Was The Hurricanes excellent early season form an aberration? When does a series of bad results become a serious slump? These were surely the questions on Tickell’s mind after his team’s third consecutive defeat and second game in a row that saw his previously explosive forwards fail to find the net. There had been mitigating circumstances in the previous two losses; they were short defensively, star striker Haughton was missing but there could be no such excuses this time.
For the first time in several weeks all eight Hurricanes were available for selection. Eager and ready it was time to exorcise their demons and rediscover the sweet taste of victory against Chaps, a strong side albeit one who could be overcome. Haughton returned to the starting line-up upon his return and E. Fenwick partnered him up front after a impressing in training. The preferred defensive partnership of Coopman and Stoker was together again and Tickell was, as usual, between the sticks.
Furthermore The Hurricanes’ bench was loaded with talent. J. Fenwick and Rees were on call as well as “Kenny” Kemeny who had finally returned after a short spell of absence. Conversely Chaps were shorthanded, not only missing their formidable if slighty overweight shot stopper but without a single substitute whatsoever. The stage was set and Tickell rallied his troops pre match. There was a palpable determination emanating from The Hurricanes.
In the first half both sides were as solid at the back as they were impotent up top. Rees, Coopman, Stoker and Kemeny performed admirably in defence but there was little cohesion between the individuals. Forays forward broke down at the half way line and the only significant effort of the half fell to Chaps but Tickell was quick off his line to secure the loose ball. At half time the teams went in level on zero apiece, not fantastic until you consider that The Hurricanes had shipped 11 goals in their previous four halves of football. This was an improvement but there was still work to be done.
It may be well-worn cliché but when a game is so emphatically of two halves there is no phrase more apt. For a short while The Hurricanes kept up their defensive fortitude but within five minutes it began to fall apart. Three free kicks, all conceded needlessly, were fired home and despite a strong start The Hurricanes found themselves in a familiar hole.
With their attack as blunt as ever and spirits at rock bottom, The Hurricanes conceded three more without reply. Poor defending and weak goalkeeping were partly to blame but more than anything this was simply a case of a fit, talented team firing on all cylinders. When the final whistles mercifully blew the facts were laid bare; seventeen goals conceded and just the one scored in three games.
After last week’s eight goal mauling Tickell overtly threw his team under the bus much to the chagrin of several of the veteran player. Not long after the game rumours flooded Twitter that Stoker and Tickell has exchanged punches but the club was quick to rubbish this hearsay.
With lessons learnt there was to be no finger pointing this time and the manager was instead full of stoic rhetoric and bountiful optimism. There are tough tests ahead for The Hurricanes and today was not the day they turned the corner. Still, with the talent at his disposal and by making all the right noises Tickell hopes to lead his charges back to winning ways sooner rather than later. As a rookie manager he will be afforded some leeway but if the poor results continue then more serious questions will be asked of him.
The Hurricanes: F. Tickell, J. Stoker, B. Coopman, E. Fenwick, M. Haughton,
Subs: H. Rees, J. Fenwick, R. Kemeny
Man of the match: None