Huge congratulations are in order for our Men’s 3rd XI who have secured themselves promotion, after winning their match at the weekend. Well done! We saw all our Ladies teams back out on the pitch this week after the half term break. Our Ladies 2nd XI bagged a very important win against Woking to keep promotion hopes in their sights. The Vamps drew and our Ladies 1st and 3rd XI had two very hard matches against strong sides, resulting in losses. And our Men’s 1st and 2nd XI lost.
Men’s 1st XI 0-1 Oxford Hawks
OC 1st XI welcomed league leaders Oxford Hawks to Thames Ditton on a Baltic February Saturday afternoon. The game was slightly delayed by an earlier frozen pitch, allowing the Vets to squeeze in an extra couple of glasses of red at the annual lunch before heading into the cold to support the lads in what promised to be a tight encounter. Hawks knew that a win would all but seal promotion to National League and OCs still have it all to play for to finish in the Bronze medal place. The home side won the toss and elected to defend the pavilion end. As expected, the game started in a relatively cagey fashion with both sides weighing up each other’s tactics. Both sides engineered a couple of chances but the majority of the first half was played between the twenty-five yard lines with circle entries relatively rare. On the stroke of half time, OCs conceded a controversial corner which was duly converted by the Hawks corner specialist into the top bin to see OCs trail 1-0 at half time.
The management made a few tweaks at the half but in general demanded more of the same knowing that three points were there for the taking. The game began to open up in the second half with both starting to create more chances. OCs were grateful that Doble was able to smother a couple of Hawks chances, whilst at the other end almost drew level as Croker took it round the keeper but was unable to find the backboard. Soon after, Hill found himself through one on one with the keeper after a glorious Murphy aerial but was unable to convert despite some spectators questioning whether the keeper was five. The match opened up further as Wiseman was the first to see green for a reverse stick tackle. However, Hawks were soon found themselves down to ten for persistent breakdown of play. Laidman went close in the final minutes of the game with a deflection from the penalty spot that sailed just over the bar and the home side were then grateful to him in the last minute for hooking a Hawks drag flick off the line, reminiscent of his Surrey 2nd XI days.
A decent performance from the home side but unfortunately not quite enough to upset a good performance from the league leaders. OCs look forward to Indian Gymkhana next week in a 430 pushback under the Heathrow planes.
Men’s 2nd XI 4-5 Camberley & Farnborough 1s
Match Report to follow
Men’s 3rd XI 3-0 Camberley & Farnborough 2s
Yet another “is it on is it off weekend” which prompted some to threaten to miss the game through doing errands, Lewi hibernating, Grimer anticipating the game was off without taking any heed of the email from our skipper that the game was on UNLESS told that the game was off and the skipper and Mez wasting a day in Edinburgh. The list for the choice of dick of the day exceeded the number of wins the England rugby team has at Murrayfield this century, a number that has not increased since 2016 and which will not increase this side of the 2020’s. The choice for dick of the day was a close run thing and between Lewi the harvest mouse and Eds. Eds wins due to his being the first OC skipper to be absent in a foreign country when his team wins promotion for the 4th successive season. Between Lewi and Eds we have now paid for the two penalty spots on our new astro.
As the temperature started to rise alarmingly from 0 to 2 degrees at 09.20 the Camberley team started to pitch up. Long faces as they threw balls in the air that didn’t bounce when landing on the pitch. In their ignorance of TD they assumed this was due to frost still being in the pitch. Those in the know prepared to start at 10.15 knowing the pitch was nearing normality. Rippers assisted by driving JJ’s golf cart with brush attached around the pitch to, as we all know, no effect, with us all hoping he would roll the unstable vehicle. JJ had been called in by Georgie for ignoring her instruction to grow up and not use his boy toy.
Anyway, to avoid Merton like tantrums of “this pitch is too frozen to be safe” we quite simply prevented the oppo from coming into our 25 all first half where any residuary frost was lying. Fair to say the first exchange of hockey was interesting. They had the push back and we won a long corner without touching the ball, Hunts took the corner and ran into the D unchallenged, passed the ball to Patrick who did his utmost to not score but luckily came across a keeper who fell over whilst Paddy topped the ball across the line. 20 seconds gone and 1-0 up. The rest of the first half was really non descript as we seemed intent on relying on Camberley to self destruct each time we approached the 25 rather than play sensible hockey. We did create chances that went begging and one corner which saw a CB scoop saved. First half highlight was Lewi turning up 20 minutes into the game, only 1 hour 40 minutes past the allocated start time. Some rubbish about traffic issues that seemingly affected no one else.
The second half was better with a purple patch for 15 minutes during which time we scored our second. Our well rehearsed break out from a defensive short corner saw 4 passes from our back line to Knappy who had an open goal saw us go 2 up and kill the game. 5 minutes later a repeat opportunity arose but oddly we did something totally different with everyone in the same positions and we didn’t make it past the oppo’s 25. Al Packer scored our third late on and a grumpy and niggling Camberley side were sent packing back down the M3 and go down in history as the sacrificial lambs for a historic 4th successive promotion for an OC team.
The club missed Ports who was unavailable as he would undoubtedly have relished contributing towards the pitch fund raising during the course of the game. Our juggernaut parks itself at Blenheim School this Saturday with what is bound to be another testing game against Epsom. Doubt Eds and Mezz will be wending their way to Dublin on the 10th but stranger things have happened.
Ladies 1st XI 0-1 London Accademicals
The push back was delayed and anticipation was heightened as The OC’s Ladies 1s prepared themselves for a tough game against the London Academicals, AKA Accies. The air was cold and sharp but the sun was shining and the OCs were fired up for the game ahead.
The OCs, won the toss and opted for first push back. We started strong, passing to the left wing but after a quick transfer pass they lost possession just past half way and The Accies began their first attack. The midfield defended strong and the Oppo striving to get around us. Kate Scott and Emily Stubbs defended the line well and kept the play from progressing. Ali Fox Robinson had a rapid opponent who was very adept at feigning left to right to create space in the middle but she defended relentlessly. We played well and during the first half had a number of shots on goal and kept attacking the Oppo’s D. The Accies were quick and well disciplined but secured no goal. Katie Richards picked up the ball and dribbled to the baseline. A well positioned pass up to the penalty spot was hopeful but not successful. The OCs had a number of short corners, well injected by Emily Stubbs but no goal came. By the end of the first half score line was 0-0.
After a positive and energetic half time talk from coach Dan Osbourne, the OCs came back fighting. They wanted a goal. They attacked down the left and down the right but no result came. More short corners but still no goals. Some fantastic transfers around the defence by Alice Durrans and great attacking play down the left hand side of the pitch from Ali Gostage up to Jackie Waite. The Midfields and the Defence pushed high to support the attack on the D but the OCs couldn’t finish. The Oppo were relentless and after a pass from the right into the middle they had an attack into the D and onto a foot. The advantage was played but the OCs had stopped playing and were half waiting for the short corner. A slow, stray ball dribbled across our line. Score 0-1 to Accies and a tough lesson in playing the whistle was learnt. The OCs did not give up and attacked again and again to try and get the goal back but to no avail. The goal scoring gods were just looking the other way.
A very well played game by the OCs and an unfortunate single goal to make the final score 0-1.
Ladies 2nd XI 2-0 Woking 4s
The OCs Ladies 2s had another critical match ahead of us, playing third in the division Woking. Despite the severe chill in the air, we were all raring to go (though Sangster was a tad quieter than normal!) and we were determined to continue the great standard of hockey that we feel we are playing.
After whipping Mags away from umpiring the 1s match, Hels put her driving skills to the test and arrived with enough time to warm up and get up to speed with the team tactics. We knew we had to stay strong, and we did. We passed successful, transferring around the back with confidence and breaking into the D early on. Despite feeling the worse for wear, Sangster fired an awesome cross over to Kara, who picked out up on her reverse stock and slipped it between the keepers pads. We continued to have many close calls but their keeper (good friends with our very own Evie) played a stormer and kept put efforts at bay. At times our play became slightly panicky, and Evie and the defence line had some serious work to do, but they did it brilliantly. Half time gave us the chance to regroup and calm down back into our game.
In the second half, our attacking shots continued and we were finally rewarded with a penalty flick when a Woking player stopped a shot on goal with her foot on the line. With great composure, our kiwi striker nailed the flick and secured our 2-0 lead.
Thanks to awesome team work, communication, determination and skill, we held the lead to win. Congratulations to Evie for winning a very well deserved player of the match, she was a demon. Thanks to Mags for umpiring, and The Stig/Hels for bringing her , and to Liz and Dan for their understanding!
Ladies Vamps 0-0 Croydon & Old Whitgift
Level in the league, game was as expected, with end to end play and several opportunities missed by both teams, in particular Croydon who literally did not have any luck on their side, thank goodness. Jane had a couple of opportunities from a hard ball into the “D” and hope it hits the spot but opportunities were far less for the Vamps. A slightly less angry Croydon this time and no swearing that we can recall, made it a nicer game. Probably the score line was about right and one point is a positive.
Ladies 3rd XI 0-3 EUHC Gamblers
Match report to follow.