Saturday 17th August 2019, Odd Down Sports Ground, Bath –
Cheltenham Men’s team returned to action for a summer friendly, travelling to Bath for a pre-season friendly to get the fire going before the new season begins next month.
Cheltenham fielded a team that consisted with some new faces and many regulars returning to action. Being light in both attacking and defensive departments, Cheltenham started promising with Adam Green filling in the role of face off.
Bath had a strong squad and were looking to record a first win against Cheltenham since 2017.
With the game underway in the 1st quarter, Bath claimed possession and travelled into Cheltenham’s half looking for quick cuts, but were frustrated by the defensive trio of Simon Benyon, Tom Harris and Kieran Maxwell along with some early big saves by Steve Bennett. Cheltenham countered with a fast break, with Dan Martin hitting the target from a quick stick and giving Cheltenham the day’s first goal against their Cotswold rivals. Settling around the cage, and passing the ball patiently, taking advantage of a long summer training together, the Cougars doubled the lead with a great cut goal by Tom Blunsden.
After an effective time-out, Bath hit the attack early and got themselves back into the game beating Bennett at the crease. Cheltenham then found themselves level, with Bath scoring another cut-to-crease goal. After some impressive defence and some important saves, Bath were 1 goal ahead from a sharp outside shot, beating the keeper, ending the quarter leading the game.
In the second quarter, Cheltenham were on the back foot with Bath attacking early, scoring another goal to take them 4-2 ahead. Cheltenham were still in this and after an excellent save from the edge of the crease from Bennett and the Bath keeper making a big save immediately after, James Adamson dodged the defender and reduced the goal deficit to one. In a game of end-to-end Lacrosse, possession regularly changed, with ground balls being won by both sides. Bath edged it and found themselves 5-3 ahead and focused on taking this momentum through to half time. Cheltenham fought back and, got a goal back, with captain David Lennox finding the net to end the first half 5-4 behind.
Cheltenham made some changes with Ollie Dove replacing Simon Benyon in defence who went to LSM, and Steve Bennett coming off for James Lloyd in goal. In attack, old dogs Dan Martin and Paul McGowan were injured and replaced by newcomers Tim Snelson and Alex Bray.
The third quarter got under way and Bath looked ready to run away with the score line, however Cheltenham’s defensive efforts frustrated the hosts, making shots difficult, and James Lloyd kept the ball out with 2 successive saves. Cheltenham, back on the attack, equalised with a fine effort by debutant Tim Snelson registering his first goal for Cheltenham.
The momentum was high for the visitors, who were soon rewarded, with captain David Lennox bagging his second, putting Cheltenham a goal ahead going into the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, warm weather and fatigue left Cheltenham caught out, as the home team equalised. Cheltenham replied with Jack Lesniewski cutting through to beat the keeper and scoring his first goal for the Cougars. With five minutes to go, Tom Blunsden got his second of the day to send Cheltenham ahead with a good run to goal.
Cheltenham were pushing for victory, but the game was far from done. With minutes left, Bath applied pressure with a goal to put the score even. With important saves, some excellent defending and a counter-attack from Cheltenham, James Adamson spotted a cutting Tom Blunsden. who took his chance but was denied by a last gasp save by the Bath keeper with seconds left in the game.
The final whistle blew and the game ended 8-8.
Cheltenham were upbeat and happy with the performance from the new debutants and with some more work to be done in training, look very promising for the season ahead.
Tom Blunsden -2
David Lennox – 2
James Adamson – 1
Tim Snelson – 1
Jack Lesneiwski- 1
Dan Martin – 1
Man of the Match – Tom Harris
Excellent display in defense, leading by example and playing an integral part in the team’s counter-attacks
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Goalkeeper James Lloyd joined Cheltenham in 2016. Along with Cheltenham, honours are West 2 league winners, Minor flag winners and Cotswold 2 league winners. Also won the Home internationals with Wales in 2019.