|June 26, 2011||2:30 pm||BAFA NL II East||2011|
6 - 19Full Time
The Spartans travelled to Watford to face off against the Cheetahs, and returned home with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths for the first time this season after a 19-6 loss.
As the sun beat down on the grassy field, the Spartans struggled, unable to make any impact on the match. Uncharacteristic mistakes combined with some pure bad luck made it an uphill struggle for the team, and with Watford able to convert turnovers to points, the Spartans saw first place in the Division slip through their fingers.
In a tight contest between two evenly-matched teams, it was the visitors who drew first blood. Quarterback James Woodward threw a perfect pass to offensive captain Jon Tottman, who displayed great acceleration to tear through the Cheetahs defense for a long score. Although the conversion attempt failed, the Spartans took a deserved 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
The relentless heat was taking its toll on both squads, and points were at a premium. The Cheetahs were able to move downfield, but had to settle for a field goal as the Black Tide stood firm, preserving the lead with the score at 6-3.
However, today was not to be the Spartans day, and an unlucky fumble was returned by the fortunate Cheetahs for the go-ahead score. With the conversion, the home team had jumped into a 10-6 lead, and for only the second time this season, the Spartans went into the halftime break trailing.
The second half saw both teams struggle to take a firm hold of the game. The Cheetahs extended their lead with the only points of the third quarter, a field goal to make the score 13-6. The Spartans went into the final quarter knowing that if they were to win, and preserve their unbeaten season, they needed to score a touchdown. Their backs were against the wall.
They fought hard. They fought fair. But some days, things just don’t go your way. And as time ran down, the Cheetahs scored another touchdown to push further ahead 19-6.
Defensive captain Ally Minto intercepted the Cheetahs quarterback to give the Spartans hope, but it was not to be – another Spartans drive ended with a turnover, and with the victory secure, the Cheetahs quarterback took a knee to end the match.
A reflective Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders said, “This loss was obviously disappointing for the entire Spartan family. However, we must now re-focus on our remaining games in order to correct the mistakes we made this weekend.”
If we should lose – we’ll stand by the road – and cheer as the winners go by.
The Cheetahs played mistake-free football, and were able to capitalise on the errors made by the visitors. But the Spartans can take some comfort in knowing that, although they lost, they fought hard, and with the pride and passion that have become cornerstones of this season. The home team described the Spartans as “a class outfit” – and the officials were quick to add their own plaudits for the way the team performed.
The loss drops the Spartans into second place in the Division with three games remaining. The Division Title is still well within grasp of the team, but to do so, they know they must win all of their remaining matches. And that starts with the Maidstone Pumas, who visit Hannakins Farm on July 10th.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm, and with the team knowing only a victory is acceptable, they would encourage any fans, old or new, to come down and cheer them on as the push for the playoffs intensifies.
The heat, and the Cheetahs, may have cooled the Black Tide – but it hasn’t been stopped. It won’t be stopped. It can’t be stopped.
July 10th. Hannakins Farm, Billericay. Maidstone Pumas. Watch the Black Tide bounce back!