St Charles College first hockey team fought back from a 2-0 halftime deficit against Maritzburg College and then 3-0 early in the second half, to 3-2 with 12 minutes left before the 4-2 goal 5 from the end sealed a deserved victory for the Red Army.
This much-anticipated local derby took place in front of a sizeable crowd around Saints Astro and the first 10 minutes presented a tussle for midfield supremacy.
In the last five minutes of the first quarter (match in four 15-minute chukkas) the match began to loosen up with several close calls at either end after nifty build-up.
The new trend continued early in the second quarter and Maritzburg College went 1-0 up in the match’s 19th minute when the first penalty corner saw Red Army captain Pio fire low to the keeper’s right.
Two well-worked moves down the right were nullified by the Saints defence as Maritzburg College began to gain the ascendancy.
Midway through the second quarter, the second Red Army penalty corner saw a double-castle attacking formation at the top of the strike zone.
The corner injection went to the furthest castle out right and Pio’s hip-high flick flew past the wrong side of the keeper’s left-hand post.
As the second-quarter clock ticked along, the Saints defence found themselves absorbing considerable pressure.
Just 23 seconds to halftime a through-ball was slotted into the strike zone and the alert Mthalane got the deflection goal to put the Red Army into a healthy 2-0 lead at the changeover, capping off an excellent second quarter for the Red Black and White.
Early in the third quarter another neat move into the strike zone witnessed a fine deflection goal by the Red Army’s Ngcobo (3-0).
Perhaps a key factor at this stage was that the Maritzburg College defence were successful in breaking down Saints attacks in the attacking third, leaving the Red Army’s SA Schools 2018 goalkeeper Ngcongo with little to do.
Three-and-a-half minutes to the close of the third quarter (42nd match minute) and against the run of play, the hardworking Saints earned their first penalty corner (PC).
Maritzburg College lost two defenders for breaking early and with just 2 PC defenders now on hand to support keeper Ngcongo, this represented a golden opportunity for the Saints to pull a goal back.
And so it was, with SCC skipper Church (I think) getting the goal-line breaker (3-1).
The game was now on, but would the Saints have the goods to eliminate the Red Army’s two-goal advantage?
Early into the fourth and final quarter the Saints earned their second PC – it was another SCC match-changing moment that had to come off.
The initial PC drag-flick shot was blocked but Saints quickly recovered to effect a deflection goal (not sure who the scorer was) and at 3-2 Red Army with 12 minutes left this derby was there for the taking.
Outstanding stick-and-ball skills at close quarters by MC striker Prinsloo set up a penalty corner but the goalshot chance was superbly intercepted and cleared by Saints skipper Church before a rapid-fire MC backhand shot sailed over the crossbar shortly after.
Perhaps a key derby differentiator was that Maritzburg College’s technical skills were a touch above that of the Saints lads, and top skills by the Red Army’s Veenstra won a penalty corner opportunity with 5 match minutes left.
The initial strike was flung low to the keeper’s right and corner injector Jackson was on hand to pop in the Red Army’s 4-2 goal off the shot-stopper’s pads.
Great skills by Ngcobo created space for this striker’s shot but the turf-fizzer drilled into the near-post sideboard.
At the other end superb close control by SCC’s Mollentze extracted a fine goal-save by Red Army keeper Ngcobo off the striker’s shot.
And Game Ovaaaaa!
St Charles College 2 Maritzburg College 4
A fair outcome.