5-Star Southend Dethrone Royals

Published on 30th Sep 2020 by Rachel Garfirth

M3 5-3 London Royals

London Royals: 3

Southend Men’s 3s: 5 (Walsh 18’, 28’, 46’, 57’, 61’)

Southend Men’s 3rd team enjoyed a winning return to Division 8SE hockey following their highly successful promotion campaign the previous season. The Blues faced London Royals, a team that had proved a bit of a bogey side in the last couple of seasons with no wins in four previous meetings.

Mickey Walsh notched all 5 goals in a topsy-turvy game in which the hosts, London Royals, more than played their part.

Southend started the game at the Redbridge Leisure Arena well, strong in the tackle and pressing high up the pitch. However, the home side stunned the visitors when a crisp counter attack was finished off with a clean finish across debut ‘keeper Gary Webber and into the far corner.

Within three minutes, Southend found the equaliser against the run of play when Keith Arnold’s long ball found Walsh in acres of space. With the ‘keeper still to beat, he ghosted into the area before dispatching a fine effort from the right into the left side of the goal.

Buoyed by the leveller, Southend pushed on and created another opening from a short corner. Walsh making no mistake taking a touch before slotting into the near post, through a crowd of defenders.

Upon taking the lead for the first time in the game, Southend’s defence held firm for the remaining minutes of the half. Defender Eddie ‘Spider-Man’ Bedini - who was an injury concern before the match due to a mysterious spider bite - caught the London Royals frontline with his sticky web, offering first-class protection alongside Ty Barrett and Martin Allen.

Half time: 1-2

Southend didn’t begin the second half with the same intensity as they had previously displayed and were punished by a Royals forward who fired in an opportunistic effort to draw level once more.

With the match in the balance, Southend pushed again with Jon Chase powering though the middle of the park and won another short corner. Following Steve Roach’s injection, Walsh stepped up and converted his hat trick with another clinical effort low past the despairing ‘keeper.

The Blues added a fourth soon after, when Keith Arnold’s through ball found Walsh 5 yards out. Making no mistake, the forward swept under the ‘keeper with an astute finish to put clear daylight between the teams.

With the extra breathing space, Southend began to express themselves more fluidly. Jeremy Puncher twisted and turned through a crowd of defenders before winning a short corner. Walsh completed his magnificent 5-goal haul with a deflected strike that wrong footed the ‘keeper. The striker, who bagged 40 goals in the last campaign, took his season’s total to 9 in three games.

With the last chance of the match, London Royals forced a rare short corner. After a scramble on the goal line, the ball was prodded home to reduce the deficit back to two with the last touch on an enthralling encounter.

Full time: 3-5

Man of the Match went to Eddie ‘Spider-Man’ Bedini, a constant thorn in the side of the London Royals attack, thwarting numerous attacks before they had a chance to materialise.

Captain Ian Richardson was pleased to see his side come away with the win: “I’m chuffed with the result, even though we were not at our fluent best the season is young and we have time to improve. It feels good to get three points on the board early on and before we really get going. I’m pleased for Gary Webber, Dan Bisgrove and the Arnolds making their league debuts and all playing a part in this winning return to action.”

The skipper added: “This is always a tough fixture and I believe this is our first victory against them in the last five attempts so we will take it. These are games we have to win to be in with a shot of a second successive promotion this time around!”

Report by Jeremy Puncher