Sonning 5s pull victory from the jaws of defeat
5s return to top of the league
Anyone watching the first half of this game could be forgiven for wondering how this Sonning 5s team spent their Christmas and New Year. The first league game after the winter break was a real Jekyll and Hyde affair.
The half started brightly enough with the defence of Mist, Boyden and Cutler, reliable as ever sweeping up Thame attacks with some ease. In goal Rhys Page barely had any work to do for the first ten minutes. Sonning even managed to score the first goal after some dynamic wing play from Barrett and Weiss, first in winning the ball and then forcing the Thame defence on to the back foot to allow Grant Strudley to finish neatly through the keeper's legs from the right hand side of goal on 10 minutes. However a succession of poor passes and missed tackles allowed Thame to establish a foothold. One series of incidents allowed Thame their first penalty corner of the game which was flicked neatly into the bottom left hand corner by the striker for the equaliser. The Thame midfield then began to pressure Sonning into more mistakes and a fine breakaway goal from the Thame right midfielder gave the away team a 2-1 halftime lead.
A reaction was needed from the home side who started the game second in the league but staring at only their second defeat of this campaign. The catalyst was Neil Pipe who within minutes of the restart chased down a break from the Thame central midfielder and with a roar (unprintable in this family edition) emphatically won the ball and started Sonning moving forward. This seemed to waken the lion and there was a more recognisable crispness to the passing. It was from one such move that Strudley bagged his second of the game after wheeling away from the last defender who unfortunately miscontrolled a flick pass into the ‘D’…a neat finish from about 8 yards out, which is a greater distance than all Grant Strudley's goals put together this season.
The next goal would be key and after a great deal of pressure came a decisive moment when Sonning were awarded only their 2nd penalty corner of the game on 55 minutes. In a move straight out of the coaching manual Hadders dragged flicked the ball just outside the right hand post for Goodall, primed and ready, to deflect in. Two good efforts from Weiss followed before another penalty corner was awarded. This time the Thame defence were slow out of the blocks and Hadders flicked the ball into the bottom left hand corner from 14 yards out. Thame continued to press but the midfield of skipper Phippard, Hill, Barrett, Hadders and Goodall worked very hard to protect the back three.
The game was effectively won with 6 minutes to go when another penalty corner was pushed onto a Thame defenders foot on the line. There was a long debate amongst players and umpires as the first strike on goal had been a mishit and looked a little high but the stroke was awarded. Hadland stepped up and converted low to the right even though the keeper had guessed correctly and it had got the inside of his left pad onto the shot.