No winners in basement battle

Friday 30th January 2009 12:00 am

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ABERGAVENNY'S basement battle with Whitchurch ended unfavourably for all involved on the weekend, as both teams limped away with a measly point after failing to break the deadlock of a match destined to end in a draw.

Abergavenny were able to field a strong team, and for a change enjoyed an excess of defenders in the shape of Tom Johnsone, Alex Morgan, John Meredith and Tom O Leary in the centre position. Issac Pritchard completed the defensive line up with a start on the sub's bench.

The midfield consisted of Geraint Davies, Kevin Phillips, Peter Hewinson and Alex Mac, with Chris Bu and Tony Clements up front.

However, Abergavenny were under pressure from their own making right from the off. With players out of position and unsure of their role, the first 10 minutes allowed the visitors a great deal of quality possession.

Following a successful period of defence, Abergavenny composed themselves as the game opened out and won a series of short corners, that although well taken, were also well kept out by the visiting keeper.

The visiting keeper again proved his worth shortly after, when he saved an excellent shot from Davies.

Despite the pressure, Abergavenny were the first to concede, as the Whitchurch centre forward, a youngster with an obvious future in the game, ran into the D.

With the Aber defence shadowing the attacking play, he tried a difficult reverse stick lifting shot, which slammed past keeper and captain Pete Bartlet for a goal that showed a rare degree of quality.

The remainder of the first half saw some sweet hockey, with the play being chased down and little time on the ball.

A hard ball in from Davies during a set piece allowed Clement to avoid the stubborn defence and get Aber's first, but a short corner enabled Whitchurch to get their noses back in front just before the end of the half, with a soft goal knocked in off the keeper's pads.

The second half saw the play become increasingly open as players tired, especially in the midfield.

O'Leary, now playing up front and partnering Clement took full advantage of the space, with some fantastic passing around the right hand flanks.

With the Whitchurch defence in complete disarray, O' Leary was able to get Aber's second with a good reverse pass that beat the keeper.

Working to get a winning goal, Whitchurch now poured forward, opening up space behind their own defence.

This space was used to good effect by Chris Bu, displaying his normal stick skill and touch hockey to good effect.

But it was the Aber defence that really took the strain, with a nasty bump to Alex Morgan seeing him retire from the field, and some aggressive challenges on both Johnsone and Meredith.

It was probably Bartlett that saw a draw safely in the bag with a pair of outstanding saves from short corners.

Tiredness eventually saw the game became progressively more unruly with some difficult umpiring decisions on both sides of the pitch, and it was almost inevitable that the game ended on a penalty corner decision, as Abergavenny were fouled in the Whitchurch D.

The end result was about right, but a point each will do little for either team, who must now both look towards life in the lower division next year.

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