WA Over 40's - 2008 Match Reports


WA vs SA - Wednesday, July 9, 2008


THERE was some trepidation going into our first match with only 11 (mostly fit) players available to take the field. 

Once we got on it was the heat that was taking its toll on several players. However, we had the vast majority of the possession in the first half, so were forced to quickly adapt to the conditions. Man of the match Alan Dick didn’t take long to settle in on a surface most found suited fast hockey and rewarded precise passing. He made several penetrating runs from right inner, creating numerous opportunities. 

Up front there were good chances for left wing Martin Turner and centre forward John Sims, while Dick also found himself in the clear at the top of the circle but shot wide. 

With captain Noel Morrison marshalling the defence from centre half, we were continually pressing and thwarting South Australia’s attacking moves and moving the ball smoothly through full backs Scott McDonald and Glenn Strother. 

But we were unable to finish off our moves and went into a much needed break at 0-0, with some players making use of the ice vest. 

Whatever the reasons, we came out in the second half much stronger than the opposition. 

With the ball mostly in our attacking half, half backs Michael Bilney and Gunnar Grov were able to push up and get the ball to inners Dick and Colin Tyler, or find wings Peter Brampton and Turner. 

Eventually it was attacking plays from Dick that made the difference, taking on the defence from the 25-yard mark and setting up John Sims for two well executed goals from angled pushes. 

When the opposition did get short corner opportunities, goalie Martin Ferrari got himself in the right position to comfortably stave them off. 

While 2-0 is always an uneasy score line, with the threat of a quick goal from the opposition changing the game dramatically, our defence held firm to the end and were pleased to come out with a solid win in the circumstances.

Result: WA 2 - SA 0

WA vs NSW - Friday, July 11, 2008

This was a good wake-up call, particularly for first-timers, for the intensity of state hockey, after a relatively mild start against South Australia. 

Yet it was WA that clearly woke up feeling brighter than their rivals. Despite still playing with the bare 11 in 30C conditions, we dominated the first half on ground two, a slightly bumpier surface than the main stadium. 

The forward press marshalled through captain Noel Morrison was putting enormous pressure on the NSW back line, which looked decidedly creaky and turned the ball over regularly. 

Again it was man of the match right inner Alan Dick creating the momentum, combining effectively with Martin Turner on right wing to consistently penetrate the circle. 

Centre forward John Sims was also in the action with plenty of ball in the scoring zone. 

It was Dick who eventually started the scoring, using his speed to get into the circle and finishing his own work from the left after the goalie repelled his first shot. 

At the end of the day it was probably our inability to capitalise on any of the several short corners in the half that sealed our fate. 

NSW came out much more determined in the second half, with two players assigned to Alan Dick, giving right half Michael Bilney a much tougher assignment to set up attacking plays. 

The Blues started finding players in space and eventually found a way through with a crisp shot from the right just scraping past keeper Martin Ferrari’s stick. 

With the scores even the opposition smelt blood and WA’s energy levels were suddenly and drastically depleted. 

Glenn Strother was working hard from the back line and even trying some attacking moves but we were getting little penetration, though Dick had a strong shot and Turner almost scooped one past the keeper from close range. 

A penalty stroke from another classy break and a further goal that left several players ball watching showed we had some ground to make up when next we meet last year’s champions. 

However, with our two reserves in the fray from here on in and the positive first half, it augurs well for the rest of the tournament

Result: WA 1 - NSW 3

WA vs VIC - Sunday, July 13, 2008

You might have thought the addition of two players would suddenly improve our team performance after coping with only 11 players for two matches. 

But regardless of the quality of centre half Ismael Leis and half back Darran Wilson, they need time to adjust to the team and conditions and the team must also adjust to them. 

That was certainly a factor in a game that showed we have much room for improvement. Conditions were oppressive, with humidity higher than normal in the standard ‘one day as beautiful as the next’ 31C temperature. 

But Victoria appeared to adjust much better and were strong at the ball from the start. Full back Glenn Strother aggravated a hamstring injury within the first few minutes, requiring Michael Bilney to step into the role and immediately changing the composition of the side for the remainder of the half. 

While Victoria were prepared to step into spaces to create plays, WA were doing way too much ball watching, waiting for the play to come to them. 

While it did come our way, it was not the way we wanted it, with Victoria making several early attacking moves and getting regular circle penetration. 

Their relentless pressure was eventually rewarded with a short corner conversion, though WA believed it was too high into the corner tin. 

A second goal tapped in from a strong shot left WA shell shocked and searching for a way through. Ismael Leis was working hard but there was a lack of fluidity around the field. 

Nevertheless, we managed to put together some passes and exposed the Victorian defence, with Colin Tyler striking from the right top of the circle for Martin Turner to steer the ball home on his reverse from close range on the left. 

Turner undid his good work with a failed intercept in midfield, allowing Victoria to get into the circle and score down the middle and impose their authority again. 

Down 1-3 at the break, Strother was able to return to the field for the second half and combined well with full back Scott McDonald. Keeper Martin Ferrari was also working hard. 

However, we were still unable to dictate play for significant periods and Victoria scored a further two goals. 

After a better passage of play, John Sims dribbled into the circle and held off his shot, eventually flicking a clever shot over the keeper as only an instinctive striker can. 

Alan Dick was again given heavy treatment but his workload and tenacity were rewarded with the man of the match award for the third match in a row. 

With captain Noel Morrison back in the forward line and our new players given a rude awakening to the tournament, we expect much improved performances from here on in, particularly with a back-to-back match against Queensland tomorrow.

Result: WA 2 - VIC 5

WA vs QLD - Monday, July 14, 2008

Backing up the next day after a heavy loss to Victoria was hard, but losing against arch-rivals Queensland was harder still. 

The game was played in unusually oppressive conditions, with intense heat and high humidity. 

The early part of the match was played quite evenly, but our susceptibility to quick movement down the corridor took its toll when Glenn Strother was alleged to have stopped a goal by impeding a player and a stroke was awarded and converted. 

The team played itself into the game, with better combinations emerging after the uncertainty of some play in the previous fixture when we welcomed Ismael Leis and Darran Wilson to the squad. 

John Sims had a great opportunity to equalise when a rebound came out quite slowly but the ball was spinning and he wasn’t able to connect well from close range. 

Captain Noel Morrison stepped up to produce his best match, returning to centre half and making important attacking plays. 

We went to half time 0-1 down, with temperatures gradually getting stickier and harder. 

As a result, the match slowed down a great deal in the second half, with WA having the better of the possession and Queensland often prepared to back off to conserve energy. 

However, it was Queensland who scored again, with a soft pass making its way across the circle for an easy put-away. 

John Sims scored with only a dozen minutes or so left on the clock, one-timing from the top left of the circle from a pass from ubiquitous man of the match Alan Dick. 

Despite constant forward thrusts, we were unable to score again. 

A win against WA Country on Wednesday is crucial to ensure our place in the semi-finals and give us the necessary confidence to take on our opponents for a place in the grand final. 

Result: WA 1 - QLD 2

WA vs WAC - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This was a match that simply had to be won. We came into the fixture fifth on the ladder and as goalie and 40s ‘veteran’ Martin Ferrari told us more than once, were staring down the barrel of one of our worst tournament performances in many years. 

South Australia were above us on the ladder by a two-goal difference but had the much tougher task of table-top Victoria. We were looking for an emphatic win against our country cousins to secure our place in the semi-finals. 

From the start we showed we meant business, our disciplined press keeping the ball in Country’s half for long periods. Eventually it was that pressure that left former France representative Ismael Leis in the clear for his first WA goal, with the goalie and defenders well out of position. 

Alan Dick, who completed a full set of man of the match awards from the opposition in this game, combined with Leis to score the second goal with a devastating shot from the right to the far corner. 

Martin Turner then benefited from a strong build-up on the right to slide the ball under the defence from close range to make it 3-0 before captain-coach Noel Morrison penetrated from the left and put a shot high into the middle netting. 

Morrison was about as happy as a coach could be at half-time, feeling his match planning was finally vindicated through the team’s approach to the vital game. 

The game gave our defence a great chance to work out various combinations, built on the rock-solid back line of Glenn Strother and Scott McDonald. Half-backs Michael Bilney, Colin Tyler and Gunnar Grov were excellent support for centre-half Morrison and marshalled their inners and wings effectively. Ferrari was rarely troubled. 

The second half was somewhat of a procession, with Darran Wilson getting himself into the play and Dick almost splintering the bar with a shot that cannoned across the goal but somehow stayed out early in the term. 

Peter Bampton was effective on left wing and eventually broke across the goal mouth, his shot easily put in by John Sims, who helped himself to another goal with a deft tackle before muscling his way into the circle for a clinical shot. 

Bampton got his first for the tournament with a run down left wing finished with a neat shot to the far post. 

Sims supplied Turner’s second goal, his one-time pass from a left wing cross deflected to the far post. 

Turner eventually completed a hat-trick with just a couple of minutes remaining, after a breakdown in a Country attack found Morrison at the top of the circle before the wing eliminated a defender and put the ball past a second player. 

The game took us into clear fourth spot and sent a message to our semi-final opponents Victoria that we will be ready for them on Friday. 

Goals scorers: Turner 3, Sims 2, Leis 1, Dick 1, Morrison 1, Bampton 1

Result: WA 9 - WAC 0

SemiFinal WA vs VIC - Friday, July 18, 2008

It would be nice to report a big win against the tournament favourites and eventual champions but it was not to be. 

An injury to Darran Wilson early in the match that left us with only one fit sub available significantly hampered our ability to mount a major challenge. 

But this was hardly the time to look for reasons to lose and we didn’t provide enough solutions to win. 
We started promisingly with short corner opportunities from well mounted surges into the circle. 
Victoria started to cleverly use their flanks to put through searching passes that tested each line of defence from the forward line onwards. Their powerful short corner battery gave them the edge, scoring goals that we had left begging. 

It became a procession, with four goals past us for the half. 

Captain-coach Noel Morrison was understandably angry at the break that our structure was letting us down and implored each one of us to find some pride and earn the respect of the well organized opposition. 
This was achieved despite conceding a further two goals before Glenn Strother skillfully latched onto a short corner rebound between his legs to slip the ball under the keeper. 
John Sims had his best game for the tournament, continually looking for chances on a difficult day for forwards. 
Colin Tyler gave his usual effort on the half and inner lines and Ismael Leis showed his silky skills in searching runs, despite being unlucky with several umpiring decisions. 

Losing the half 1-2 at least gave the team something to work with as we rebuild for Melbourne next year. 

This was undoubtedly a difficult tournament, with uncertainty about team numbers throughout the build-up. 
In the circumstances we can point to some good results, particularly the thumping of WA Country, and realize that there is the nucleus of a competitive squad here. 

Congratulations to Alan Dick for the distinction of being named best player by our opposition in every qualifying game. He followed this up with our own best player award and selection in the Australian side for Hong Kong next year. 

Congratulations also to Martin Ferrari and Noel Morrison for their selection in the Australian over-45 team for Hong Kong. 

Many thanks to Noel for sticking to the task and making sure his players understood their responsibilities to the state colours. 

Special thanks to Paula Dick for managing the many situations that arose well before we arrived in Darwin. A memorable stay in a fascinating city would not have been possible without her. 

Thanks also to photographer Louise and cheer squad Mitchell and Zoe. 

It’s rare for a bunch of 40-somethings to get two weeks away from their normal work and family responsibilities. Going from a tropical paradise to the storms and chills of Perth may take a few days’ adjustment. 

See you in Melbourne in ’09.

Result: WA 1 – VIC 6