Report Author: Alex Wilmshurst
Game: Exeter 2s vs SUWPC Men’s 1s
Location: Plymouth Life Centre
There had been a lot of talk leading up to this fixture. Previous fixtures against Exeter 2s this year have had some turbulence. Our scheduled away fixture in October ended up with SUWPC conceding a walk-over after what will be described as an admin oversight. Exeter made the journey to Southampton in December; a game which they decided to cause a stir (see match report titled ‘The Circus’ for more info). This fixture undoubtedly beats these two to having the most “complications”.
The fixture had been scheduled to be played at Jubilee, a five-minute walk for myself and a 2.5-hour journey for Exeter. However, instead, it was to be played in Plymouth, a 3.25-hour journey for SUWPC and a 1-hour journey for Exeter. Cumulatively, 1.66 hours longer travel time for the two teams. The reason for this was Exeter’s insistence to playing in a double deep pool, which they initially claimed for their home pool was (with a shallow end depth of 1.25m). After accepting that their pool didn’t meet their own specifications, Exeter graciously forked out to hire Plymouth’s Olympic standard diving pit. They gave us the comfortable timeframe of 6 days to organise our own plans to get to the pool and organise a team.
Despite what seemed to be Exeter’s best efforts to ensure we were unable to make the fixture, SUPWC’s took 8 of their biggest boys down to the South-West. A range of experience on show in the travelling team; what could’ve been the last BUCs fixture for captain Tom Bragg was contrasted by the first appearance for James Dighton. With only 8 players available for this game, we knew we needed to be conservative and ensure that we managed our majors, as to not end with less than 7 people in the water. However, this appeared to be very quickly forgotten.
The first quarter started and SUWPC’s biggest boys wanted to get a strong foothold in the game. A first goal came from Sam Wilmshurst as he caught them sleeping on the counter and slotted the ball to the keeper’s right. This was followed by two goals from the day’s top scorer Sam Dalton. The quarter ended 3-0 to SUWPC, shutting out Exeter, but with a handful of ejections; most notably 2 for Edoardo Barberi.
In the second quarter, SUWPC wanted to keep up the tempo from the first quarter. However, the boys were given a blow as Edoardo picked up his third major. Less than one minute into the second quarter, Edoardo conceded a penalty to Exeter. This forced him to be removed from the pool and leaving us without a substitute. With things not going to plan for SUWPC, it preceded to get worse. Receiving his second major for voicing his disappointment for conceding a foul, Jake Mean was one major away from also being ejected. At this prospect, the plan was to keep him free of majors until the end of the second quarter and have him replace Tom Bragg in goal. However, this plan was to be scuppered as Jake received his third ejection for being unable to back away a metre from a foul. 6 players then remained in the pool. SUWPC were to play little over half the game with one less player. Despite the departures, the quarter ended 8-3 to SUWPC. Three goals coming from Sam Dalton; a nice little scooped goal from myself and a goal that was not written on the match sheet. Maybe Exeter wanted to gift us for our logistical problems.
The situation SUWPC’s biggest boys found themselves in was not one that we had planned. Edoardo and Jake got to sit back and relax, whilst the rest of us slogged our arses off. Emphasis was now put on maintaining a solid defence to prevent Exeter from getting a grip on the game. This was fantastically helped by the selflessness of Ed Brett and James Dighton, who sat deep and defended as if their lives depended on it. It was at this point, Sam Dalton decided that the game was to become shooting practice. We started to replicate Tony Pulis’ Stoke City; sitting deep, winning the ball and throwing it up to our target man. Route 1 water polo isn’t a tactic often deployed in the highest level of water polo, but it was working for us. It seemed every time Dalton received the ball, a goal followed. Two defenders weren’t enough to contain the man. With this system, Exeter managed one measly goal; whilst Dalton managed 5.
Coming into the final quarter, SUWPC’s biggest boys started to realise they were high and dry. Exeter were simply unable to score at a quick enough rate to catch us. Having a 9 goal lead into the final quarter simply was too much. At this point, we were able to start our victory lap. Sam Wilmshurst ventured forward more, displaying some flair over the defending Exeter players. Most notably an impressive back-shot, from 7 metres out to the keeper’s near post. Exeter clawed themselves back slightly, ending up scoring 6 goals. However, we hardly think this is impressive when our goal-keeper was venturing forward for the final 3 minutes.
The game ended 15-10 to SUWPC. We were through to the final, Exeter were dumped out. We had the McWin, they had the McLoss.
The biggest of boys eventually made their way back to Southampton, arriving shortly before 3am, with a perfect condition mini-bus.
We very much look forward to facing both Exeter 2s and Bath 2s in the league next year after Bath’s very unfortunate relegation.
Man of the Match:
Undoubtedly goes to Sam Dalton. I’ve never heard of any SUWPC player scoring 10 goals in a game. Carried the team and allowed us to sit back and defend.
Dick(s) of the Day:
Edoardo and Jake. They must’ve enjoyed their front row seats. Shame there was no refreshments available for them.
Name – Goals/Majors
Tom Bragg – 0/1
Edoardo Barberi – 0/3
Sam Wilmshurst – 3/0
Sam Dalton – 10(!)/0
Jake Bean – 0/3
Alex Wilmshurst – 1/2
James Dighton – 0/0
Ed Brett – 0/1
Fun Fact of the Day:
Data suggests that, statistically, you are guaranteed to score against Exeter 2s in Plymouth if you have either Sam or Wilmshurst in your name.