Heaton Mersey at home, Wilkinson Sword - 25 Sep 2004
This week saw another North vs. South clash, this time with Heaton Mersey for the Wilkinson Sword, played between the two league winners. It wasn't looking too good pre-game for Purley with only 2 regular defence men available (out of a possible 5), and two of their best middies also out. On the other hand, Heaton Mersey also had 2 players out through injury, and a couple more unavailable, so were not at full strength either, and it looked like it would be an intriguing match.
The first quarter began with both teams having good spells of possession. As the quarter went on Purley started to gain more and more of the ball, with Jamie Tasko dominating the face-offs. The attack moved the ball patiently, making plenty of openings, and scored four goals without reply before Mersey got on the score sheet. The first quarter ended 5-1 to Purley, who looked to be in a very strong position.
Unfortunately for Purley fans, that was all she wrote. Mersey had to do something to turn this game around, and in the second quarter their defence pushed much further out, pressuring the ball at every opportunity. And it worked. Purley passes started to go astray, the patient offence of the first quarter turned to forced passes inside, and when the Purley defence had worked hard to get the ball, too many times poor clearing gave the ball straight back to Mersey. Of the twenty minutes in the second quarter, the Purple and Gold probably only had the ball for about three. However, good team defence, and excellent keeping kept them in the game with scores tied 5-5 at half time.
The second half was much of the same, though Purley did improve with each quarter. However, a combination of good defence by Mersey, and early season rustiness by Purley, meant they couldn't regain the fluidity of the first quarter. Still too often the wrong pass would be chosen, putting the next player in trouble. On a brighter note, the Purley defence were holding up well under the constant pressure. They largely stopped Mersey in settled attack, the majority of their goals coming from fast breaks or broken play, and when Mersey did manage to break through keeper Paul Terry made a number of excellent saves. Though after almost three quarters of almost constant Mersey attack, the Purley defence did tire rapidly in the last 5 minutes of the game, allowing Mersey to add four extra goals in that period, which gave them a rather flattering, though well deserved final score 6-15.
For Purley, Chris McCann had a good debut with 2 goals, and Greame Holland showed that attack men can play defence, with a fine performance as the third long-stick.
Goals: Jamie Tasko 3, Chris McCann 2, Tim Richmond 1