The U13's Tandridge team, sponsored this season by FM Conway, travelled the short distance to Westerham to begin their campaign for the 2016/2017 season. It’s a new team who have had just a couple of friendly outings so far but it wasn’t an auspicious start. A couple of injuries and delayed registrations meant that they could not field a full quota of eleven players and only ten were able to take the field for Sevenoaks, great thanks go to Ollie Brooks for dashing from earlier hockey training to the ground. The opponents on the other hand had a squad of fifteen to call upon. The instructions were for communication, concentration and organisation if they were going to see out successfully the 70 minutes ahead of them.
No doubt the Westerham were emboldened by the apparent weakness of the Sevenoaks team. Numerical advantage would surely show before long. They started well enough and had the better of the opening salvos. They attacked confidently but Sevenoaks battled hard Theo Collingwood and Charlie Karsak dealing with the repeated attacks with vigour. Sevenoaks got forward on the break and had a couple of chances to take the lead notably Dan Knowles hitting the bar but it was the home team that took the lead, really against the run of play as Sevenoaks were ion the ascendancy at that time. A slip on the left and the forwards were through. They had two bites of the cherry and the ball squirmed past Danny Varley in the Sevenoaks net.
The disappointment was palpable but it spurred the team forward and before long they were on equal terms. Joe Benfield lofted the ball forward to Marcus Overd who performed a typical incisive run down the left wing. Looking up he sharply played in Riley Moore who showed great composure to slot the ball in the net for a deserved equaliser.
Sevenoaks were largely in control for the rest of the half and could have had a penalty just before half-time but their appeal for hand ball was turned down. They trooped off at the whistle for a well deserved rest having carried out their coaches instructions to the letter.
The second half started a little like the first with Westerham in the ascendancy, Sevenoaks took a while to get into their stride and couldn’t really get control of the ball but 10 minutes in Overd got the ball on the left, he attacked the right back but the ball went loose, Riley Moore picked it up but again the ball spun loose, it fell to Overd who turned and finished firmly to put the visitors in front.
A brief period of Westerham pressure followed but their attacks were dealt with comfortably by the Sevenoaks back four and speculative high balls were gathered with ease by Varley. Sevenoaks broke quickly and could have been two up. A great run by Moore deserved a goal but the ball slid agonisingly past the post. They began to exert more and more control and Westerham were merely spectators for much of the rest of the game. Ty Chambers just ran and ran for the whole game and their left back will be having nightmares this week from trying to control this tricky winger.
Another corner soon followed and the ball found its way to Dan Knowles whose superb header bounced off the post and away. Dan’s luck soon changed when the ball came to him outside the box and he smashed it over the goalkeeper to make it three to Sevenoaks. The home team tried hard after that but it was all over really even with 15 minutes to go. They did not look like scoring and Sevenoaks did not look like they were going to let them. They had further chances but continued with the form they showed all game. A mature and organised showing from all ten players and a gained a very well deserved victory.
This bodes well for the remainder of the season when registrations are complete and injured players return. They will have harder games but for now they will enjoy the taste of a well-earned victory to get the season going.