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Seconds to fly Sutho flag in Grand Final

Nick Hill and all the Sutho defence never stopped battling

After a weekend of tough Sydney Hockey preliminary finals for our first, second and third-grade men’s teams, seconds will be Sutho’s sole reps in next Saturday’s grand finals.

Sutho lines up against Ryde at 2 pm on the Olympic pitch at Homebush.

COVID-19 crowd restrictions have not yet been announced by Sydney Hockey, but it is expected to the similar to the past two weeks with the venue limit at 500. It is also expected that the grand finals will be live-streamed; a note will be sent to all members and information posted on our Facebook page as it is received.

Last Saturday first grade, several carrying injuries, lined up against arch-rivals Moorebank. They left absolutely left nothing in the tank. All of our Club can be proud of them, but they just came up against a better team on the day.

Second grade converted a short corner in the first half, couldn’t add to it, but kept a desperate Moorebank to nil as the suspense built and built as the clock ticked down.

Third grade went down to Glebe in extra, extra drop-off time after fighting back from 2-0 down in regulation time before tieing it up at 3-3 after 70 minutes. Don’t miss Brad’s graphic account of the dramatic action. Thanks to Tony O’Leary for his great pictures of the players in action.

Sydney Hockey Men’s Preliminary Finals

Sutho 1st grade 1 Moorebank 3

This was not an entirely unexpected result, but we were always in with a chance if we brought our A-game.

To the team’s credit, we fought the usual unrelenting battle with Moorebank.

For our younger players, it was their first experience of a first-grade finals series. They did well and will have learned the levels of toughness and competitiveness needed to bring home a future grand final win for Sutho. As they mature and learn from their peers, they will get there.

Kieran Govers’ first was a hard task after losing players of calibre from last year’s team.

It was always going to be a rebuilding year, so we did well to finish fourth; full credit to Kieran.

The senior players of the team could not have delivered more.

Their leadership, patience and skills which they tried to impart to the younger players were awesome and what they transmit as a continued culture is second to none.  We hope to retain all of them, as the younger ones need their leadership.

Some suffered injuries which would have stopped most, but they still willed themselves on. They certainly bleed blue.

Thank you from the team to our physio, Shiblee, for keeping guys on the field during the season even when it seemed impossible.

Peter Tait for his assistant coaching role, along with Jay Holley. Last but not least, “JC”, John Cowan for his continuous involvement in dissecting games on video and giving invaluable insights to the coaching staff.

We look forward to 2021, although several of the first-grade group will be coaches at Sutho’s Skills Academy runs over the next eight weeks.

Goal: Christian Halyard

And on a personal note from Kreppie:

Unfortunately my last report for the season and wishing all well and the coming festive season. As for me as Manager, it was another year of working with these great guys and love being part of their journey and being accepted as an “old” fart and their companionship.

Sutho 2nd grade 1 Moorebank 0

Another week down, and one to go.

Over the weekend our 2nd-grade boys faced off against our old rivals Moorebank in our semi-final decider, with the winner poised to go on and face the might of Ryde in the final match of the season.

Sydney Olympic Park was again home to this finals match, with no changerooms open for us to blare the festive and calming sounds of Whitney Houston, but at least the canteen was open this week, so big bonus there. After our close defeat last weekend, our team was keen to show our resilience and maintain our contention for this year’s title.

Moorebank started the game as we pretty much expected, fast-moving and counterattacking as we know them to be. Defensively we held our nerve and maintained our zonal lines, cutting off the critical long and short passes. From our defensive efforts across the whole pitch, our team began to build and slowly start to secure a foothold in the game.

Our first few attacking plays began to trouble our opposition, with our strikers getting few close shots off towards the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the strengths of our attacking and defensive midfielders really came into play, as we managed to break down Moorebank’s deep defensive line and secure a few corners. Eventually, we broke the deadlock off one expertly converted deflection by our fearless Captain, deflecting a well-placed shot past the keeper and post defenders.

Leading at half time we strived to go out into the next half and continue winning the small battles, the contests for the ball, the 50/50s. We knew we needed to remain enthused and focused if we were to maintain this slender lead and defeat this foe.

The second half commenced, and it didn’t take too long for Moorebank to essentially go for all or nothing, throwing everything short of the kitchen sink at our defence in the first few minutes. However, we held firm and composed, although there were some worrying moments which were brilliantly smothered by our keeper – and really by the entire team’s work-rate off the ball.

We pressured and hustled Moorebank to make simple mistakes and to allow us to simply making some astonishing tackles, across the whole pitch.

We emerged from this incredibly close match 1–0 victors. We aim to replicate the drive and desire we showed in this match, in next week’s season-defining encounter with Ryde.

Goal: Michael Sharkey

And, after Tina Turner’s performance pre-match intro last week, we can only turn to another diva for another Second Grade anthem. No introduction necessary for the singer or the song:

Sutho 3rd grade 2 Glebe 3 in 2nd period golden goal extra time

Pictures: Tony O’Leary

On a steamy Saturday, we headed back to Lidcombe for a Preliminary final v our old foe Glebe. The temperature was rising in the early afternoon towards 30 degrees, but the wind abated to allow the field to be properly watered and give a decent playing surface for both teams.

With the red men just pipping us into 2nd spot in the final round it was 2nd v 3rd (us) for a spot in the grand final, with 1 (Ryde) v 4 (Northern Districts) to follow our game.

Glebe was stacked with former first-grade talent, so the challenge ahead would be tough.

We had beaten them 2-0 at Cintra midway through the year, but both teams had a few noticeable changes from that affair.

With each team fielding large squads we each enjoyed long warms ups while the crowd continued to build. The Sydney Uni Hill was probably the biggest crowd we had seen all year, which only increased as the teams for the subsequent game arrived later in the day. It was strangely odd having crowd reaction again.

The Sutho plan, like last time we played them, was to stop the direct balls that they love throwing into the attacking zone, win the ball in front, and beat your opponent.

However, with a minute’s silence remembering the passing of one their team’s parents, Glebe came out full of emotion.

The first quarter was crazy fast, and despite our best efforts, they were playing frenetic hockey, hitting a post-up striker lead and deflecting 45s into the D, which we struggled to stop.

Midway through the term, one such ball was headed for a deflection on the spot before Brendo Hol launched a dive, which saved the goal, at the cost of stroke.

Aaron Nilan  (Sutho 1st grader Riley’s dad for those playing along at home) found the top of the net for 1-0 Glebe lead.

Late in the quarter, a series of mis-touches etc on a through-ball wrong-footed our defence for a touch past the keeper. It was reminiscent of the second goal UNSW scored against 2nd grade last week; with screams of joy from Glebe, and howls of anguish from Sutho.

2-0 down at quarter time. The message was clear – stay calm, work hard in the middle to pressure the players throwing the through passes and be tighter and harder at the back to spoil or receive in front. There were three quarters to go, and our team can score goals – so stay positive. And so we did.

We ground away and despite getting smashed by the umpiring (rightly or wrongly, more on that later), and so playing with 10 and even 9 players, we started to turn the possession around, and to link our midfield passing from the back together and create some pressure at their end.

Still 2-0 at half time, but we could feel a change in momentum to Sutho and tension in the Glebe camp. And so it played out.

Sutho started to dominate out wide and with early high balls created a number of chances.

With our younger, faster strikers starting to get behind them. One such raid saw us win a corner:  slip right to Brendan Sharp and bang, 2-1, as Sharpie claimed his 20th goal of the season from 11 games.

We then survived an anxious call where a penalty stroke against was reversed after umpires conferred. Instead, a yellow card was shown to the Glebe striker who poleaxed Jimmy on the way to the circle – that was close and very brave from Jimmy, fresh from his honeymoon!

Three-quarter time – keep going, we can do this.

And so it proved: Midway through the final quarter quick ball movement down the left and a cross into a congested circle saw Scotty spin and smash into the goal for 2-2 with 10 minutes to go.

The last 10 minutes was a blur, with both teams having good chances that they couldn’t convert, especially on corners.

Dan pulled off an incredible double save that almost saw him backflip from right to left to parry the lifted ball away before Brad saved on the line (all stick, sir) off a corner deflection. And so it ended 2-2.

Drop off. Both teams played the first 5 minutes with 9 players, except with a yellow card in the dying stages of normal time we started with 8 v 9 Glebe players. We held Glebe until we got back to 9, balance restored, with both teams creating opportunities but not converting.

In the second period, we dropped to 7 each, until another card for shooting after the whistle saw us reduced to 6 on 7, with only 5 field players.

After almost 80 minutes in 28-degree heat, our five players just couldn’t keep them out and with just minutes left they eventually outnumbered us. Aaron Nilan scored the winning goal, unmarked on top of the circle, he blasted past Dan.

What a game – crazy to play, not exactly a game for the purists to watch, especially as it was marred by decision-making by players and umpires alike, and subsequent arguing on and off the field by both teams and officials.

There were 9 cards in all, but it was 8-1 to Sutho, with at least three yellows to us, meaning we played about half the game with 10 players, and 9 at one stage.

A lot of those were poor discipline or bad decisions by us, a couple not so much, as well as TO troubles extending the time our suspended players were off.

While we were incredibly brave in that onslaught, if we are honest, we had to do better and be more disciplined, and in extra time drop off it cost us.

It was almost relief that finally, this season that seemed to start forever ago had ended, albeit a week short of where we wanted to be.

A good season, with excellent hockey by both players and the team, and enjoyable to play and watch.

Big thanks to everyone that got hockey up and running this year, from a club and competition stand point. Great efforts by Paul and Tim running the team, and to Brett for match day duties as manager – big thanks to each of you.

Goals – Sharpie and Scooter. Cards – everybody, even Brad.

 

 

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