1st XI Pre-Season Tour to Rennes
Thank you to CPB Rennes for hosting the Celtic Challenge, the beginning of what we hope will be a regular partnership between Wessex and the Breton club. The two matches allowed us to play against different styles and despite the loss against the hosts, we competed in a tough match and produced some very encouraging hockey. It was very great to see the mixture of 1s and 2s playing well together right from the beginning of the season and we feel confident that this has put us in good stead for the matches ahead.
Having just drawn 2-2 with Rennes, Carquefou were looking tired against the
fresh Wessex side on Saturday lunchtime, but strong midfield players and a dangerous aerial-throwing centre back made Wessex' match a tricky one. They were however the first ones to break the deadlock, as Kim Pullinger took advantage of some defensive confusion in the D to nick the ball past the keeper. Ex-Wessex 1s captain Tom Faerber made in 2-0 before the end of the first third as the high press and 3 man forward line unsettled the visitors from Nantes. They did manage to pull the score back to 2-1 from a short corner, but Wessex' fresher legs took over as Alex Foster made it 3-1 after selfishly stealing a goal from Pullinger's shot before the end of the second third. In the final third Tom Faerber added to his tally, and Harry Way made it 5 with a combination of his stick and his feet.
Fitness was the most important factor in the first match, but Wessex' neat plays and not carrying the ball into strong defenders was crucial. It was also great to see Wessex being clinical in front of goal.
The main event of the day, Wessex taking on the hosts, Rennes, started off with more intensity than the first match, as the two teams tried to adapt to each other's systems while maintaining a fast pace. Rennes won a short corner early on which then resulted in a P flick after the ball was stopped on the line by a Wessex foot. The ball was pushed past the on-loan Rennes junior keeper to make the score 1-0 to the hosts but Wessex equalised through their serial goaler Kim Pullinger's reverse stick volley in the second third.
Despite the fatigue beginning to show in the final third, Alex Foster made the score 2-1 after reacting quickly to a short corner save from the Rennes keeper, showing great awareness to pull the ball back and away from the goal mouth crowd before drilling the ball in. Rennes were able to equalise and take the lead after some goalkeeping errors and the match finished 3-2 to the hosts, but Wessex can be proud of a very strong performance after having played lots of hockey over the day. Strong performances from the Wessex defenders Alex Cattrell, Kieran Pidgeon and super-keen-fresher™ Tommy Cross earned them all MOM votes, but consistently-strong Dan George shared the prize with Alex Foster, while Andy Paterson was awarded TFC for viciously drilling the ball into a Carquefou player's back as he lay on the floor.
After an evening of Wessex games with a French twist, the group tried their hand at bubble soccer on Sunday. There we discovered that some players were better at football than hockey, and that running full tilt into someone else while you're surrounded by a giant plastic orb is amazing fun.
It was excellent to play good quality hockey to help us prepare for Hampshire and BUCS, but the group also had a great time and was able to sample Brittany's specialities. Thank you again to CPB Rennes and we hope to welcome you here soon, à bientôt.