29.04.07 : Grasshopper Zurich – Servette HC

Sunday the 29th May saw les Grenat travel to Zurich, to face Getz in what many had billed a six pointer. With Zurich just infront of Servette in the league, les Grenat knew that a strong away win, could see them leap frog Getz to third in the league keeping alive title dreams.

It was therefore with a strong squad bristling with internationals and an air of excited anticipation that Servette met early on Sunday morning at the gare Cornavin.

Long away trips with early starts have often been an Achilles heel for Servette but with the signs of a maturing side in evidence Servette started positively against Getz.

The idea had been to play solid and compact in mid field and defence allowing Zurich possession and looking to strike on the counter, a tactic football purists may know as cattenacio.

With this in mind and with what one could only call stifling heat Servette set about there task allowing Zurich possession without facing much threat and with willing runners in Jurka Rickli and Alexi upfront always providing a goal threat, Servette played themselves into the game.

Hard work and discipline paid off in the 20th minute when Zurich sloppily gifted possession to Philip Berhnard, picking up a loose pass in midfield the Swiss international and pinup boy of Servette, Berhnard, drove powerfully into the Zurich D, effortlessly beating the Zurich Keeper with a powerful drive into the bottom corner, 1 – 0 and the coach hadn’t even arrived yet.

As the first half drew on Servette seemed to tire somewhat, in the incredible April heat, and with a sustained period of pressure, leading to a dozen short corners all manfully defended by Zimmerman, Gisin, Granchamp and Montalbetti, Zurich finally converted, scoring a poor short corner, badly executed but rich in fortune.

Half time couldn’t come soon enough!

After the break Servette suffered their customary lapse in concentration, within ten minutes a sloppily conceded short corner, led to an even sloppier goal, with goalkeeper Leblond being unsighted by a Zurich attacker, the sun, the buvette (who knows) allowing a weak push to squirm past him.

2 -1, we had been here before many times, how would we react were we finally begining to turn the corner as a side capable of coming from behind?

Then followed one of the most positive and encouraging periods of hockey in recent times for Servette. Facing a one goal deficit Servette set about grinding out a result, retaining possession and slowly gaining dominance in midfield with the tirless Zimmerman And Peny, les Grenat marched their way up the field putting Zurich under increasing pressure.

Finally Servette were rewarded, a short corner first of the game, and up stepped il Postino (because he always delivers)Thierry Granchamp, and with a slick push out from Laurent Neri, Granchamp unleashed a thunderous drag flick into the top right corner leaving the Zurich keeper a mere spectator, simply waving the ball goodbye.

With scores level and renewed energy, Servette went in search of the win and dominated the remaining ten minutes with Neri having a glorious chance to secure all three points in the 69th minute only being thwarted by some superb defending.

Final Whistle sounded leaving a 2 -2 draw and spoils shared.

Patrick Montalbetti