A FOUR-goal blitz in the opening 17 minutes helped Souths to an important 5-1 win over Orange Wanderers in men’s Premier League Hockey on Saturday.
The two blues were dominant from start to finish at the Cooke Hockey Complex and realistically could have won by a lot more had their conversion been slightly better in the first half.
A week earlier Kent Bestwick’s side had been well below their best in an upset 2-0 loss to the battling Lithgow Zig Zag, but there was no hangover from that performance.
“If we can continue to do what we did in the first half of this game into the second halves we will match the top sides, the intensity was very high early on,” Bestwick said.
“Our one per centers, our basics, were spot on early and that’s what led to all the goals.
“We didn’t quite get the outcomes we were looking for when we went to the circle - we only got one or two short corners for the game - but we were scoring goals.
“In other matches we’ve had a thousand corners and haven’t scored a thing.”
“We’d given Souths a bit of a touch up in the last game or two and we expected they’d have plenty of motivation when they started, so it didn’t surprise me that they were that strong early on"
After an energetic start it took just five minutes for the hosts to get on the board.
It came thanks to a perfect overhead pass from Bryce Hitchcock which was put away from a tight angle by Josh Sherwani.
Within another five minutes they had doubled their lead via a thumping shot from Chris Stafford into the top left corner, again from a tight angle.
By the 14-minute mark, alarm bells were ringing for Wanderers as Chris Hanrahan scored his team’s third field goal.
Mike Stanford and Jono Baillie then got themselves into a two-on-one situation with Orange goalkeeper Darryl Kennewell, with Baillie slotting the goal to cap a brilliant start for Souths.
After battling to string together consecutive passes early, Orange finally started to get a share of possession but didn’t look threatening as half-time approached.
They got their lone clear-cut opportunity through Keegan Brooke 30 seconds from half-time but he put it over the goal as the home side took a 4-0 lead to the break.
Wanderers had the better of things early in the second stanza and earned a penalty corner but couldn’t finish it. They soon paid the price.
Stafford was on the end of a long, fast break and scored his second, effectively ending any hope of an Orange win.
To their credit the Wanderers didn’t pack it in and pressed more and more as the game went on. They earned four second-half penalty corners.
They got on the board through Nick Sharp with the second of those corners, and finished strongly enough for coach Beth Shea to take some positives from the match.
“We’re building a new side and working on concepts that we think will help us in the longer term,” she said.
“Every week I see just a little bit more improvement towards that, it is gradually starting to happen.
“We have two very young midfielders in Hayden Dillon and Adam Skelton and they are getting better every week.
“We’d given Souths a bit of a touch up in the last game or two and we expected they’d have plenty of motivation when they started, so it didn’t surprise me that they were that strong early on.”
BATHURST SOUTHS 5 (Chris Stafford 2, Josh Sherwani, Jono Baillie, Chris Hanrahan) def ORANGE WANDERERS 1 (Nick Sharp)