Waking up to harsh reality

THE Albury-Wodonga Strikers have suffered their second defeat in as many weeks, going down 1-0 to Central.

And an undermanned Spitfires were treated to a hockey clinic by back-to-back premiers Central with a 12-1 thrashing.

There was also another blow for the men, already missing 11 of their squad to injury — captain Tony Donnolley will miss at least a week after injuring his hamstring on Saturday at the National Hockey Centre in Canberra.

Strikers coach Tony Jones rated his back five as their best players, including keeper Sam Campbell.

“That gives you an idea of where the game was played,” he said.

“They scored midway through the first half and the girls in the back half were under pressure for most of the second half.

“We had our chances but couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We weren’t creative enough to force the short corners.

“We played the 70 minutes without a short corner and, if we are having trouble scoring, we need short corners to give us a chance from set plays.”

Jones said two easy wins to start the year had given the Strikers a false impression of the standard of hockey in the Capital League.

“Central is by far and away the best side we have played,” he said.

“These teams in the top half of the competition don’t give an inch, the game is very physical.

“The team on Saturday was in the four last year and next week we take on the premiers.”

The Spitfires had their hands full against a team looking for threepeat and boasting six players in the Lakers, the ACT’s national hockey league side.

“The boys we had out there in the first half were shellshocked,” coach Matt Smart said.

“The speed and the quality of passing was unbelievable.

“We weren’t playing bad, we just weren’t in their class.

“To the boys credit, we came out in the second half and kept them scoreless for 25 minutes before they scored from all but one of five short corners in the last 10 minutes.

“That first half was a clinic on how to pass the ball, how to defend.

“Donnolley’s injury and another hamstring injury means we now have 13 of the original squad unavailable.

“The upside is that eventually they will all come back into the team but, at the moment, just a few would be nice.”