The Men’s Hockey first team, made it seven wins from seven games, after a fantastic comeback from 1-3 down, to win the game against Brunel firsts, 5-3. The result means that the team stays top of the Southern Eastern 2A league with 21 points, reinforcing their push for promotion.
Portsmouth started the game confidently from the push off, and began with a chance being blazed across the front of goal.
However, the first few encounters turned sour when Portsmouth gave away an early penalty corner to Brunel. Afierce shot from the edge of the D was initially saved but it was not cleared quick enough and a Brunel player lifted the ball high into the net for 1-0.
A tirade of shouts and complaints followed as the Pompey defence were angered with their performance at the penalty corner.
It was the first example of Brunel’s intense first half start, but would this early exertion affect them later in the game? They continued this intense at the restart, sensing the displeasure of the home side.
Portsmouth, however were not having any of it and broke on the counter to set up their first chance of the match. Portsmouth scrambled the ball into the corner of the D and won a penalty corner for their efforts. But the fortunes of the attempt were not like Brunel’s earlier chance and the defence closed I quickly to shepherd the ball back up the pitch.
Against the run of play, Brunel surged forward but the subsequent attempt on goal flew well wide. The intensity continued however, as Portsmouth were very lucky from a later corner. The first shot was parried well, once again by the goalkeeper but this time the follow up shot was skied.
Then in an almost carbon copy of the visitors first goal, a shot from the penalty corner was well served, but once again the Brunel strikers pounced on the ball before the Portsmouth defence and Brunel took a two goal lead.
Once again, Portsmouth seemed dejected at the restart, but the fire was still in the belly and the first attack of the restart resulted in another penalty corner for the home side. Learning from their earlier mistakes, the powerful shot from Speke deflected off a defender’s hand and an opportunist Pompey player followed it up to make the score 2-1.
After the goal, Portsmouth’s spirits were lifted as they began to ramp the pressure up, but Brunel were wise to their attack and nicked the ball back. Anticipating half time, Portsmouth’s heads dropped and Brunel’s attacker was allowed a free shot to make the score 3-1 to the visitors. A difficult end to the first half for Portsmouth, the team talk would have to be inspiring.
Brunel began tat the push off with the same fight and intensity that they had shown in the first half. The visitors, trying to consolidate their, lead begin to sit lower down the pitch however, to prevent Portsmouth from getting back into the game.
However, they had forgotten that Portsmouth, up until this point, had scored 44 goals in the league and that the opposing side have had a keen nose for goal on the counter. This lapse in concentration from Brunel ended with a counter that they very almost defended, but the free ball was pounced on and lifted high into the roof of the net. 3-2, the comeback was on.
The players sensed this demise of the Brunel defence and began to ramp the pressure up on the visitors. A penalty corner was won during a lapse in concentration by Brunel. The ball cam out quickly and was valiantly blocked right on the line. Portsmouth were getting their eye in, and they were getting closer.
The dye was well and truly cast at this point. Brunel were to sit back in their own half and defend, whilst Portsmouth came forward with a barrage of attacks.
The next period of play was both frustrating but promising for the league leaders. The main tactic seemed to be looking for any chance of a short or penalty corner by breaking into the D and heading straight for the by-line. Speke was especially impressive in the period.
Frustration was building within the Portsmouth ranks as attack after attack fell short of the goal. Finally, one last break foiled the defence and led to a short corner. The home sides resilience was rewarded, and the ball was shanked into the bottom corner to draw the scores level.
The roles in the game began to reverse, Portsmouth’s frustration turned to desire and Brunel’s began ruing their earlier missed chances. The visitors became more and more aware of the mounting strength of Portsmouth, who had benched players and supporters alike spurring them on to the win.
Their hard work was rewarded and the comeback completed during a dramatic finish, as Portsmouth converted from another penalty corner. Captain Shahani looked over from the touchline: “This’ll make a good story,” he says.
A last ditch penalty would bring up a fifth goal for the home side as they continue their imperious form. The final whistle blew shortly after as a noticeably elated home side respectfully congratulated the plucky visitors. Ultimately, Brunel will regret their intense first half efforts, and Portsmouth will bottle the tenacity shown in the second half.
After the match, Shahani spoke about the fantastic comeback, and the guile they needed at half time, he said: “We got a bit of a kick up our backside by our coach and then we went out there, scored 4 goals and won the game from 3 – 1 down.”
The team remain top of the league on 21 points, and will play Portsmouth’s seconds and Surrey firsts, before finishing the season at second place Reading.