Carnegie Colts v Livingston & West Lothian 1st XI
The first match against Livingston having been re-scheduled to a mutually agreeable date in December meant this was the first encounter between the two sides in the league. Livingston who were currently solidly on the bottom of the table turned up for the game with no goalkeeper and opted to play the game with 11 out-field players, one of whom would have the dubious role of being the kicking back…
With ‘Doc’, Stuart and Paul missing from the squad, Geraint Jones was drafted in to provide some strength in the midfield attack and much needed legs for the defensive duties that would undoubtedly be required. Brian Docherty, the usual stand in for Stuart who was still out with an injury, was unavailable this week. Robbie Pollock playing at the mid-day slot kindly offered his services and braved the elements to stay behind and stand between the posts for us.
The previous week’s 9-0 demolition of Inverleith showed the importance of attacking structure, movement off the ball and passing around the opposition to get into high percentage goal scoring positions. The instructions were clear; use the width, exploit the baselines and capitalise on crosses and cut backs. Unfortunately, with the prospect of the opposition having no goalkeeper to protect their goal, all the instructions, plans and attacking formations practiced during the previous weeks games were completely forgotten, resulting in pointless route one hockey. Time after time the Colts tried to run straight at the Livingston defence, sometimes trying to beat 3 or 4 players instead of playing the simple passes that were being made the previous week. It took an unlucky clearance from the Livingston kicking back straight to Sean Byron’s front stick for the Colts to finally put the ball in the back of the net. Not a pretty goal, nor was it a well worked goal but a goal none the less. Colts 1-0
Livingston defended the rest of the half admirably, the kicking back having a blinder of a game was all over that ‘D’ blocking shots and generally making a nuisance of himself. Livingston not only defended their area well but managed a good number of promising attacks in the first half. Their quick and skilful youths challenging the oldsters in the Colts defence every time they attacked. With only four minutes to go in the first half, one of these attacks finally bore fruit and an excellent cross from the left hand side baseline found an un-marked forward at the back post to slot the ball home to take the game into half time honours even. Livingston 1-1
Needless to say the half time team yell was both animated and stern. The instructions were simple.
- Pass the ball
- Stop attacking through the middle of the pitch
- Pass the ball
- Get the ball to the base lines
- Pass the ball
- SHOOT AS SOON AS YOU GET IN THE D, DON’T WALK IT UP TO THE GOAL LINE!
- Pass the ball
(There may have been some expletives involved; these have been edited out for publication…)
It was as if a different team stepped onto the pitch for the second half. The passing increased tenfold, the support play from midfield allowed the forwards to step higher and play began to take shape and look dangerous in the Livingston 25 yard area.
A good attack down the left hand side of the pitch behind the Livingston defence to the baseline found a defenders foot in the ‘D’ and the Colts were awarded the first penalty corner, just eight minutes into the second half. No goalkeeper between the posts meant Finlay Conroy was tasked with placing a high drag flick to challenge the Livingston kicking back standing on the goal line. Finlay launched the ball from the top of the ‘D’ shoulder height straight at the poor kicking back who all credit to him managed to get his stick to the ball, but due to the sheer power of the flick could only deflect the ball onto the underside of his own crossbar above his head before it flashed around the roof of the net. Colts 2-1
As the game progressed, the Colts started to gain the upper hand and began pressing the Livingston defence harder, but this time with purpose and thought. The fourth goal of the game went the way of the Colts again from a penalty corner. The call was the same, high drag flick, the only change to the set-up was Stevie Fyfe as the injector. We will call what happened next a ‘planned alternative’… Instead of the ball being injected to the top of the ‘D’, Stevie managed to hook the ball in the head of his stick as he dragged the ball which flew like a rocket diagonally across the ‘D’ straight to the front stick of Sean Byron standing 6 yards right of the stick stopper! After a quick adjustment, Sean took one touch into the area and unleashed a bullet through the onrushing Livingston defensive team smashing it into the back boards roughly 10” from the floor past the shins of the panicked kicking back. Colts 3-1
Two minutes later as Livingston were mounting a promising attack down the right, there was a commotion in the Livingston 25 yard line with three rather large Livingston defenders and an angry looking Alan Jones. The umpire (on the word of one of the Livingston players) brandished a yellow card to Alan for “Aggressive behaviour” and signalled that it was to be for 10 minutes!
Bolstered by this, Livingston started to pile on the pressure and finally got their reward from an excellent reverse stick shot that somehow crept through Robbie’s padding as he was bearing down on the shooter to bring the deficit back to 1. Livingston 2-3
Livingstons hope of mounting a comeback however was dealt a blow only five minutes later as Finlay Conroy latched onto a great pass at the top of the circle, took one step into the ‘D’ and smashed the ball home to regain the 2 goal advantage with only 7 minutes remaining in the match. Colts 4-2
The game was put beyond Livingston in the dying minutes of the game by Alan Jones who after being kicked, punched, scratched, bitten, poked, tripped and generally mounted by the entire Livingston defence broke through the other side and calmly pushed the ball home into the empty net with a rather smug look on his face (Well, I think the look was smug…) Colts 5-2
Although the Colts walked away from this game with all 3 points, the performance of the first half was a sobering realisation to everyone that no matter how good you are as an individual, you cannot win games on your own. The only way to win is to play as a team and stick to the game plan. Next week we are away to CALA 3’s at Meggetland, where the lessons learned from this game will be put into practice.
Final score – Carnegie Colts 5, Livingston & West Lothian 1st XI 2