24 August 2016 – The Saint Andrews 1st XI faced the Grey 1st XI at Grey College on Monday evening in the final of the Bloemfontein Schools 1st Hockey League. Although they had handed Grey a 4-2 defeat earlier in the season, coach Siya Lusiba’s team, which featured only two matric boys, went into the clash as the underdogs.
After the opening whistle sounded, Grey settled better than Saints, although Saints were the first to earn a penalty corner in the contest. Grey, though, were moving the ball more fluently around the back and thus enjoyed the better of possession.
The home side then took the lead from a drag flick at a penalty corner in the 14th minute after Saint Andrew’s had been penalised for a stick tackle inside their 23-metre area.
Saints, unfortunately, did themselves no favours by having three boys carded in the first half for relatively minor offences. Just before the half-time whistle that came back to bite Dilivio Ridgard and his team when Grey doubled their advantage with a well-taken goal after a sharp one-two exposed goalkeeper Stefano Aresti.
Saints put the pressure on Grey from a penalty corner early in the second half of the League final
After the break, Saint Andrew’s were a much-improved team, surging onto the attack and immediately forcing a penalty corner. Grey, though, stood firm and managed to net a third goal when they scrambled a ball just over the Saints’ goal-line.
Showing admirable character, with strong singing support from the boys on the sidelines, Saints, rather than folding, upped their game. The pressure they exerted on Grey was shown when Grey boys were twice green-carded for preventing Saint Andrew’s from taking quick hits.
With four minutes remaining in the game, captain Dilivio Ridgard, showing excellent anticipation, intercepted a Grey pass and raced into the home team’s circle. He fired off a strong reverse stick shot, but his effort was narrowly wide of the goalkeeper’s right hand post.
Still Saints kept pressing and they were finally rewarded in the last minute when they broke clear down the left. A bad tackle, which earned a Grey defender a yellow card at the conclusion of the movement, failed to stop the Saint Andrew’s attack and Jonno Watkins made it count, finishing accurately to the keeper’s left to score a consolation goal for Saints.
The early evening match drew a good crowd, with Saints later earning praise from Grey parents for the outstanding support of the schoolboys, parents and teachers. In fact, the blue of Saint Andrew’s supporters was by far the most prominent colour on the night.