ST CHARLES, after a fairly unremarkable start to the season, have recently stood up and drawn two matches against two of the top sides in the province. Kearsney won their match against Maritzburg College to maintain their unbeaten record in the province.
St Charles 1 Westville 1
The Westville side was impressive and the opening exchanges certainly belonged to them. They showed patience and fantastic skills, transferring the ball around efficiently, but St Charles held firm and the visitors did not score. St Charles also had their chances but could not breach the Westville defence. Half-time arrived with no score and the game was very much anyone’s for the taking.
In the second half, St Charles took more possession and began to attack with greater determination. Blake Mingay beat the central defender after a good build-up and he pushed the ball under the keeper to give St Charles the lead. Westville then stepped up the pace and stretched the field. They intercepted a weak pass and the St Charles keeper had little chance with two attackers coming at him. He managed to make the initial save, but the Westville pair reacted quickly and finished well.
The last few minutes were very tense, with both teams throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to win the game. Neither could score again, but St Charles had done well to draw the match.
This was a good, hard game, with the visitors winning in the last movement of the game. Michaelhouse took the lead midway through the first half when Richard Ashforth scored with a reverse stick shot. Ten minutes later, Northwood equalised. The ball was whacked into the circle and Wesley Maritz deflected the ball into the goal. This was the half-time score.
The game swung from end to end in the second half. Both sides had their chances, with Northwood missing the goals rather than keeping the visiting goalie busy. Scott Wadeson hit the post twice with the ball staying out. Eventually, a good angled hit by Ashforth was deflected by a diving Wadeson, to give Michaelhouse the win.
St Charles 2
Maritzburg College 2
This match was played during the week and was nearly the shock of the season. The Saints boys immediately put pressure on the College mid-field and this opened up many opportunities for the strikers. Some end-to-end hockey resulted and both sides created chances early on. St Charles came close to scoring on a couple of occasions with their long-ball tactics. College was first to score with a well-executed short-corner variation which saw the ball deflected into the netting by Hayden Griffiths.
St Charles came straight back and when College gave the ball away in the 22-yard area, Andrew Darroch put enough pressure on the defence to find the backboard with a well taken flip into the goal. This seemed to up the ante and St Charles began to move the ball around with precision. The College mid-field was once again exposed, allowing Blake Mingay to finished a very good individual effort from an acute angle, tapping in just before the half-time whistle.
The Saints boy’s managed to hold onto the lead with some solid defence and continued to create opportunities, keeping the game fast and furious. An intense passage of play ensued and in a space of 10 minutes, tempers began to fray and four players saw five-minute suspensions. In all the drama, and with just 30 seconds to go, College were awarded a short corner after St Charles failed to retreat at a free hit. Bandile Kunene converted a scrambled effort after an initial save by the St Charles goalkeeper, to give College a share of the spoils.
Maritzburg College 1 Kearsney 2
This was always expected to be a tough match.
College opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Tim Guise-Brown scored from a penalty corner. Kearsney’s talented goalkeeper, Middleton, had saved Kearsney from going even further behind on a few occasions. Both sides had four penalty corners from which no one could convert.
Just three minutes after the break Kearsney equalised with a well-taken shot at a penalty corner. Four minutes later, they were ahead from another goal after a penalty corner.
College probably had the lion’s share of the ball but mistakes at crucial times cost them the game. It was a disappointing result from a side considered to be one of the top teams in the country, especially in front of their old boys on their reunion weekend.
Other results: Hilton 1 DHS 1; St Charles 3 Clifton 3; St Charles 5 Howick 0.