Saturday 2nd November 2019, Elm Park, Bristol –
The Pride of Cheltenham made the trek south on the M5 to clash with the Big Bad Bombers of Bristol who were looking for redemption and to avenge the 5-4 defeat they suffered just two weeks ago on our turf. Some beautiful English weather had the boys on the edge of their seats on whether or not the contest would actually take place, but luckily the pitch held up long enough for the squad to show why we deserve the mantle of “Best in the West”.
An overhaul to both rosters brought a fresh look and feel to the second match-up of the year for the squads. Face-off specialist Pete Smith was MIA for this contest, but by no means was Cheltenham out of the face game. Adam Green stepped in and had a hell of a day at midfield, winning the lion’s share of the faces and receiving plenty of help off the wings from Gary Wood, who stepped in as the lone scoring action in the second quarter. Tom Blunsden, Elliot Thorp, Paul McGowan and debutant Curtis Hibberd made up the rest of a dominating midfield that proved to be a harsh opponent for the Bombers side. A 3-3 draw at halftime was shattered almost immediately into the third with an appearance from Elliott “all left” May who rallied the Cheltenham side and tallied not one, not two, but three scores on the day!
The midfield fed the eager and waiting attacking lines, who created a plethora of skillfully crafted opportunities to best the opposing goalkeeper. Patiently spinning the ball and drawing defenders out of their zones was the name of the game and by the second half the bomber crew were starting to cave under the pressure. There were crisp passes, great ball handling techniques, and plenty of fancy footwork despite the soggy terrain. The usual suspects notched some tallies on the scoresheet in Max Biddlestone and David Lennox, but how about the long-anticipated revival of Dan Martin who’s been sidelined since the start of the season?! Welcome back.
The Defensive long pole line-up in veteran personnel Guy Oldring, Matt Parkes, and Si Benyon had the bombers looking to not only crash the crease, but set out on a few kamikaze missions along GLE and knocking on the doorstep of GK Pete Stefaniak. The squad took away the long shots early leaving Bristol with the only option to muscle their way on to the doorstep. The defensive front was only bested a handful of times, but was offset by the 20% scoring effort from Si Benyon, doubling up as LSM for two beautiful outside goals, and their methodical clearing game.
The Cougars have come out firing this year and they continue to make a splash across the Cotswolds, but there is no doubt about the fact that people will be coming for that crown. The team will need to continue to work hard, get creative, and push each other to come together as a unit in taking on the next opponent at home. On to the next – Epsom this Saturday for the home fixture.
Final Score: Cheltenham 10 – Bristol 6
Elliot May – 3
Max Biddlestone- 2
Simon Benyon – 2
Dan Martin – 1
David Lennox 1
Gary Wood – 1
Man of the Match – Max Biddlestone
A close call, with top scorer May and hard-working Green both being just one vote from the accolaid. Biddlestone clutched it following two good goals and putting in a top effort on the ride.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Pete Stefaniak is passing through the UK for work and managed to stumble upon Cheltenham Lacrosse Club in the summer. He played keeper for a few clubs in Maryland, but hadn’t picked up a stick in 10+ years when he reached out to get back into the sport. In all of those years he’s only scored one goal against an opposing side… so far?