Premier League Roller Hockey:
Herne Bay United had a hard weekend end away to Middlesbrough and Manchester with all three teams wanting to keep on track for the title.
United the weekend prior to this had mixed fortunes beating Letchworth 5 – 4 which was a very important win to then lose to the National Project Under 20’s team the following day meant United took a serious dent to the 2014 – 2015 campaign and was not in the plan.
However HBU went about keeping the pressure on this weekend with two big matches and needing confident performances:
The 1st was against Middlesbrough on Saturday at 4pm.
Middlesbrough started out strong coming at United as expected and got an immediate goal within the first minute through Nic Johnson who has joined Middlesbrough from Grimsby. HBU remained composed and went about defending solidly with very few chances coming for either team. United’s Brendan Barker brought the teams level five minutes later catching Middlesbrough’s Eddie Revell, who also came across from Grimsby. Middlesbrough kept working to break United down with the majority of the possession and United trying to catch them on the counter attack, but United got caught with a good screen from Middlesbrough and Will Smith finishing well off the post with 15 minutes remaining. The scores remained 2 – 1 Middlesbrough for the rest of the half with some great goal-keeping and defending from both teams.
As the 2nd half resumed it was United this time that got immediately rewarded in just 20 seconds when Barker got his second of the game with a fortunate fall of the ball. Game was tense but Middlesbrough pulled in from again this time through Owen Stewart, but United looked dangerous on the counter and United’s Neil Austin scored a screamer to far top corner to put the teams level. From this point United never looked back and turned the tide, Middlesbrough began to tire and once they began to push for the lead the match opened up for United to catch them on the break utilizing their countering strength and though the game remained tight it was Middlesbrough now chasing the game after United’s Captain Fabio Vicente got his first and though Middlesbrough again equalized Johnson with his second of the match Vicente was quick again to respond with his second, and then HBU’s Josh Branchett on a great counter pulled a committed defender to drop the ball for Barker to finish first time and put daylight between the teams with 6 minutes remaining. United now at 6 – 4 were holding the ball looking to play the game out but after a couple of errors Middleborough’s Stewart bought it back to 6 – 5. HBU remained calm with 2 minutes left on the clock and a massive win within grasp just 5 seconds from the end whilst United held the ball Middlesbrough over committed and left Austin with a one on one with the Keeper and he coolly slotted the ball past him and securing a 7 – 5 win for United.
Day two Manchester back in the top flight with a new squad and another team with only one loss this season and looking to fight for the league was going to prove an equally as hard fixture to overcome. The rink was one United have never played on before and were unsure of the surface. This proved to be an immediate issue for a number of players struggling to over slide. Manchester as with Middlesbrough took the lead early after just four minutes through Paulo D’Attanasio. Manchester were raining in the shots and were very much looking to use the block and release a quick powerful shot from the back. But United held on this and United Tom White was quick to get United back on level terms and the match became a little bit of a slug fest in terms of attacks and goals with 3 goals within the space of a minute, Manchester taking the lead through Ricard Caneletas, Barker immediately brought the teams level and D’Attanasio again put Manchester in front. As the game became scrappier Barker got his second catching Manchester on the Counter and this was shortly followed up with a great Slap shot from United’s Captain Fabio Vicente. United now had the lead and the run of play. With goals going both ways with team fouls being quickly accumulated and this certainly proving to be the thorn in United’s side United remained in control and with the lead. 20 seconds from the end of the half a frustrated Caneletas fouled Vicente into the barrier but kicked at Vicente and making contact after the whistle and was given a blue card, following this he verbally attacked the referee as he was leaving the rink to be given a 2nd blue and sin binned for 4 minutes. Technically kicking out at the player after the whistle should have been a straight red. United’s Jordi Saldana scored for United on the power play with 5 seconds on the clock and United 7 – 5 in front.
United never looked back Eddie Mount took over in goal from Kristoff White and made some excellent saves at times when United were faltering and did so for the majority of the half. United 9 – 7 up with seven minutes to go when Mount caught Manchester player and was given a Blue Card. Kristoff was called back to the net for the rest of half and United saw out the half with goals to both teams and a 12 – 9 victory. The match had a high amount of team fouls considering the match against Middlesbrough both teams committing under 10 with no direct hits awarded, against Manchester their was 18 from United and 15 from Manchester. United came away with an important win with Manchester beating Kings Lynn the night before, games at Manchester will be high scoring and extremely difficult for any team travelling to them but following this weekend HBU are back in contention and at the top of the table.
United’s Karl Smith commented after the weekend: “The whole team can be proud of their performances this weekend. Against two tough opponents every player contributed to the victories which have put us in a great position going into the second half of the season with our fate in our own hands.
HBU’s next fixture is on the 20th December 2014 at 5pm at the Bay Sports Arena against RHC Invicta.
Team List from the weekend:
Eddie Mount, Kristoff White (gks), Jordi Saldana(1), Karl Smith, Tom White(2), Josh Branchett, David Martindale, Neil Austin(3), Fabio Vicente©(5), Brendan Barker(8),