St John's School, Leatherhead Boys 1st XI vs Seaford College
On: Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017
Venue: at Home
Only two years ago, St John's were totally outclassed by a Seaford side brimming with talent, nous and skill. Now, while the Sussex outfit might have lost their German imports, they remain a school which prides itself on their hockey and compete on a strong circuit. A 1-1 draw, then, would seem a great result for the Eagles but, in truth, John's were disappointed not to claim all the spoils.
Sitting in a half-court press, John's nullified almost all of Seaford's attacks and for fifty minutes completely dominated. In the first half, Seaford barely found their way past the halfway line as John's disciplined defence stole ball after ball. Kiely, Freeman and Kerslake were excellent in leading the press and pounced on any loose pass. From there, they launched their attack with Will Ferguson often pulling the strings. After missing a couple of glorious opportunities it eventually fell to Will Freeman to open the scoring as he slipped the ball under the advancing 'keeper from close range. The pattern continued for the entire half with Seaford becoming increasingly frustrated but John's could not add to their lead. The usual zest in front of goal deserted them as timidity took over and, despite their dominance, they went into the break just one goal to the good.
The second half started as the first ended with Seaford struggling to come to terms with their hosts' structure. Olly Penfold was playing a strong hand in midfield for the home side, spreading the ball out of contact to offer room up front. It looked certain that John's would stretch their lead, not least when Kiely was played in on the back post only to see a desperate diving block deny what was surely the winning goal.
John's deserved to be home and dry but Seaford clung on and, as the game wore on, they started to find more joy. With five on the clock, Penfold made one mistake and the visiting forwards capitalised, racing forward before firing past Bulkeley into the far corner. Having been in control for so long, it was now John's who had to hold on as panic set in and it was the home side who were happy to see the final whistle sound to end the game at 1-1.
Despite the late panic, John's should have won the game. It was frustrating not to take a major scalp but the boys should be proud of their performance. The step forward has been significant and they will hope for one final showing versus Pangbourne on Saturday.