Indies lay down a marker as they start title defence

THE champions are up and running in their title defence.

And despite the comfortable 4-0 margin of victory over Casuals in the Division One curtain-raiser on Saturday afternoon, Indies and their rivals – both those they were facing on the pitch and also the interested observers from Yobbos and Colombians in the stand – will know that there is more to come from the men in orange, who still have a few more gears to move through.

But for starters Tom Still will be more than satisfied with his side’s opening-day performance that saw them score twice in each half while at the other end goalkeeper Rob Turville was required to touch the ball just once in open play.

It was not that Casuals were pushovers, far from it, and they had more than than their fair share of possession, but without the prowess of Andy Whalley, they lacked a cutting edge going forward and must have looked on with envy at the clinical nature of the opposition’s finishing.

Both sides created a good chance in the opening five minutes with Adrian Gidney saving from Brad Norman at one end before, just a few seconds later, Cameron Rivers-Moore ended a terrific solo run by firing not far over the bar at the other.

However, soon the majority of the opportunities were being created by Indies with Jake Swaisland not far wide with his reverse-stick effort before the deadlock was broken in the 10th minute as Island forward Josh Kendal fired through a crowded D into the bottom corner giving Gidney no chance.

As they pushed for a second, Indies forced a couple of penalty-corners but looked rusty in their execution as those set-pieces came to nothing before they briefly lost some momentum when Swaisland became the first of three players to be shown a green card during the match.

Once they were back up to a full complement, though, Indies doubled their lead on 22min. thanks to the first bit of Steve Waldrom magic of the season.

Jack Smart and Louis Steyn were involved in the build up down the centre of the pitch before Waldrom took possession in the D with his back to goal.

With a neat bit of control and a slight feint, he got Gidney to commit to a dive before cleverly lifting his finish over the keeper and into the net.

Waldrom very nearly turned provider three minutes later as, after good work initially from Norman, he smashed a fierce drive across the face of goal from the right-hand side but the ball was travelling too quickly for Sam Ferry to manipulate his body position at the far post and he was unable to turn it home.

Within a minute, Indies won back-to-back penalty-corners and from the second of them the ball sat up invitingly for Waldrom, but the man who recently helped Irregulars win the 80-Ball Challenge Cup in cricket hit a shot more appropriate for the KGV rather than Footes Lane as his volley flew high over the bar and also the fence, much to his own disgust as the gap remained two at half-time.

At the start of the second half, Liam Rivers-Moore came close to halving the deficit for Casuals having been picked out by Alex Bushell’s quick and direct free-hit, but after a neat piece of control, the youngster’s shot flew just wide of the far post.

Had that gone in, it might have changed the complexion of the match.

But as it was, Casuals created very little in the remaining half-hour.

Tom Still scores the third Indies goal. (Picture by Martin Gray, 29978927)

At the other end, though, Gidney pulled off an outstanding reaction save with his left-hand as Waldrom attempted another lifted finish following a slick interchange with Alex Setters, who moments later drew a more regulation save out of the Casuals keeper.

With 11 minutes remaining, Indies extended their lead with Waldrom and Setters joined on a quick counter-attack by their captain and it was Still who fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the D.

The scoring was complete five minutes from time as Casuals failed to clear an Indies short-corner and having kept the ball alive for a prolonged period, the oranges were rewarded as Smart found the target from close range.

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