Saturday 21st September 2019, Odd Down Sports Ground –
After a strong pre-season, Cheltenham travelled to Bath for the first game of the season, vying for an early lead in Cotswold League 1.
Cheltenham arrived with a strong squad of 15 and started the game well, with numerous shots on target, many blocked by the Bath keeper Adam Green grabbed the first goal of the day. Bath countered with high pressure, but keeper Pete Stefaniak pulled out some big saves. Cheltenham soon pressed again and came up with a goal from Max Biddlestone. Cheltenham continued to grow into the game, and began to play some well-drilled, composed lacrosse. Just before the end of the quarter, Bath fired in 2 quick goals to take the game to 2-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Bath came out strong at the beginning of the second quarter with a quick goal. Cheltenham responded well with a feed from David Lennox from behind goal to James Adamson for a shot which found the net. Bath looked to struggle slightly, as Cheltenham found their stride and found two more goals from Pete Smith and Adamson. Towards the end of the quarter, a misplaced clearance from an otherwise on-form Bath goalkeeper gifted the ball to Lennox for a one-on-one challenge, leading to a simple but expertly finished goal. The score sat at 6-3 at half time.
The third quarter began fast-paced with Bath and Cheltenham grabbing 2 goals each, both Cheltenham goals coming from James Adamson, who performed well throughout the game. Bath were clearly tiring, with Cheltenham continuing to apply more pressure. Matt Parkes made a surging transition, offloaded the ball, but stayed in the attacking half in time to receive a feed from Biddlestone and score a well-placed D-pole goal from crease. Bath pushed back, but big saves from Stefaniak kept Cheltenham ahead. Consistent solid defensive work from LSM Simon Benyon helped Cheltenham attack again with goals for Biddlestone and Lennox, including a fantastic team goal. Bath maintained in competition with 2 more goals towards the end of the quarter, ending the third quarter at 11-7 to Cheltenham.
Cheltenham started well in the final quarter, buoyed by the performance and to seal the game off with a 2nd goal of the game for Adam Green and a 5th for James Adamson. In an intense twist of fates, Bath dominated the second half of the fourth quarter and pressed Cheltenham hard with 3 goals with 5 minutes to go, pulling it back to 13-10. Bath had found their rhythm, and scored twice more, leaving it 13-12 with 47 seconds left. Realising they could snatch a draw, Bath hit the Cheltenham defence hard, with a strong save in a one-on-one from Pete Stefaniak, with 30 seconds to go. As the final seconds died down, it felt the game could be heading to a draw, but the Cheltenham defence, maintaining their strong form, held out for the win.
The game ended 13-12, for a good win, and start to the season.
James Adamson – 5
David Lennox – 2
Max Biddlestone – 2
Adam Green- 2
Pete Smith – 1
Matt Parkes – 1
Man of the Match – Simon Benyon
A huge game for the Cheltenham defensive unit, with a stand-out performance from Benyon, courtesy of strong LSM work, multiple attacking transitions and some brilliant ball-winning checks.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Paul “SMS” McGowan is one of the club’s ‘old guard’, an original Cougar with a fair few stories to tell from his many years of experience representing the black and blues. Highlights? No, he’s just going grey.