Venue: Haberdashers School, Elstree.
Saturday 16th September, 13.00
Worthing 8, Birmingham 13
Quarter scores; – 2-2, 4-2, 0-4, 2-5
It was a difficult build up to this game with a number of our established squad members unavailable for a variety of reasons and we were particularly hampered by the late withdrawal of our ever reliable first choice goalkeeper Marc Guimera due to work commitments. That said, we brought in 17 year old Henry Elwell-Sutton to make his BWPL debut in goal and he had an outstanding match producing a number of fine saves that indicate that he has a really promising future. We also weren’t helped by fellow debutant Stefan Berechet feeling very unwell which meant he was only able to play a limited amount in the match.
We made an excellent start in the match and our tactics were proving very successful in denying Birmingham many shooting opportunities. As previously mentioned, Henry produced some fine saves when required and we also always looked dangerous on the counter attack.
The game turned on a controversial decision when the officials excluded Joao for the remainder of the match in the second quarter which may well have been a case of mistaken identity. His loss, and the subsequent foul trouble that the team found itself in, took its toll in the second half and we struggled to deal with the bigger, older and stronger Birmingham team
Although we never like losing games we should take a great number of positives from how we played for long periods. We had a very young team in the water and Akos made his national league debut at 14 years of age and he was unlucky not to score with a chance late in the game.
Scorers; – Richard 3, Ben 2, Toby 2, George 1.
Exclusions; – Richard 3, Joao 3, Alastair 3, Toby 2, Stefan 1.
Sunday 17th September, 10.00
Worthing 11, Castleford 10
Quarter scores; – 3-3, 3-2, 0-4, 5-1
Quite simply, one of the most exciting games of national league water polo that we have ever been involved with which had and incredible climax when we came from behind to snatch a dramatic winner.
With Stefan unavailable because of illness we only started with a squad of 10 and we soon lost Alastair in the first period when he was excluded for the remainder of the match for misconduct.
The game ebbed and flowed in the first half with the teams trading goals but a poor third quarter, when tiredness was becoming a factor, meant that we started the final period trailing 6-9. The first goal was always going to be important and Richard quickly reduced the deficit shortly followed by another good finish by George. At 8-9 we were definitely back in the game but Castleford took a two goal lead again with a penalty that Henry nearly saved.
Joao scored to make the score 9-10 and then again on a man-up play to level the match 10-10 with just over two minutes remaining. In a frantic finish puntuated by a flurry of time outs, Castleford missed an opportunity to take the lead on a man-up after George was excluded and we regained possession with just under 30 seconds left.
Toby worked hard at centre forward and with 9 seconds left he won an exclusion foul and with the clock running down, Joao produced a cool finish to score with 2 seconds left securing the win.
This was a terrific win and all of the squad made significant contributions but I would like to make a special mention of Henry who came in at short notice to play in goal. He made a number of significant saves including a penalty, often at key times in the match, and at 17 years of age he looks to have a very bright future.
Scorers; – Joao 4, George 3, Ben 2, Richard 1, Jacob 1.
Exclusions; – Alastair 3, Ben 2, Jacob 2, George 1, Richard 1, Joao 1, Toby 1.
Squad in Full; – Henry Elwell-Sutton, George Wood, Archy Burnell, Richard Hooper, Alastair Hardinge, Ben Curtis, Joao Martins, Toby Underwood, Jacob Nash, Stefan Berechet & Akos Hausknecht.
The BWPL campaign will continue when we make the long trip to Lancaster on 7th-8th October.