In their final match of the 2019 hockey season Westville Boys took on Kearsney College on old boys day. In a fixture which saw the hosts seldom troubled for any extended period of time, a totally dominant display, lead to a 3-1 victory for the home team.
Kearsney started off the game at a frenetic pace as they harried and hassled the Westville players into unusual mistakes in the opening minutes.
The strategy seemed a good one as Westville play a slow, deliberate, possession based game which forces their opponents to cover allot of ground to cover passing lanes as the move the ball from side to side.
Kearsney, for their part, were successful in halting any Westville flow as they tore round the 3 schools astro.
For all their endeavour, though, they couldn’t quite get enough of the ball to create goal scoring chances of their own.
The quality of the Westville team soon started to show, however, as Ethan Matkovich and Wynand Steynberg gained control of the tempo of the game.
Their passing and great linking with Luke Allen and Randal Govender pushed Kearsney further and further back until the visitors were well and truly pinned in their half for large portions of the 1st half.
The first opportunity for a goal came in the 5th minute as a strong drive by Govender earned Westville a PC. A Luke Allen drag flick flashed past the left upright of Christopher Kiggen, a warning shot to the boys from Kearsney that this wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon.
With 3 seconds left in the 1st chukka a driving run from Govender earned the griffins another PC. The resultant save by Hayden De Kock must go do as one of the stops of the season. A Matkovich drag flick missile was incredibly swatted away on the goal line a few inches from De Kocks face.
A great piece of skill and life preservation from the defender.
The 2nd chukka had a familiar pattern to it as Westville’s calm, measured, approach eventually lead to a passing lane for the ball to get up field.
In the 23rd minute came their next chance as some great individual work from Joshua Davies created a little space for Joshua Korte to fire over the Kearsney crossbar.
That the half ended at 0-0 doesn’t reflect the total control that Westville had on the match at this stage. But, to Kearsneys credit, they had defended manfully up to this point in keeping Westville at bay.
The Griffins dominance was rewarded, however, shortly after the break, as a great run from Korte earned Westville a PC in the 31st minute. A simple push out to the 1st castle and a Allen drag flick found the back of the goal. 1-0 to the hosts.
Kearsney College, who had been content on sitting fairly deep on defence, immediately sprang into life and starting pressing little a bit higher up the field in search of a equaliser. Westville who had been in total control of the tempo of the match got a bit to casual in possession and were disposed deep in their half giving Calvin Davis a chance to shoot just wide.
Kearsney, sensing that Westville had lost a little concentration, continued to play with a lot more aggression and hunger. It was during one of the brighter passages of play from Kearsney that a brilliant 40 metre slap stick pass from Chase Kelly found James Maguire open on the edge of the D. With only the keeper to beat the striker unfortunately scuffed his shot.
In the 48th minute Kearsney were rewarded for their efforts with a goal of their own after some great work in the D by Menzi Mhlungu earned Kearsney a PC.
If there is anyone who has been a rock for the Kearsney team this season it has to be captain, Chase Kelly. The PC specialist has a bullet drag flick and has phenomenal strike rate at short corners.
With another one of his thunderbolts crashing into the back of the goal he levelled the scores at 1-1. Great rewards for the Kearsney boys as they came out with a great deal of intent after the Westville score.
With Kearsney playing such a high line in search of goals it left acres of space in the midfield and it was only a matter of time until the Westville passing game clicked into gear.
In the 52 minute a breakout lead by Korte headed up the field with Randal Govender and Mazwi Meyiwa in support. Korte bounced through the defence like a pinball as would be defenders were summarily dispatched as he sped determinedly up field.
Just as he was about to be enveloped a by a swarm of defenders he deftly passed to an unmarked Govender to his left.
The midfielder, showing a great degree of poise, pirouetted away from the advancing goalkeeper before rolling a simple pass to Meyiwa who tapped the ball into the empty goal making the score 2-1 to the hosts.
Credit must go to Kearsney who, in spite of conceding a goal, continued to press a high line in search of an equaliser. The Westville midfield and backs were just to calm and controlled though.
They picked their way through the Kearsney pressure with Govender, Davies and Korte being simply outstanding in this stanza as they moved purposefully up field.
It was the another midfielder, Jarrod Slanely who earned the PC for the 3rd goal in the 55th minute after a great lay off from Davies.
A drag out to the 1st castle set the table for Matkovich to drill a powerful drag flick to the keepers left making the score 3-1 to the hosts.
The remainder of the game turned into a bit of a procession as the Westville boys relished the last 5 minutes of their school hockey careers.
That this team finished undefeated is a testament to the quality of this bunch of boys and the work of Cameron Mackay, the names of Matkovitch, Steynberg, Allen, Govender, Korte and Davies will be forever remembered as being part of one of Westvilles finest 1st XI hockey sides.