Our third away game of this season’s Premier League and a final trip to Morden Pool as the pool will be replaced with a new 25m pool in the autumn, dimly lit, six lanes wide & shallow at one end and with only one ref to see into the gloom it would be an interesting evening against a team that knew how to play to the conditions.
Team: Cameron Baker, Karen Basu (GK), Danny Davis, Peter Djordjic, Alun Dorrington, Will Eggleton, Andy Holt, Adam Page, John Pickford, Peter Pickford (GK), George Sadler.
The match started with Watford defending the shallow end, but Peter Pickford was equal to Sutton’s efforts to exploit the taller goal, intercepting lob after lob. But with GB pitman Rob Parker on their team, Sutton inevitably took the lead with a floor-assisted goal. Watford responded with John Pickford feeding Andy Holt, who coolly back-flicked from pit into the Sutton goal.
Although Watford played the ball around nicely, they couldn’t convert possession into goals. But a converted penalty and a soft goal helped Sutton move into a 3-1 lead by the end of the quarter. It would have been worse but for Pickford saving a second Sutton penalty.
Time for Watford to attack the shallow end, and time for Karen Basu to replace Pickford in goal. Some stout defending from Alun Dorrington kept Parker quiet. But an indecisive Watford attack heralded some chaotic defending, allowing Sutton to extend their lead to 4-1. A run of great reaction saves from Basu stopped Sutton from running away with the match.
Danny Davis then calmed our nerves with a 5m goal, before Parker scored another goal from pit for Sutton. Will Eggleton then fired in his own 5m effort to bring it back to 5-3. Parker again…..6-3. In a final Watford attack of the quarter, Cameron Baker fed Holt, who slotted home his second back-flicked goal, in what is becoming a signature move.
The weight and physicality of the Sutton players was starting to pay off as they muscled their way to a 7-4 lead early in the third quarter. But in a beautifully executed man-up, Holt found Eggleton unmarked, firing Watford back into the game at 7-5 down. Holt was provider once again, for Davis this time, bringing Watford tantalisingly close to Sutton at 7-6. But Sutton responded well to the threat, quickly restoring a three-goal lead. John Pickford then played the ball to Petar Djordjic in the pit, who held off two defenders to make it 9-7. But this only acted as a final wake-up call for Sutton, who raced to a 11-7 lead by the end of the quarter.
A converted man-up extended the Sutton lead to five goals at the start of the final quarter. Cameron Baker narrowed the lead to 12-8, moments later a five metre shot from Adam Page had us three behind at 12-9. Sutton hit back with two goals. Watford did not surrender. Dorrington set up Davis for his third goal, while Djordjic provided Holt with his third – yet another back-flick! This final rally wasn’t enough, however, with Sutton ending the match with a 14-11 win. But a great team effort from Watford, who fought hard against a physically superior opposition, with some great saves from Pickford and Basu giving the rest of the team the confidence to take the game to their opponents.
Report by Mike Eggleton