Old heads and experience: Nairn Scobie and Alan Meikle shake hands after a hard fought match.
An important 3 points gained through sheer grit and determination.
Uddingston came out all guns blazing this afternoon in this must-win game. Sitting on only three points and bottom of the league, every game has been a must-win game, week after week; and the pressure's been constant as they've tried, in vain, to screw out more points in their endeavour to stay up in National 1.
Today they doubled those points and stepped up to second bottom with a hard fought win, against a Hillhead side, that quite frankly, gave them a real beating on the grand opening day of their new water based astro, down in Uddingston at the start of the season. Today Uddingston looked like a side that wanted - apart from everything else at stake - to right that wrong from last September. And today, compared to that first encounter, they looked far more organised and without doubt, and through obvious necessity, far more determined, considering they've been looking down the tunnel of relegation for most of the season since that first game.
Well, they were out of the blocks first today with some really excellent attacking hockey - and 10 minutes in they were rewarded with their first goal, courtesy of a penalty corner, despatched with efficiency by one of their most experienced players, Stephen Percy. And then elevating the joy further, 8 minutes later they found themselves 0-2 up after some great build up play saw one of their young guns, Malaysian player Tengku, scoring a brilliant reverse stick strike high into the Hillhead net. Tengku's speed and great stick skills had been causing Hillhead a lot of problems: there was an inevitability about this goal coming from him.
Despite being 0-2 down Hillhead never really looked out of it and had had a number of attacks themselves, but they were more counter attacks against an Uddingston side that definitely had more of the pressure, certainly in the first half. However, Hillhead crawled back into the game, starting with a goal themselves only five minutes after Uddingston's second, thanks to Chris Wilson who pounced on a deflection from the Uddy keeper. Hillhead is a side at the moment wracked with injury problems - and those problems were compounded today with Ewan Campbell hobbling off with a pulled hamstring only two minutes in. But with that goal scored and the definite realisation that Uddingston were on a mission here, Hillhead picked themselves up and really got down to business.
The second half saw Hillhead doing to Uddingston what Uddingston had done to them in the first half, as they pressed forward far more, looking for that all-important equaliser. Hillhead really did have a number of chances - possibly enough chances to win the game, but Uddingston's defence were solid under pressure and coped well under fire despite some close calls. And they held on long enough to hear that final whistle and celebrate a victory that could ultimately mean so much when it comes to their destiny next season.
Some great hockey played by both sides - particularly Uddingston - in a tough, physical game that saw the "Uddy" first past the line through the sheer determination and grit that they really need now, as they head into their last three matches. Team performances: Hillhead ★★★☆☆ Uddingston ★★★★☆