3rd Grade Men’s v Briars 29 April 2023 at Cintra

Result: Glebe 1 lost to Briars 3

Half-time: Glebe 1 Briars 2

Penalty corners: Glebe 2 (no goal) Briars 3 (1 goal)

Penalty Strokes: Briars 2 (2 goals)

Scorers: Andrew Cheong, Field goal

Glebe players: Jacob Warnock, Chris Farrugia, Sam Bagley, Tony Wark, Simon Wark, Paul Jowett, Andrew Cheong, Cameron Johnston, Brad Goodridge, Aiden Najdzion, Darren French, Zane Goodridge, Will Brine, Clayton Herbst, Nick D’Onofrio, Matthew Wark, Ken Wark (coach).

Unavailable players: Adam Campano, Pat Wark (chronic knee problems), John Hammond, Rob Curlewis

Pre-match prediction:

Glebe has had three losses from three games so far in 2023, with 4 goals for and 19 goals against. Briars have had 3 goals for and 6 against, for two losses and a draw. The results suggest that Briars is a goal or two better than Glebe and are favourites to win this Glebe v Briars encounter.

Glebe has a big squad of 16 players this week, with several players coming back into the Club’s teams after recent absences. The Glebe team this week is the strongest third grade team fielded so far in 2023 and I predict a hard, close game with the result going to the team that best takes its chances in front of goal. The AI forecast is Glebe 1 losing to Briars 3, with Glebe being a 6 to 1 outsider. My own prediction is for a 1-1 draw.

Match Report:

Glebe was competitive tonight and had as many if not more circle penetrations than Briars, although Briars probably had about 55 % of the territory. If Glebe had taken its good goal scoring chances it would have won the game, but Glebe’s goal craft and circle craft needs to be substantially improved if the team is to be more competitive.

The day had been showery on and off, but the rain held off for the third-grade game, which was played in front of the 100-strong crowd which had assembled for the Trevenar-Wark Cup day.

With five players on the bench, it meant that players were coming on and off the field frequently. This made it hard for the team to settle into its stride and develop its pattens of play.  Individually the players had the requisite skills for third grade, but the teamwork, passing and game plan were ordinary. The team had five players in this game who were playing their first third grade game which added to the lack of team cohesion.

In the initial minutes of the first quarter Briars moved the ball around the back with crisp, well directed, strong passes, which held possession for them but did not penetrate the Glebe defence. The first 2 to 6 minutes were even stevens, with the game played in the midfield. Seven minutes into the game a quick ball from defence found Glebe forward Tony Wark 35 metres out from the Briars goal line, in the inside left alley. Tony crunched the ball at the Briars goal, which Andrew Cheong read perfectly and he ran onto the ball and deflected it into the Briars goal. Glebe 1 Briars 0.

After this goal Briars began pressing the Glebe defence, which was repelling many Briars sorties with determination and commitment. Glebe was relying on quick breaks from deep defence to muster an attack, with Paul Jowett and Clayton Herbst prominent in these endeavours. The Glebe forwards were covering a lot of territory in cover defence with Aiden Najdzion and Cameron Johnston working hard. Eleven minutes into the first quarter centre-half Andrew Cheong had a promising shot for goal from the top of the circle in the inside right alley. The ball just skirted past the right-hand goal post.

With four minutes left in the first quarter Briars broke down the left wing, across the backline and then the ball was pushed towards the penalty spot. In making a tackle a Glebe player lost his footing on the damp turf and went to ground. The ball was coming out towards the top of the circle when it grazed the Glebe player on the ground’s foot, with a Briar’s penalty stroke awarded by the umpire. Briars scored from a well taken stroke Glebe 1 Briars 1, which was the score at the end of the first quarter.

Glebe was doing too much one-out running with the ball, rather than giving the early ball and taking the field position to get a return pass. More passing and less hero runs were required.

Glebe started well in the second quarter, stringing 4 or 5 passes together but without ever looking like it was going to penetrate the Briars defence. Some of the 60 metre overheads thrown by Matthew Wark at fullback were effective in clearing the ball from defence and on occasions giving the Glebe forwards opportunities to advance into the Briars circle. The Glebe forwards did not position themselves well to receive the overhead ball from Matthew and many very good attacking opportunities went begging.

Nine minutes into the second quarter Briars attacked down the left wing, ran the ball along the backline and a scramble ensued inside the Glebe defensive circle. The ball hit a Glebe defender’s foot and a penalty corner was awarded to Briars. From a well-directed direct hit at goal the ball whistled past the Glebe goalkeeper Jacob Warnock and cannoned into the backboard, Glebe 1 Briars 2. Fullbacks Sam Bagley and Chris Farrugia were tackling well and their occasional crunch balls to the forwards relieved the pressure on the Glebe defence and gave their forwards the ball in promising field positions to attack the Briars’ goal. Some of the shooting at goal by the Glebe forwards was poor and many excellent opportunities were not capitalised upon.

Two minutes from half-time Tony Wark pushed the ball from the right wing across the face of the Briars’ goal, but unfortunately the ball evaded the Glebe forwards and another excellent opportunity was missed. The score at half-time was Glebe 1 Briars 2. Glebe desperately needed to have a high striker available to receive the ball from the back. Glebe had a few defenders who could hit or flick the ball 60 metres with ease, but this potential possessed by the team was never utilized to its full potential. Much too often 11 Glebe players would be in Glebe’s defending 22 metre area. A high striker would have given Glebe the opportunity to steal a goal and to mount more dangerous raids into the Briars’ goal.

Glebe needed faster ball movement, the ball was passed too late, telegraphed and often passed too slowly. The Glebe forwards’ running off the ball and making themselves available for a pass needed to be improved. The Glebe forwards did not do enough to elude their markers.

Although down 1-2 at half-time I had the feeling that Glebe was still well in the game. The territory in the first half had been around 50-50 and Glebe had had many good scoring opportunities without being able to put the ball in the net.

At the start of the third quarter Briars started strongly and Glebe had trouble clearing the ball from defence. This was a period of sustained pressure from Briars. Ten minutes into the third quarter Glebe started to put a few passes together and trouble the Briars defence. Andrew Cheong had a first-time slap shot at goal from six metres out, which was well saved by the Briars’ goal keeper. This was a promising scoring opportunity. Glebe was creating circle penetrations and building momentum, but were finding it difficult to create goal scoring chances.

The players ball control was found wanting at times, our passing was too slow and the ball was not going to a team mate’s stick. Our reading of the game was good, our tackling was effective and effort, determination and commitment  was present in abundance. The potential was there but the execution of the fundamentals at times was lacking.

With 30 seconds left in the third quarter Briars cracked the ball 60 metres from its own 22 metre line to its left wing who worked his way along the backline into the Glebe circle and earned a penalty corner that was taken after the hooter to end the quarter. From the corner the ball was flicked to the goal keeper’s left where it hit a Glebe defender on the hand, which was holding his hockey stick and deflected over the goal.

The umpire awarded a penalty stroke, as he assumed the ball hit the Glebe defender’s body stopping a certain goal. The Glebe defender disagreed with the umpire’s decision as he rightly claimed that when the hand is holding the stick it is considered to be part of the stick. Briars scored from the penalty stroke and the score at the end of the third quarter was Glebe 1 Briars 3. Briars’ three goals had come from two penalty stokes and one penalty corner, with one of the penalty strokes being awarded after a Glebe breach during a Briars’ penalty corner. The Glebe defence was solid and the Briar’s forwards were well contained in general field play.

It was unlikely that Glebe was going to come back from a 1-3 deficit in the final quarter, as Briars had been the slightly better team for the first three quarters, but I thought it was possible, as Glebe had been creating good circle penetrations without converting these excellent opportunities into goals. In the third quarter the territory had been around 50-50.

The final quarter started with Glebe moving the ball around the back probing for a way through the Briar’s defence, with half Darren French and Nicholas Nick D’Onofrio being prominent. Three minutes into the fourth quarter Matthew Wark threw a 50-metre overhead from 15 metres inside his own half to the Briars’ 22-metre line. Unfortunately, there was not a Glebe high striker to receive it. With players in the team who could throw these type of overheads, Nick D’Onofrio being another Glebe player with an excellent overhead, not having a high striker meant Glebe did not make the most of this attacking option.

From midway through the final quarter until the final hooter, Glebe applied pressure to the Briars’ defence and had 60% of the territory. The team sensed that it needed to lift if it was to turn the game around and the final 10 minutes of the game were Glebe’s best minutes. There were many circle penetrations with Clayton Herbst being prominent in several attacking raids. Simon Wark made some fast, incisive runs in the midfield and Glebe were looking dangerous.

Glebe was awarded its second penalty corner with seven minutes remaining in the game. I sensed that if a goal could be scored from this corner, then Glebe coming home strongly as they were might be able to salvage a draw. The corner push-out was inaccurate, the stop was not executed well and the opportunity went begging.

Briars were mostly concentrating on defending its lead, but did make the occasional effective counter attack into Glebe territory. Briar’s two previous goals had come from penalty corners and it had a good penalty corner set-up. Three minutes from full time Briars were awarded its third penalty corner, but this time the shot from the top of the circle went wide of Glebe’s right hand goal post. Glebe reapplied the pressure for the last two minutes of the game and had several promising circle penetrations without being able to score. The final score was Glebe 1 Briars 3.

Glebe had enough scoring opportunities to win the game, but the team’s ability to convert good scoring opportunities into goals was lacking. The team’s effort, enthusiasm, behaviour, commitment and determination were excellent and it was a close, tense game. At no stage did I think Glebe did not have a chance of winning the game. It was the first game this season that the Glebe third grade looked as if they might be able to win the game, although in the end it was not to be.

After the game, the final game of the day, there was a presentation of the Trevenar-Wark Trophy to the GDHC for winning the Derby Day competition on goal difference, after the five games played on the day had resulted in two Glebe wins, two Briars wins and one draw. The 7-1 win by the Glebe second grade gave the Glebe Club’s goal difference a big boost. The Cup Day has been going for 20 years, with the Briars-Glebe tally starting at 10 Cup Day wins each.

Next week 6 May 2023 there is no round of Premier Division hockey, I am told because of the NSW under 18-championships. I find it disappointing that 30 hockey teams in Sydney are stood down because of the under 18-NSW championships. A case of the ordinary club player being overlooked because of an overindulgence of the game’s elites. The average club player just wants to play hockey every week during the season without interruptions. It seems this objective of the average club player is being ignored by Sydney Hockey.

The following week 13 May 2023 Glebe Premier Division teams have a bye. On 20 May 2023 Glebe third grade play Northern Districts at 12.30 pm, at Cintra synthetic turf, Concord.

H Wark


Report on the Glebe v Briars Third Grade game played 1830 hours, 29 April 2023 at the Cintra Turf, Concord.