Basingstoke Bluefins Men’s Tournament Report:

Culdrose 2011

Team sheet:

 

1. Mike Sheath

2. Kevin Taylor

3. Chris ‘Martin’ Wintle

5. Gavin Bridger

7. Jason Milton

9. Trace Morgan

10. Jake ‘TJ’ Cleverley

11. Allan Fairhead

13. Matt ‘I’ll drink anything’ Girle

Day 1

 

Game 1

 

Basingstoke 2-1 Barnstaple

 

Scorers: A. Fairhead (II)

 

Back for another year, Basingstoke took to the pool in a slightly better state than what they managed the year before, with most of the team waking up with a relatively clear head. Perhaps because of this, Basingstoke started their first game (and the second game of the tournament) considerably well, with Jake Cleverley winning the swim off twice, and turning provider for one of two trademark backhands from Allan Fairhead, showing a well timed and well executed return to form. Due to the very short halves that were being played (5 minutes each way) it was vital to score a good few goals early on, to prevent having to fight an uphill struggle in a very short space of time, and this is what Basingstoke did here. By leaving Barnstaple with a deficit of two goals, it gave them a task that was too much to complete in the space of the game, meaning they only had time to pull one back before they ran out of time.

 

Game 2

 

Basingstoke 3-2 Jersey

 

Scorers: A. Fairhead (II), G. Bridger (I)

Perhaps the most important game of the day for Basingstoke, as Jerseyalways turns up to the tournament as the team to beat. The biggest motivator for the team however was most likely the presence of two ex-Basingstoke players lining up in the pool for Jersey. However, Basingstoke knew it could be done, as at this same tournament exactly one year previously, Basingstoke notched up their only win of the day against Jersey. With a very specific game plan detailed by the coach Gerry Lay, Basingstoke knew what had to be done, but still could not help going a goal down at the start. Nevertheless, Basingstoke showed great teamwork, and discipline to fight back, and scored 3 unanswered goals, and also a fourth which was controversially disallowed. The game was not without its turning points though, as Jersey won a penalty at a crucial time, when the game could have gone either way. The penalty taker stepped up, and it was one of the ex-Basingstoke players who fancied his luck against an in-form keeper, Mike Sheath. For an instant, the whole pool and spectators seemed to go quiet, before the referee blew his whistle. A split second later, it was clear that keeper Sheath had guessed right, and palmed away the stinging shot that was heading into the bottom corner, causing elation from theBasingstoke players and the Ladies team who were supporting from the sidelines. A fantastic result for Basingstoke, one which gave them 3 crucial points and set them on their way to sealing a place in one of the games taking place the day after, an achievement the team didn’t manage last year.

Game 3

Basingstoke 0-2 Southampton Uni

 

Fresh into the pool after two successive wins, Basingstokelined up against Southampton Uni (appearing in this tournament for the first time) ready to go out and earn another 3 points. However, their spirits took a knock when the team started the game, and found that the good form they had found in the last two matches wasn’t present in this one. Passes that needed to be faster, more powerful, and more direct were falling short and losing possession, something which in such a short game will really hamper the chances of the team making the mistakes. It wasn’t down to the whole team however, they were still some good performances from players like Gavin Bridger and Chris Wintle, but the team play and good, coordinated passing wasn’t there in this match, meaningBasingstoke slipped to their first defeat of the tournament.

Game 4

Basingstoke 3-0 Royal Navy

Scorers: A. Fairhead (II), K. Taylor (I)

 

Basingstoke needed to combat their loss in the previous match with a win here, to make sure that they stood a good chance of at least getting into the 3rd/4th place play off final on the next day. However, between them and this victory stood the Royal Navy. The game started well, the faults that were present in the previous match were ironed out in this one, with some good passing from player-chairman Jason Milton. True to their game plan, Basingstoke went out and scored a couple of good goals courtesy of Allan Fairhead, to leave the Navy trailing. The Navy weren’t giving up though, and started to push the Basingstoke players further and further back down the pool, with a few good shots only kept out by the reliable hands of Mike Sheath, and some very good defending by Matthew Girle, who was doing exactly what the coach told him to, to great effect. Fortunately, Basingstoke hit back, and effectively killed the game off for the Navy with a superbly taken goal from Kevin Taylor. Eventually, the game finished, givingBasingstoke perhaps their best result of the day, scoring 3 unanswered goals and keeping a clean sheet with no goals conceded.

Game 5

Basingstoke 0-3 Newquay

On a high from their previous game, Basingstokefinished this one looking at the wrong end of the same scoreline they themselves had achieved in the previous match. Basingstokewere effectively outplayed in this match, as Newquay were going through the day without losing a game, and they continued this tradition. They came close to conceding though, when Kevin Taylor narrowly missed a back hand shot, and after some good goal assistance work from Matt Girle, another shot came close, but not close enough. Keeper Mike Sheath was kept very busy in this match, and did well to deny Newquay with a diving save, and then three more successive saves before Newquay finally found a way through. Basingstoke however could not find the same accuracy, as proven by vice-captain Trace Morgan who did extremely well to make himself some space and take a few shots, but when one hit the post, and another was saved well by the keeper, it was clear this was not to be Basingstoke’s game.

Game 6

 

Basingstoke 2-3 Devonport

 

Scorers: T. Morgan (I), A. Fairhead (I)

The final game of the day arrived, with Basingstokescheduled to play the team who up until this point had not won any of their games. Basingstokeneeded a high scoring victory to make the final on the next day, as either a loss or a win by not enough goals would leave them playing in the 3rd/4th play off final. Basingstoke perhaps went out into the game slightly more relaxed than they should have been, as Devonport stunned them with a tenacity that wasn’t expected, and was hard to adjust to. Basingstoke were playing catch up for the whole match, as they always manage to pull it even after going a goal down. However, this time the shortened game length worked against them, and their wasn’t enough time to pull back a third goal, even though both scorers Trace Morgan and Allan Fairhead were working well together. This meant Basingstoke slipped to their third defeat, and finished the day with a 50% win record, considerably higher than the year before, leaving their finished position on the Saturday as 4th place, meaning they would play Jersey in the 3rd/4th place play off on the next day.

Day 2

 

3rd/4th Place Play off Final

 

Basingstoke 3-4 Jersey

Scorers: A. Fairhead (II), G. Bridger (I)

Basingstoke andJerseyboth got into the pool feeling slightly worse for wear – evidence of the night before being great fun and a good laugh for everyone.Basingstoke’s form had slipped towards the end of the day before, but they wanted to find it again to secure a second win over jersey in the same weekend, and a podium finish at the end of the weekend. However, it was not to be, in a hotly contested match in whichJerseyunfortunately just came out on top.Basingstokestill could feel proud of themselves however, as they made their name known as a very good team who when they played well, had what it takes to overcome the toughest of teams. Perhaps the most gratifying statistic however is the improvement from the year before, showing just how well the team can play, and proving to the other teams that they can and do play just as well as the others.

Final Position: 4th

Top Goalscorers:

1st Allan Fairhead (9)

2nd Gavin Bridger (2)

3rd Trace Morgan (1)

3rd Kevin Taylor (1)

Feedback:

 

From the captain, Mike Sheath: ‘What a fantastic weekend. I’m really pleased at how well we did, and I think the team did well to have a great time Friday night, and still turn up on the Saturday and play as well as we did. The first Jersey game and the Navy game for me shows just how well we could play as a team, and it was a great feeling and a real morale boost for the team to come away from both of those matches with really good results. Now we have to get back to training and hit the ground running to build on this great weekend. Finally, a big well done to Jake Cleverly, it’s not easy being Team Junior!

From the vice captain, Trace Morgan: excellent social weekend, no great expectations polo wise, we just missed out on the final, which wasn’t too fussed about playing as we wouldnt have beaten Newquay, we did rely maybe too much on Alan but with the small numbers we had, we didn’t have much choice, I thought the end result was ok but it could have been better, maybe next year we’ll have a stronger team.’

From the chairman, Jason Milton: ‘The annual Culdrose tour once again proved to be a great weekend all around both in terms of the polo played and the time spent socialising.

The men’s team went down there with no expectations and with the only objective being to make it through to play on the Sunday (one team does not make it for the play offs) after a poor show last year where we came dead last.

After winning our first three games we had already surpassed our expectations and were slowly gaining in confidence, so we won the next one and things were looking very positive for us. We then played the one unbeaten team and lost however a win by five goals in the last would have put us in the final. Sadly we could not achieve this (there were no other score lines that big during the day so it was a very talk order anyway!) but with the way everyone felt on the Sunday after a second night camping in the pouring rain (yes we will put it down to that!?) a full game might have been a little beyond us.

A third and fourth play off and a very narrow loss in the last minute meant a fourth place finish which was beyond our expectations.

A great team effort with some good solid play from the whole team, all of which makes us all more positive about next season now.

I think that everyone got on with each other, supported each other throughout and generally had a good time despite the best efforts of the weather to dampen our spirits! A little socialising on the Friday night and off to bed ready for a very early start on the Saturday. A full and long day of polo which you will have seen the reports on and then two very tired teams sat around and tried not to fall asleep. Cue the social secretary to get the evening started with some light hearted games and the help of the evening’s entertainer, Kev! With the help of some food and drink everyone started to perk up and it ended up being a great night. Then off to bed in the pouring rain to try and keep dry and warm which some managed better than others! Mikey the dedicated goalie even managed to practice his treading water in his tent!

The next day we were all up and off to somewhere drier and warmer, the swimming pool! After our play off games and some breakfast it was time for the long drive home in the rain but at least it was in the knowledge that a good time was had by all. A great weekend and already looking forward to next year. We will just have to make sue that someone remembers to pack the sunshine!’

Thank you and well done to all who played!

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