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This week's offering with Formby Men's Hockey

Chester 3 - 3 Formby Formby managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory when they conceded a gopal with less than two minutes left of their Northern Premier League match. The game survived overnight frost which put paid to the entire home match schedule at the Club, and started on a dull day in Chester. Formby were quickly on the attack as Felipe Davis-Guzman's forward dart won a free hit in the Chester 22 which resulted in a penalty corner when Rob Baxter took it quickly and Put Davis-Guzman through into the circle where a defender's foot brought the award. Josh Birtles's effort was blocked away to the left, though, and Chester broke quickly, catching the Formby defence out of position. The ball was worked from right to left before being fired into the circle where a deflection carried it past Sam Birtles. James Riley and Felipe Davis-Guzman then combined well before the latter was robbed on the point of shooting. Back came Chester and won a penalty corner, from which Birtles saved well before the rebound was slammed into the goal only for the umpire to disallow it as the ball hadn't been allowed to leave the circle from the injection before the first effort. The Davis-Guzman brothers then caused panic in the Chester defence and Formby has a second penalty corner. Josh Birtles tried to set up Will Miles for a shot but his pass wasn't accurate and Miles's effort was at full stretch, lacked real power, and was saved. Felipe Davis-Guzman was then clearly fouled under the umpire's nose but nothing was given. However, Formby recovered possession through Baxter who squared the ball to Miles at the top of the Chester circle and his snap shot found the bottom left corner of the goal, giving the 'keeper no chance. Parity lasted only about a minute, as some very sloppy defence allowed the ball through to a Chester forward near the left post, who deflected it into the goal. Formby came back and a Sachin Sharma cross was missed by all his team-mates before the 'keeper left it only to see it rebound off the post and be scrambled away. Formby continued to press and Adrian Nash was brought down by the 'keeper, only for the umpire to wave play on as he said he'd got the ball - he had, but he only moved the ball a yard or so, and then got Nash afterwards, preventing him from picking it up. Suffice it to observe that it was clearly to the Chester coach's huge relief that nothing was given (it would have had to be a penalty stroke). From the resulting sideline hit, Formby won a third penalty corner, but again couldn't turn it into a goal as Birtles's final effort was saved. From the long corner, they did, however, draw level as Miles fired the ball to Ricky Davis-Guzman, whose initial deflection was unlucky to collide with the 'keeper's stick (he knew little about it!). Fortunately the rebound fell obligingly to Davis-Guzman, who couldn't miss from about a yard with an open goal. There was just time before half-time for James Riley to have a shot from a Sharma cross deflected wide, and for Harry Williams, who had been defending superbly, to be shown a green card for an elbow that seemed pretty much 50/50 between him and his opponent. Formby were then nearly undone by a long aerial, but captain Giles Hampson made a fine tackle on the edge of his circle in a 3-on-1 situation. Formby took control of the game at the start of the second half and Sean Friday just missed a chance from a Baxter cross from the right. Then a penalty corner, won when a determined Miles run into the circle was halted by a crude stick tackle, resulted in a Birtles effort that was wide left. Miles and Adrian Nash then combined well to deliver the ball to Felipe Davis-Guzman whose progress along the right base-line brought only a 22. However, the same mode of attack was repeated from the 22, and when a defender's stick sent Davis-Guzman's cross into the air across the goalmouth, Friday turned it into the goal at shoulder height to put Formby ahead. Williams then received another card, yellow this time, though he was somewhat mystified as to why. This brought some Chester pressure and Formby had to defend a couple of penalty corners, which they managed without undue stress. The umpires then combined to come to a strange decision when Ricky Davis-Guzman slipped as he tried to get round a defender, taking his opponent out inadvertently. Said opponent initially lay on the ground, holding his head as if injured (must have been watching too much Premier League football!), before jumping to his feet and pushing the Formby man in the chest with both hands, before his team-mates threatened to join in. The resulting decision was a green card for both players, when the retaliation surely merited stronger punishment and why Formby were penalised at all wasn't obvious, though one umpire said Davis-Guzman had raised his hands, which he certainly hadn't, being by now a veteran of such situations! Restored to the action two minutes later, Davis-Guzman immediately picked out a superb pass to Ste Wright in the Chester circle. His first touch wasn't his best, but he recovered the ball and fired it back in, hitting a defender's foot for another Formby penalty corner. The attempted switch to Hampson was, unfortunately, deflected away. From the 22, Formby appeared initially to have been awarded another penalty corner (the ball having been played over the back line by a defender), but the umpires conferred and decided it wasn't, before deciding, without any explanation, to restart the game with a bully when a long corner could have been the only other legitimate possibility. Sam Birtles was called upon to make a couple of decent saves, as the Formby defence contrived almost to beat themselves, which they did again. in the 68th minute, conceding another penalty corner (which arguably should have been a stroke). This time Josh Birtles blocked the first effort with his knee - fortunately his protection saved his patella - but the rebound fell to another opponent, who fired in a shot. It was pretty much straight at Sam Birtles, but in his effort to clear it, he got it on the inside of his right pad and it ricocheted through his legs and into the goal. There was time for a final Formby attack, and this appeared to have resulted in a penalty corner as a desperate bit of defending resulted in a Chester player lifting the ball into his own body. The umpire saw it differently, however, and awarded a free hit to the defence for a "swing and a miss" - by Friday - though how what actually happened could be described as dangerous is a mystery. Miles queried this and was doubtless the victim of a case of mistaken identity, as he was yellow-carded for foul language when all he did was tell the official, without the use of adjectives, where the ball had struck the Chester player! He barely had time to leave the pitch before the final whistle brought proceedings to an end. Couple of photos attached - Formby are in red shirts!

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