played some fast and accurate passing hockey at times—which, in such poor weather conditions, was nothing short of a miracle! With several younger players like George Morgan and Bryan Usher impressing, the future certainly looks bright for Driffield.
In their final match of the season, the Woldsmen welcome second-placed Ramgharia to the East Riding. After losing 1-5 earlier in the season, Driffield will be out for revenge.
Man of the Match: Tom Billam—his speed and tenacity helped turn defence into attack on numerous occasions.
As always, thanks go to sponsors YorkWold PigPro and the Spread Eagle for post-match teas.