Another strong league weekend with comprehensive wins for the top three sides, keeping the 2nd XI and 3rd XI at the top of their leagues, but a surprise loss to the bottom side for the 4th XI
Banbury 2-8 1st XI
On the back of a 9-0 win of Guildford last week, the OCs’ confidence was riding high. Undeterred by going a soft-goal down early on, the boys hit back straight away with a classic Harman J/Harman P link up in the D for a score that even our historically goal-shy skipper couldn’t miss. From then on, there was no looking back. Shortly afterwards, a still-drunk Harman J, who’d rolled in at 3am from an absolutely huge night in east London and said nothing about it on game day, failed to get anywhere near a well-struck cross into the D. But when the ball ricocheted off a Banbury defender and past the keeper into the net, all the boys went cock-a-hoop, leaving the umpires with no doubt at all that the score was now 2-1.
Feeling understandably aggrieved, the opposition went completely postal at this point and spent the rest of the match throwing their toys all over both the pitch and the bench. Their moods weren’t helped by a frenetic 15 minutes at the end of the first half which saw the visitors go into the break 4-1 up through a Murphy dragflick and a lovely passing move between Mo, Harry, and ultimately Murphy again. The bout of histrionics that immediately followed half time saw five Banbury yellow cards, one of which was for the coach of the side, whose pre-watershed description of the umpire was deemed ‘too hot for TV’. Regrettably, the entire spectacle was being filmed by a drone hovering ominously (and quite annoyingly) above the pitch, and though a family screening had been scheduled for mid-week, Banbury were heard instructing the drone’s operator to destroy the footage immediately. Quite right too.
The OCs continued to score at regular intervals throughout the game, eventually winning 8-2 after a goal-of-the-game deflection from Harman P, a cheeky near-post slap at a short corner from Hugh ‘John Cena’ Robinson, and two more smartly taken goals from Murphy. The token Irish has now scored 26 goals this season, making him the league’s top goal scorer. Long may that continue.
But despite this relatively plain-sailing, the boys were clearly not happy to let Banbury be sole enemies of the peace. Robbo was given a five minute breather for not retreating five, and Harman J drew heavy criticism (and a near unanimous dick of the day vote) from all and sundry after his now trademark chuck off the pitch to relieve the pressure. All of this paled in comparison to Mo’s effort to balance out the wrongdoing, however. In what he later described as ‘handbags at dawn’, Mo saw red after reacting to an unsporting stick in the back with a retaliatory flash of his own blade. It is not yet known if there’ll be an appeal, but in case there is, let the record show that the red card was completely unjustified. Mo was trying to flick a wasp off the opposition player’s body, he didn’t say ‘he hit me so I hit him’ as he was walking off, and in fact there is now some doubt as to whether Mo was even the player involved. We expect a full exoneration.
An ugly match, but a comprehensive victory and signs that the lads are really starting to hit their straps. 17 goals in two games and only one side has scored more goals this season. That side is London Edwardians, who the OCs host next week. Get down to the club for what promises to be a goal fest.
2nd XI 7-0 EUHC Gamblers
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This week saw the OC’s face a tough top of the table clash against 3rd place, a win was essential. With the near trauma of the previous week behind them the OC’s set out to send a message to the league that they had no intention of giving up their spot at the top.
The game started tentatively with EUHC setting an aggressive an high press. OC’s knew they couldn’t keep the intensity up for the whole game and sat back happily absorbing the pressure. As soon as the pressure started to subdue it was now time for the OC’s to show their firepower. After finally managing to string a series of passes together the OC’s punched straight through the Gamblers defence and won a penalty corner which Jimmy Smith slotted convincingly down the centre of the goal for his 21st of the season. EUHC were clearly shocked and never really fully recovered from the sudden switch that the OC’s had flicked. The rest of the first half continued in the similar manner with the OC’s knocking the ball around EUHC who played a role similar to ‘man in crowd 4’ during the filming of Ben Hur. Shortly after slotting the 1st Chris Wiseman walked into EUHC D and slotted one. 2-0. The game restarted and the OC’s pressure continued. Another short corner had been long coming and Jimmy Webber chucked another one down the centre. This time the keeper saved it… but only managed to palm it into the groin of his centre-back on the line. The resulting penalty flick was slotted by Jimmy to make it 22 for the season, and give OC’s a 3-0 lead into the break.
The half-time team talk was full of inspiration as usual and the OC’s continued their form into the second half. Before EUHC had even had time to digest their halftime oranges the OC’s had already won another short corner. This time Jimmy decided to mix things up and put it an inch inside the left post. 4-0 and his 23rd for the season. The OC’s knew that the game was over, but that it was all to play for in the season and that there was a high chance their dreams of promotion would come down to goal difference so we decided to be relentless. Jimmy Smith made it 5-0, followed quickly by another Webber inch perfect flick (6-0), before Jimmy Smith finished it off with a ‘tap in’ to make it 7-0.
A superb team performance across the board from a rock solid defence, great saves from Ross Kingsnorth, a tireless Ben Marchant to an outstanding forward line. The OC’s will need to take this performance into the weekend where they face a tricky away game v. Cheam.
Cheam 0-3 3rd XI
Another win keeps the unbeaten 3rd XI on course for promotion by mid March, but it was a game which was utterly forgetable and one in which we again struggled to play well against a side who defended in depth and look to hit us on the counter. Cheam competed hard in the first half and caused us problems with a series of good aerials. While we had the lions’ share of possession we did little with it, the only goal going our way courtesy of a typically tumbling strike from David Knapp on 15 minutes, and even when we did the Cheam keeper had an excellent match. A silky solo effort from Cato ten minutes into the second half wrapped up the win – Cheam were less threatening after the break – and Farqs added a third ten minutes from time. But it was a tetchy affair riddled with mistakes and frustration which is best forgotten.
4th XI 2-5 Leatherhead
On paper this was a game the in-form 4th XI should have won. We came into it unbeatne in five and with a strong squad while Leatherhead were bottom of the league and without a win in four months. So much for form. Leatherhead’s defence was packed with experience and they repeatedly hit us on the break. This was proof that dominating possession only matters if you do something with it. We created a shedload of chances but missed far too many, and even when we managed to get one on target the Leatherhead keeper was in good form. At half-time we were 1-2 down, and the harder we pressed to get back into the game the more room we gave for Leatherhead’s quick forward who finished with a hat-trick. A fair result and a deserved win for the visitors.
Horsham 4-1 Mixed XI
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Our EHA Mixed Cup campaign came to an end on the inside lane of the A24 (nothing like sport to enable you to inhale deep lungfulls of remoreseless traffic) against a Horsham side who were stronger in depth and deserving of their win. Although we took an early lead, thereafter we had to weather a lot of pressure and it was not overly surprising when Horsham levelled shortly before half-time. The key goal – their second – owed a lot to some interesting interpretations of the rules, but that should not take away from a professional performance from the home side. We had our best chances in the last ten minutes but by then the tie was settled. Nonetheless, really heartening to see us field such a strong mixed side and this bodes well for the coming years.
Woking 1-1 Vamps
Hamstrings 3-5 Sevenoaks