Men's 1s Win First Derby of the Campaign
Leicester City Men’s 1s put in a battling performance to win 4-3 in the first local derby of the season.
Frustration, injustice, anger. Passion, commitment, teamwork. All were poured into Saturday’s performance from the men’s first team; each player contributed to what at times seemed more of a battle than a game of hockey.
Local pride was at stake, with this away fixture taking place not five minutes from our St Margaret’s home. Westleigh are a side we know well: in fact, several members of Leicester City men’s section used to play in their blue and yellow.
A strong side had been selected, with Matt Lilley recovered from his minor knock to anchor the midfield, and plenty of skill on show with Harry W, Hovis and Sibbo thrusting through the middle.
The game started positively, the ball being moved out wide to Graeme and Rugrat in the full-back positions, and recycled well by Liam and Jacob at centreback. Jamie and Tim were providing great industry, and allowing us to get the ball high up the pitch with great speed.
The first goal came from a typical piece of skills from Hovis, leaving three players for dead at the right of the Westleigh circle before driving along the baseline. A textbook cut-back allowed Sibbo to launch the ball top bins, and leave the young opposition keeper wondering what he had done to deserve that sort of thing.
At this point, City looked in control, with Westleigh seemingly unable to pass the ball through midfield. Unfortunately, they soon turned to their plan B, and began launching aerials to their players in space between the City midfield and defence. City were caught out two or three times this way, which allowed Westleigh to get a foothold in their half and start to take the game to them.
One such attack led to the first Westleigh goal, and another to the first of many cards handed out on the day. Perhaps the umpires thought it was City’s collective birthday? Liam was sent to the sidelines for a tackle the umpires deemed over-enthusiastic, with Graeme joining him not long later for a similar offence.
In all, City would pick up six green and one yellow over the course of the game, while Westleigh clocked five greens. There’s no doubt that it was a feisty game, but some of the decisions were greeted with raised eyebrows by those in attendance.
Anyway, back to the goals. City’s second came as Matt played the ball out left to Graeme, who waited just long enough for the Westleigh Midfield to part like the Red Sea before playing in Hovis. A beautiful one-two with Tim later, which caught the opposing defence flat footed, and Hovis rammed the ball home under the keeper.
The lead didn’t last long, with Westleigh scoring again after some slack marking. They’d make it 3-2 shortly after half-time, as City were down to 10 men, and a mix-up occurred between Harry in goal and one of his defenders. It was unfortunate, and more than the home team deserved, which renewed City’s determination to win.
The equaliser came from a piece of training ground brilliance at a short corner, with Hovis deflecting in at the right-hand post. With around six minutes to go, Tim scored what would prove to be the winner, rounding off a driving run from Hovis with a sublime flick into the side netting.
What was perhaps most pleasing about the result from a City perspective was the way that, once the fourth goal was scored, the team killed the game with good possession hockey. Jacob, Liam and Matt formed an impenetrable triangle in front of the D, and the ball was recycled left and right, back and forth to leave Westleigh chasing shadows.
When the final whistle came, there was relief, but also satisfaction at a job well done.