ORANGE Wanderers kept its slim hopes of a men’s Premier League Hockey finals appearance alive on Saturday afternoon as it pulled off a first in the club’s history – beating St Pat’s.
While the Wanderers had previously drawn with the Saints, Saturday’s 4-1 effort at Bob Roach Field was the first time the Orange outfit had taken full points against the blue and whites.
“We’ve had a pretty good season against them, we had a draw back in Orange earlier in the year,” Wanderers defender Logan Dolbel said.
“We really worked well in defence, everyone got down low and just covered the ball really well. Everyone put their body in and started to move around, especially helping Jake [Skelton, goalkeeper]. A lot came off his pads, but we got a lot of clearance balls away.”
While the scoreline indicated Wanderers won comfortably, that was not the case as the Saints applied plenty of pressure and created more chances in attack.
The difference was Wanderers were able to capitalise inside the circle whereas the Saints could not apply the finishing touches.
The opening 10 minutes highlighted that as the Saints came up empty-handed from three penalty corner plays while Connor Morris found the mark from the set play for Wanderers.
That was one of just clear two shots the visitors had for the opening half, but for the Saints it was a different story.
Isaac Darlington, Blake Davis, Regan Hotham and Shane Conroy were all denied by smart Skelton saves, the Wanderers shot blocker also cutting off a dangerous Darcy Davis cross and pressuring Aiden Charters enough in a one-on-one to see his shot fly wide.
That gave Wanderers a 1-0 lead at half-time – a margin which was doubled 13 minutes after play resumed as Caiden Reddan capitalised on a smart over-head pass.
When Dolbel – who twice cleared Saints shots off the line - pushed forward and scored off Wanderers’ third penalty corner of the match, an upset looked on the cards.
Davis finally got Pat’s on the board with 6½ minutes left as, despite being off-balance, he fired a reverse stick effort into the top of the net. That made it 3-1.
But when Luke Skelton made a smart lead inside the circle to add a fourth for Wanderers with 3.10 left on the clock, any hopes of a late Saints comeback were dashed.
“When they scored that goal I looked at the clock and saw less than 10 minutes to go. I thought ‘Right, they need one goal every five minutes’ I think we can hold them out. But I didn’t feel safe, it was a really good contest,” Dolbel said.
“We were certainly under pressure, but I actually I wasn’t too worried when they were in front of goals, today I think their boys were just lacking. That’s different from those guys, normally when they’re in the circle they are very sharp, especially on the pads of the goalkeeper.”
The win moved Wanderers within four points – one win – of St Pat’s with a round to go but the Saints do boast a significantly better for and against.
“It really depends how we go next weekend and who those guys play, but yeah, it could be interesting,” Dolbel said.
“Everyone really stepped up today, young Sammy Guimelli played his first game today. He was a bit nervous before he got on, but once he got out there he was all over it.”