Our season got well under way this weekend, with both the majority of Men’s and Ladies teams all playing league matches.
Men’s 1st XI 4-2 Milton Keynes
To kick of the 18/19 campaign, OCs made the long trip up the M1 to Milton Keynes on a glorious day, in stark contrast to the snow affected game last year. An almost full strength side included Matt Murphy who, after much consideration, decided he would feel too guilty to watch the Ryder Cup in the Falcon this time. With four sides going up this year, OCs knew that a fast start to the season would be key to challenge for promotion.
The away side controlled the early play, winning an early corner which was well saved by the right postman. OCs continued to apply the pressure winning another corner after some neat work down the right. From the resulting corner, Matt Murphy opened his and the sides account, slotting it past the stranded postman to give Old Cranleighans the early advantage. Soon after it became 2-0, after some intricate play down the right saw Charlie Lamb release Jack Smart into the circle to unleash a reverse that was sailing into the side netting but was poached on the goal line by Jay Harman. The away side wrongly relaxed after this allowing MK to gain a foothold in the game but chances were few and far between until a poor clearance saw the onrushing Josh Doble rounded and the backboard found. One goal separated the teams at the break with the leadership group asking for the game to be put to bed early in the second.
OCs took control after the break, keeping possession for an extended period of time. The pressure soon told and the resulting corner was once again converted by Matt Murphy past the keeper to give the away side a two goal cushion. Milton Keynes didn’t lay down without a fight and some sloppy defending after a deflection in from a long corner saw the deficit reduced to one with around 15 minutes to go. A rightly disallowed goal and an Alistair Cook-esque hook of the line from Ollie Davies ensured that it remained this way. With 6 minutes to go, Old Cranleighans sealed the game as Matt Murphy converted a penalty stroke to complete his hat-trick. The away side should have had a fifth as the Jay Harman’s combined exquisitely down the right only for Paddy Harman to miss from three yards after his twin had put it on a plate for him.
Overall, a solid 3 points to start the season with a tough away game ticked off. OCs welcome Tunbridge Wells to Thames Ditton next week for their first game on the new turf.
Men’s 2nd XI 2-1 Aldershot & Farnham 1
The men’s 2s pushed-back their campaign with a win in dramatic fashion, courtesy of a winning goal from a short-corner after full-time.
OCs came flying out of the traps. Plenty of movement and good ball speed forced 3 short corners in succession, with Jimmy Webber hitting the inside of the post. The pressure continued and resulted in a fine goal from a John Jauncey straight-strike from another short corner.
Despite OCs domination and solid wall of a defence, a very well-drilled Aldershot & Farnham side were difficult to break down and made the most of one of very few opportunities to force a goal from a short corner shortly before half-time.
The story continued in the second half, with OCs enjoying plenty of possession but struggling to break down the young opposition, which was made harder by a couple of green cards.
In an intense final quarter with OCs building patiently but working tirelessly to force the win, the game could have gone either way – a potentially winning goal for Aldershot & Farnham from a rare counter attack with 5 minutes to go was saved by a miraculous pick by Jack Kennedy with an open goal behind him, and a subsequent Aldershot & Farnham short corner was defended well.
With the clock winding down, Jimmy Smith won a short corner on the right baseline and the final whistle went at 1-1, but a well-worked routine saw Champagne Webber retrieve his slipped pass and put it away for his first goal and the team’s first win of the season.
Goals: John Jauncey; Jimmy Webber
MoM: Chris Wiseman
Champagne Moment: Jimmy Webber
Other: Henry Emery
Men’s 3rd XI 6-0 Cheam 1
The Prodigal Son, his flock of sheep and a fattened calf wend their way to TD to take away the virginity of the 3rd XI’s league’s season on the new astro. Unlike the triumph of 2008 years ago there was no fatted calf slaughtered in celebration but instead 12 sacrificial lambs found their fate at the TD shrine of hockey and retreated back to a different part of South West Surrey along the dusty highway.
Herod Williamson and Pontius Marshall were also banished to the wilderness as the Redshaw duo graced our game, unknown to us to have appointed umpires.
The game was played to the backdrop of The Ryder Cup with Europe having Molinaro and Fleetwood, now called “Molliwood”, whilst we have Knapp, Packham and Shepherd, “Knackerd” to rival them.
New faces aplenty with league debuts in the 3s with Wils x 2 (who walked from Wandsworth), Tongy of the red mist fame and Clarke Kent. Hunts could have been Cheam’s fatted calf buy was playing for us.
Today saw the history books rewritten at TD. One of the Cheam lads was caught out by the bounce from an aerial, it was too high, bouncing above waste height, never seen before in the 25 year history of a TD astro.
As for the game we were rollicking good for the first 15 or so minutes and the second half. 2 to the good at half time courtesy of Knappy and 4 more in the second half from Sam Wilson x 2, Clarke Kent and Eds saw us run out 6-0 winners and straight to the top of the league. Our goalie was hardly troubled, other than the continuing mental issues, and the defence mopped up all that was presented to them.
Tougher tests will doubtless come our way as the weeks progress but a perfect start in what is now a special place to play our home hockey.
Men’s 4th XI Purley Walcountians
What a start to the season! A thumping 6-1 away victory to league rivals Purley with two hat-tricks (Sam and Neil!). Man of the match Sam Cruthers was outstanding, ably supported by our other U17s, Rafe, Jake, and James who were collectively the difference between the teams. We even managed to keep their Whitgiftian youngsters quiet for once. All round, a fabulous first performance that sees us second in the league (but only because Spencer won 10-0!!!)
Men’s Barnstormers 2-1 Epsom (Friendly)
Our last warm up game before the league starts saw us take on a strong Epsom team from the league above.
Barnstormers more than held their own once the game settled. We can probably count ourselves fortunate to score first but in the middle and final thirds of the game we held possession really well and looked threatening going forward with Matt Close directing affairs.
Epsom had a number of quality players who threatened through the middle but there was no gulf in team performance and the game was settled with a second Barnstormers goal despite Epsom nabbing one back from a penalty corner (the only thing Nigel couldn’t reach all day).
An unfortunate end to the match saw an Epsom player leaking claret on the new pitch (hope that washes out!) and – after being patched up by Closey – spending the evening in A&E. All the result of a friendly-fire shot after the whistle had blown.
Men’s Hamstrings vs Indian Gymkhana
Match report to follow.
Ladies 1st XI 0-2 London Wayfarers 2
In our second league match of the season it was unfortunate that the score line didn’t reflect the game. For 55 minutes, OC’s kept the pressure on Wayfarers, quickly scoring a short corner within the first 10 minutes of the match which was confidently defended.
OC’s press was particularly effective in the first half, the forwards tracking non-stop across the width of the pitch and not giving Wayfarers any leeway, leading to forced errors in their half. We controlled the game and on winning the ball, captain Nikki Springett and right half Georgia Watson linked the passes to drive it down the right, strong side of the pitch.
In the final quarter of the game, and as legs were getting tired, fatigue and stick tackles cost us the match. One attacking short corner and a break in open play saw Wayfarers score two goals in the last 20 minutes, and OCs got handed two green cards as tensions ran high. Despite best efforts, OCs weren’t able to convert anything and even with more circle entries than the opposition, we just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
Ladies 2nd XI 1-2 London Wayfarers 5Match report to follow.
Ladies Vamps 0-0 KenleyVamps faced a hungry Kenley side and it was end to end stuff. Defence worked well with the first half dominated by the oppo but no goals scored. Second half was a better story for us as we found our feet and the young legs of Alina and Georgina helped get the ball up the other end. A couple of short corners were awarded but we were unable to convert, probably because our normal striker was taking a breather on the subs bench! Jane was unable to control a fabulous strike from Sophie in front of the goal which would have been our best chance to score before final whistle went. 0-0.
Ladies 3rd XI 1-2 Bank of England 2
Match report to follow.