Hitchin away, Prem - 17 Dec 2005
Purley arrived at a freezing Hitchin with 16 players, and 17 by half time, but even with this size squad Purley only managed to bring 2 regular long sticks. Chris Spence stepped into the breach and had a fine game in defence, and likewise Jesse O'Hanley as long stick middie. Because of the standard of the opposition Purley decided to sit two of their players out. It's a long way to go not to play (sorry guys), but at least they had the consolation of watching a thrilling match, as Purley ended the year with a clinical 11-8 victory to end Hitchin's 100% record.
The first quarter was almost almost a reverse of the two sides previous encounter. This time it was Purley with the patient offence causing Hitchin to foul, and the Purley man-up converted their first two opportunites to give Purley the early lead. Fine face-off work by Luke Smith, Nigel Tasko and Mike Barrett meant Purley had plenty of possession, and they dominated the quarter ending 4-0 up.
Hitchin managed to reduce the deficit to 5-2 at the half, and continued their good work into the third when they quickly drew to within one goal. That was the cue for Tim Richmond to step up, and two quick goals from solo efforts restored the deficit, which took the fire out of Hitchin's comeback and the quarter ended 7-4.
Initially in the final quarter Purley controlled the ball as they tried to run out the clock. With Hitchin chasing the ball Purley were able to exploit gaps in the defence. It was at this point that the quarter turned into rather a goal-fest. Graeme Holland started it with a goal from Purley, and Hitchin replied almost immediately from the ensuing face-off, but any thoughts of a comeback were rapidly quenched as it was Purley's time to score direct from the face. Two more goals from Purley gave them a six goal lead until three quick fire goals at the death saw Hitchin make the score a more respectable 11-8.
Dan Heighway must have the record for shot speed of the day - the rocket he hit the crossbar with must have flewn at least a mile up in the air (there's even a picture below). After 3 years out with a knee injury it's taken a while for Dave Arnot to get completely back to 100%, but fine performances in the last two games have shown he's back to his best. His renewed partnership with Jamie Tasko, in his fourth game back also after knee surgery, has meant the Purley attack has more potenency. If Purley can manage to turn out this callibre squad every week they should be able to cause anyone in the Premiership trouble.
Goals: Dave Arnot 3, Jamie Tasko 2, Tim Richmond 2, Dan Heighway 2, Graeme Holland 2
Photos by Nicki Holland.