Trzeciak delivers the knock out blow

Event: Bristol and West Cup Teams: Swindon Dolphin v Welsh Wanderers Venue: Milton Road, Swindon Date: 14th April 2013

Swindon Dolphin secured a place in the second round of the Bristol & West Water Polo league KO Cup with a thrilling 18 – 17 victory over Welsh Wanderers of the Premier Division at Milton Road.

Lining up for Wanderers, who last season finished seventh in the national rankings and qualified for the British Championships, was the outstanding Dan Laxton, who narrowly missed selection for Team GB’s water polo squad for London 2012.  Laxton posed a constant menace and it was Dolphin’s pre-occupation with negating his threat which led to the home side having their four goal start in the handicapped tournament written off by the end of the first quarter.  Despite Chris Selby extending the lead within minutes of the swim off, Wanderers dominated, scoring six goals without reply as defensive gaps were ruthlessly exploited.  Andy Strong equalised just before the break but Dolphin were pleased to see the end of a torrid opening period.

Swindon regrouped during the interval and shored up the defence by going man-to-man and this tactic changed the game.  Wanderers started strongly but struggled to adapt to the home side’s new game plan and unanswered goals from Selby, Strong and a brace from Matt James saw Dolphin well on top.  Wanderers again fought back though and at the half way point had reduced the arrears to one, a lead that Dolphin still held after a tense third period which saw the teams share six goals, Dave Quinlivan and Strong twice netting for Swindon whilst stand-in keeper Will Smith made a number of important saves.  This was great team work by Dolphin and the spirit was epitomised by the tireless efforts from the bench of Dan Dixon.

The game opened up in the fourth quarter as the attacks gained the upper hand and both teams took it in turn to edge ahead.  Goals from  Quinlivan and Selby and another two strikes from James saw Dolphin leading 17 – 16 as the game entered its last minute before the dangerous Laxton struck for the Welsh to set up a grandstand finish.  With just 15 seconds on the clock a steal by Dolphin set up the decisive counter attack and Michal Trzeciak coolly completed an excellent win for the underdogs.

Injured captain Andy Hicks was full of praise for the team.  “This was a tough game and the team’s heads never dropped.  I was particularly pleased with the way the players adapted to the tactical change.”  This was a superb win for Swindon Dolphin and the team will now be aiming to maintain their early season form as they enter a period of regular matches.

Team D Quinlivan (2 goals, 3 majors), C Selby (3 goals, 2 majors), W Smith, A Strong (4 goals), D Dixon (2 majors), I brewer (2 majors), M James (4 goals, 2 majors), M Lawlor, M Trzeciak (1 goal, 1 major).

Swindon Dolphin’s next home fixture is against Newton Abbot at Milton Road on Sunday 28th April, 8.30pm start.

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