Alex Halcoussis

Season 2014/15 Report

Captain’s Prologue

It’s been a fantastic year for the Men’s 3rd XI. Sure, winning the league sure does put a smile on my face! However, it’s been more than that. Since the 3rd XI began a few years ago I’ve always felt we have been 11-16 people who can play hockey well. But this season we have shown that we are 11-16 people who can play hockey well together as a team! I feel the drive to want to train, play and even socialise outside of hockey has helped wonders. We have seen some new talent come through the team and some familiar awesome faces return. This to me proves that Romsey Hockey Club is a brilliant, friendly club that helps people develop their hockey skills and enjoy the sport.

But that’s enough from me!

In a bit of a change from the norm, Alex Halcoussis has kindly completed the end of season report after doing some fantastic match reports throughout the season. So until next year, cheers lads!… It’s been a pleasure!!

Matt Clark

Report

A brilliant season for the Thirds culminated in our winning the league with three games left to play. During the first half of the season we dropped only five points, picking up 22 out of a possible 27. After the Christmas break we won every game, eventually finishing top by 16 points. This was mainly down to having a great squad who wanted to play home and away, and over the course of the season our average team size was 14. As usual, it has been great fun playing with the Thirds and our team spirit has played no small part in our success.

Whilst the success I mention previously has been a huge team effort, there have of course been some outstanding individuals. We scored 62 goals this season, an average of 3.4 a game, and there was not a game where we failed to score in the entire campaign. Richard Lake and Ben Ellis enjoyed a mostly friendly competition for top scorer, in the end tying on 12. The defence was perhaps even more impressive this season, conceding only 7 goals in 1260 minutes of play. Somewhat unbelievably only Fareham, Gosport and Bournemouth managed to score against us and Lukasz Suleja kept 13 clean sheets. Mark McArdle somehow managed to score 5 goals playing as a sweeper, and has been versatile in midfield as well. Two players new to the side, Romsey U16s Zak Cooper and Matchey Lincoln have also been impressive as they quickly made themselves part of the team and scored 14 between them. Vice-Captain Pete Cooper was his usual commanding self, returning from injury to boss the midfield, and to shout at the rest of the team. Special thanks have to go out to our Captain, Matt Clark, who has treated this team as his baby and is the driving force behind it.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to our season, whether that was playing, supporting or taking training when our coaches disappeared. It has been truly enjoyable to be a part of and I am sure this team will have every success in the next division.

Romsey III 1-0 Aldershot and Farnham V

Romsey concluded their glorious campaign with a late win over Aldershot and Farnham which saw the Thirds maintain their 100% winning record at home. In recent weeks this Romsey side has stormed to victory in the league, winning 11 straight games to be crowned champions with three to go.

Men's 3rd XI League Champions!

Men’s 3rd XI League Champions!

The first half saw Romsey line up with Lukasz Suleja in goal behind a back three of Luke Hammond, Mark McArdle and Alex Halcoussis. Danny Nicoll started in midfield, in front of holding players Pete Cooper and Jon Marsh. Captain Matt Clark and J Robinson occupied the wings as Nick Mason and Ben Ellis started in attack. Rolling subs were Chris Harwood, Ben Manning, Fergus Longman, TK and Richard Lake. It was the visitors who made the brighter start as Romsey struggled to get a grip on the early stages of the game. By half time, however, the home side had won short corner after short corner and had numerous shots – but had not managed to score.

The second half saw Romsey dominate once more, with Danny Nicoll almost scoring what would have been one of the goals of the season as he chipped a stranded keeper only to see his looping effort just clear the bar. As time wore on the home side became increasingly desperate before Richard Lake, this season’s joint top goal scorer with Ben Ellis, found the bottom left of the goal with a straight strike from what felt like Romsey’s 100th short corner.

The celebrations that followed a difficult victory perfectly rounded off this magnificent season for the thirds.

City of Portsmouth IV 0-6 Romsey III

Having previously won 6-0 in the reverse fixture, the Romsey Men’s 3rd XI travelled to Portsmouth and replicated the score line against a team that deserved more given the balance of play. This was the third’s final away game of the season so it was important to end on a high.

In the first half Romsey lined up with Lukasz Suleja in goal and a back three of Luke Hammond, Hugh Davidson and Alex Halcoussis. In midfield Mark McArdle played alongside Jon Marsh, sitting behind Fergus Longman who rotated with Ben Manning. Wingers Matt Clark and J Robinson rolled with Chris Harwood, and upfront Nick Mason and Ben Ellis swapped with Zak Cooper.

All three strikers scored in the first half, as Nick Mason broke the deadlock with a strike from the top of the D. There had been considerable confusion with Ben Ellis as his shot through the keeper’s pads was at first adjudged to have crossed the line before it was cleared, before being ruled out. Romsey’s current top goal scorer was awarded a goal as he finished off a nice move starting from midfield with McArdle, who passed through Longman to Robinson before the ball was fed to the striker. The first half was rounded off by Zak Cooper, who scored on his reverse.

It was Cooper, who has been prolific in his first season of men’s hockey, who scored Romsey’s fourth of the afternoon. Romsey did a lot of defending at the beginning of the second half but great play on the break saw Harwood cross into the D for the diminutive striker to convert with a sublime deflection at the near post. Nick Mason scored his second of the afternoon as he went alone to score a great goal. Zak Cooper rounded off a fantastic hat-trick as he scored into the roof of the net after beating several Portsmouth defenders.

The away form of the 3rd XI this season has been fantastic, and this was another example of a great win from a team that are all willing to travel and win together.

Romsey III 3 – 1 Fareham IX

Fareham were only one of two teams that had not been beaten by the Romsey Men’s Third XI before the break, as the two sides had previously drawn 1-1. This meant that this was a match Romsey wanted to win, even though they were already promoted. A relatively cold afternoon saw Romsey line up with Lukasz Suleja in goal and a back three of Mark McArdle, Luke Hammond and Hugh Davidson. In midfield Jon Marsh and Pete Cooper played alongside each other behind Danny Nicoll, with Captain Matt Clark starting out wide right and James Robinson out left. Upfront Romsey started with strikers Nick Mason and Zak Cooper. A special mention must go to keeper Lukasz Suleja, who has kept 12 out of 16 clean sheets so far, and conceded only 6 goals all season – an average of a goal every 2.6 games. Bournemouth have been the only team to have scored more than one goal past this monster in a single game.

The first half saw Romsey play mainly on the counter attack, scoring fairly early on through striker Richard Lake. Receiving the ball in the D to the left of the P spot, the South African terminator dispatched it calmly, low to the keeper’s right. The other excitement of a scrappy half was an altercation between the two teams where Danny Nicoll’s tackle at the top of Fareham’s D saw handbags between a few of the players.

Romsey were much improved in the second half and enjoyed good periods of possession in Fareham’s half, scoring their second of the afternoon from a short corner that went out to Pete Cooper, who struck it towards the near post. Deflected by injector Mark McArdle, the effort was saved only as far as Clark who scored in his typically emphatic fashion. Romsey’s third and final of the afternoon came through Richard Lake. Matt Clark won the ball on the halfway line before driving up the pitch and slipping it to the striker. Zak Cooper and Nick Mason were both lively in attack, with the former striking the post after being put through by Halcoussis, who had received the ball from Chris Harwood cutting inside from the left wing. Danny Nicoll hit the crossbar from a drag flicked short corner as well, and aside from Fareham scoring a short corner the Third XI had a good afternoon.

Romsey III 4 – 0 Salisbury IV

A triumphant Romsey side beat Salisbury on the last day of February to clinch the league title with three games still to play. The win saw the Third XI rise to 40 league points, 10 more than they achieved in the entirety of last season.

In the first half Romsey lined up, for the first time in weeks, with their first choice defence of Mark McArdle, Luke Hammond and Hugh Davidson. The midfield consisted of holding players Jon Marsh and Pete Cooper, with Fergus Longman in an attacking role. Captain Matt Clark and Alex Halcoussis started on the wings with Ben Ellis and Matchey Lincoln starting up front. Romsey dominated the early stages of play but were unable to make successive short corners count. The first goal came through striker Richard Lake diverting Davidson’s shot into the goal. After the breakthrough Salisbury grew more into the game and looked like equalizing, however Romsey doubled their lead before half time. In his own words Matt Clark made “a fantastic slip” to Pete Cooper who hit powerfully to the back post for Halcoussis to tap in unmarked.

Knowing they were on course to win the league on the second half, Romsey’s play became scrappier but happily this did not reflect on the score line. Zak Cooper added a third as Halcoussis squared the ball across the face of goal and, after a couple of attempts, he popped it across the goal line. Ben Ellis rounded off the day as he scored towards the end of the game, and J Robinson made sure the ball crossed the line for him. A number of attempts from the winning side included a strong shot from Zak Cooper that forced play to halt as the keeper recovered and Clark coming close with a reverse.

It has been a great season so far for the Thirds, who continue their 100% home record and everyone who has contributed in some way to the team deserves plaudits.

Gosport 1898 1 – 2 Romsey III

The Romsey Men’s Third XI won one of their hardest fought victories away at Gosport to continue their title challenge.

A clear cold day saw Romsey line up in the first half with a defence of Luke Hammond, Mark McArdle and Alex Halcoussis, a midfield trio of temporary captain Pete Cooper, Jon Marsh and Richard Lake and forwards Chris Harwood, Ben Ellis, Zak Cooper and J Robinson. It was Romsey who struck first after winning a short corner early on in the half. Injected by Mark McArdle, the initial shot from Richard Lake was saved but Ben Ellis swept in at the back post to score. Gosport were able to draw level quickly through a short corner of their own, but Romsey regained the lead before half time as Nick Mason shot from the right hand side of the D into the top left corner of the goal.

During the second half Romsey found the backboard twice but both goals were ruled out. Strong defending saw the visitors keep a second half clean sheet, enough to ensure the win. Gosport put up a strong performance and were the first team to score against the thirds from a short corner this season, 14 games in.

Romsey 3rd XI 3 – 1 Bournemouth 6th XI

Valentine’s Day saw an exciting match up on the hockey pitch as the Romsey Men’s Third XI took on Bournemouth, the only team to have beaten them in the league so far. The reverse fixture had seen Bournemouth triumph at home 3-2, and they sat third in the league. Romsey meanwhile had maintained a 100 percent home record, scoring 27 goals and conceding none in the process. Both teams saw this as a crucial game in their pursuit of promotion.

It was Bournemouth who started the first half the brightest, dismantling Romsey’s clean sheet record within the first 10 minutes of the game. A strong ball out from the back caught the makeshift back three of Alex Halcoussis, Mark McArdle and Luke Hammond out of position and Bournemouth’s striker provided a tidy finish into the bottom left of the goal as keeper Lukasz Suleja rushed out to meet him.

Romsey were striving hard to get back into the game, and an equaliser was eventually found through attacking midfielder Danny Nicoll who tapped in at the back post after a scramble in Bournemouth’s D. The ball was moved from McArdle to Clark at the top of the D, who faked right before slipping the ball under his arm to the left for the McArdle to run on to. Romsey’s sweeper then arrowed the ball towards the goal, where it was deflected in by Nicoll. At 1-1 both teams looked well matched, but it was Romsey who made the breakthrough before half time as a penalty was awarded for a foot on the line. Captain Matt Clark once again showed composure to score from the spot, flicking hard into the inside side netting and leaving the keeper with no chance. Bournemouth had little time to reply, although they panicked the Romsey midfield as they advanced into the home team’s half just before the whistle was blown.

At half time it was Vice-Captain Pete Cooper who delivered the team talk, urging his side to keep calm and stay strong. It was however Bournemouth who seemed to be on top in the second half, with the Thirds playing mostly on the counter attack. As the game became stretched towards the end it was striker Ben Ellis who sealed it for the home team with an accurate reverse stick finish, claiming three points for Romsey and making amends for missing earlier following a brilliant run. 3-1 was a good result for the Third XI as they continue their title fight even with a goal conceded at home.

Alton III 0-1 Romsey III

A dominant display by Romsey did not reflect on the score-line as the only goal of the game was a penalty flick, converted by Captain Matt Clark. The 3rd XI came with an almost full team, the only exeption being Lukasz Suleja who was kept out of goal by illness. Fortunately Romsey had a more than capable replacement in defender Luke Hammond, who saved the only shot on his goal superbly by diving to his left and blocking the attempt with an outstretched stick. As Luke moved into goal, Romsey lined up in the first half with a new defensive trio of Mark MacArdle, Hugh Davidson and Alex Halcoussis. A strong midfield consisted of Jon Marsh, Pete Cooper and Danny Nicoll with Fergus Longman and Ben Manning making big impacts off the bench. Longman nearly provided a moment of magic as his reverse from the left hand side of the D struck the right hand side of the crossbar. In attack the Thirds started with wingers Matt Clark and J Robinson and strikers Ben Ellis and Zak Cooper, with Chris Harwood rolling with them. A strong first half brought no goals despite numerous shots on goal, with Alton’s keeper making crucial saves.

The half time team talk focused on passing the ball as opposed to taking players on, but this was largely ignored by Romsey. The Thirds did, however, score in the second half as Ben Ellis won a penalty early on in the second half. This was converted by Matt Clark, who sent the keeper the wrong way and scored into the left of the goal. Unable to increase their lead, Romsey had an uneasy final 10 minutes as Alton searched for an equaliser. Successive short corners were defended well, and Romsey’s clean sheet means they have not conceded in 2015.

Romsey 3rd XI 4-0 Basingstoke Vikings

A cold and windy afternoon saw the Romsey Men’s Thirds take the opportunity to take six points from their opponents, having won the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Romsey were missing two of their key players in midfield and this saw competitive debuts for U16s Ben Davidson, David Forgan and Ben Manning. Sweeper Mark McArdle pushed up into a defensive midfield role, with winger Alex Halcoussis dropping to left centre half.

Romsey pushed back to start the game and endured a sticky 10-15 minutes before finding more of a rhythm. Ben Davidson’s first competitive men’s game was prematurely ended as he took an elbow to the nose, although he seemed relatively unfazed by the large amount of blood. Romsey’s opening goal came courtesy of striker Richard Lake, who gently rolled a p-flick into the left hand side of the goal. As the half wore on Rich fell over a lot, and Zak Cooper grabbed two goals before the break. The diminutive striker put in an impressive performance, harrying the opposition and running at defenders.

The first half finished at 3-0, and Captain Matt Clark’s team talk focused on the importance of passing and moving as opposed to individual play. The second half remain scoreless for quite some time, but Romsey sparked into life as Jon Marsh played a beautiful aerial through to Rich, who managed to play the ball into Basingstoke’s D before falling over. Zak cooper was on the mark again as a scramble in the D left him with a tap in. Romsey dominated the rest of the game, with David Forgan hitting the post.

Although they took time to hit their stride, Romsey will feel good about achieving a strong home victory whilst key players were missing, and extending their run of clean sheets.

Romsey 3rd XI 6-0 Isle of Wight 2nd XI

The Romsey Men’s third team showed no signs of lethargy as they romped to a 6-0 victory over 4th place Isle of Wight in their first game back after Christmas. A sharp start brought a goal inside the first five minutes for the hosts as the ball was fed to striker Richard Lake inside the D, who scored with a strike from the right of the goal. Lake was again involved in the second goal as Romsey scored their second soon after the first. The striker passed to winger Matt Clark at the top of the D, who dispatched the ball with an accurate strike. After the second goal Isle of Wight grew more into the game, and Romsey’s keeper Lukasz Suleja made a good save before the half ended. The Thirds added to their lead through Lake, as midfielder Danny Nicoll shovelled the ball into the D it fell to Lake who scored on the turn. Shortly before half time Romsey scored their fourth of the afternoon as sweeper Mark McArdle injected a short-corner to midfielder Pete Cooper, whose drilled shot deflected off the keeper’s pad into the goal.

Aside from the goals the other major action of the first half was a yellow card, awarded to an Isle of Wight player. Although they had a numerical advantage for around ten minutes, Romsey were unable to score and this was mirrored in the second half when the third team’s own Pete Cooper was yellow carded and a strong defensive display from McArdle, Hugh Davidson and Luke Hammond ensured that the Islanders did not score.

The second half proved much more even, as both teams found their rhythm disrupted by a stop-start game. Romsey were on top for most of the half but did not score until relatively late on, with striker Ben Ellis scoring a rebound from Matt Clark’s shot. Finally, Lake rounded off his hat-trick as he turned into the D and shot into the corner of the goal. The win ensures Romsey will stay top of their division, and they maintain their excellent home record.

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