Posted: 11.03.20 at 20:54 by Nick Hudson
Atherstone Adders are hoping their sharpshooters can carry on firing them to hockey’s version of the FA Cup final for the second successive season in a high noon duel at the weekend.
Men’s Firsts captain Martin Webb is their very own version of O.K. Corral’s Wyatt Earp – warming up for Sunday’s quarter-final clash against Southampton in the Tier 3 competition of the English Hockey Cup with his first six-goal haul of the 2019/20 term.
The unlucky opponents were Loughborough Town Thirds – beaten 13-1 by a rampant Adders side which allowed themselves the luxury of removing teenage keeper Will Parsons and playing him as cenre forward in the second half of last Saturday’s encounter, and even he scored.
Webb’s wondrous talent for finding the net has already seen him hit the backboard 65 times this season – 57 of them coming in the Tier 2 East Midlands Division One to make him the league’s leading scorer by a country mile.
Such is the dominance of Adders this season in front of goal, they have amassed 138 goals in the league with Webb’s forward partner Josh ‘Doc Holliday’ Wagg in second place in the scoring charts with 25.
And Cameron Hobbs, who scored four in Loughborough game, stands joint ninth in the top scorers list with 13 goals – alongside Adders’ Sean Hirons. Daman Johal is 13th with 11 strikes to his name in the league.
Adders’ high-scoring five have rattled in 119 of the team’s 138 league total which is 71 goals more than second-place Derwent have managed.
The goal-hungry Adders, bidding for their third successive promotion, need just two wins out of the last three games to ensure finishing in top spot which would leave Derwent unable to make up the four-point margin, even though the two meet in the last game of the season.
Webb, recalled to the England over 35s squad for World Cup duty in August, has now managed 14 hat-tricks this season – one six, twice hitting five and on five occasions finding the net four times in a game.
It surely must be an omen that Sunday’s opponents Southampton at the Queen Elizabeth Academy have managed only 67 goals between them all season – two more than the Adders skipper has netted on his own.
And last year’s beaten finalists in the cup competition must be reasonably confident of coming away with a semi final berth as Southampton have endured a very “average” season in South Hockey League’s Hampshire/Surrey Regional 2.
They are in the bottom four of their league – five points adrift of safety – and hwon just once in the months of January and February.
And in all competitions they have managed 10 wins, four draws and been on the losing side a dozen times. Adders, by comparison, have just two league defeats.
They beat Okehampton 4-0 in the last 16 of the EH Cup while Adders came from two goals down against Berkswell and Balsall Common to finish 3-3 in normal time and win 4-2 in the penalty shootout.
Men’s manager Mick Thomas is hoping the town will help cheer on the hockey team to a famous victory, showing it the same level of support as Atherstone Town CFC received in their FA Vase run.
He said: “Atherstone got behind the football team during its amazing cup run. Now it’s time to do the same for the Adders’ hockey Men’s Firsts.”
Push back for the quarter-final tie on Sunday is 12 noon at TQEA.
Warwick Bears Firsts 10 Atherstone Badgers 2
It was literally Bears against Badgers as Atherstone came up against a ‘Perfect 10’ scoreline from a much older and more experienced Warwick side.
However, the loss provided the Atherstone youngsters the opportunity of playing against players with a far greater skillset and gave them a good insight for next season.
Although Badgers were down 4 -0 in the first 20 minutes, this was no reflection on how the defenders played.
However, a shot from Kayden Forryan was denied by the goalkeeper enabling Tom Stokes to pick up the rebound pushing home Badgers’ first goal.
The second half saw Warwick’s tally go up to eight before a goalmouth scramble enabled Badgers’ leading scorer Luke Illife to slot in their second goal – his seventh of the season.
Warwick went on to score two more but Badgers’ heads never went down despite the result.
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