And like that, the season starts again. With most teams having had pre-season friendlies (some going straight in at the deep end) we kicked off with some great results all round.
Men’s 1st XI 4-0 Exeter University
Click here for match photos
The Men’s 1s went into their first game of the season after an unbeaten preseason. In what was the first National League game in the club’s history, excitement was building in the changing room with Lamb, Rhodes, Phillips, Wright and Davies all making their national league debuts.
With all the good lads sporting the latest stash hot off the press, OCs stepped back out into the fortress to face Exeter University. From the first pass the students were under pressure. The early minutes saw OCs create many chances but none of their efforts hit the back of the net. Our leader, legend and calm head of Ollie Davies, threaded a cross-field slap to William Marshall who took the ball into the D, wrong footed the keeper and tomahawked the ball into an empty goal. The score remained 1-0 for the rest of the first quarter.
Play was back underway and the travellers tried to bounce back reversing the pressure but with an unbeaten back 5 the OCs kept them out. With some slick build up play Wilson received the ball in the D and with some serious tap upgraded for a PC to Old Cranleighans. Matt Murphy was over castle 1 at the top of the D. There looked to be only one call on and he didn’t disappoint. His well-placed drag flick found the back of the net to take the lead to 2-0.
Halftime came and the score was still locked at 2-0. The third quarter saw many chances for both teams with some entertaining end-to-end play but no goals.
Into the final quarter and after a stern talking to, from manager Nick Ripley, Old Cranleighans looked to close the game out. Another penalty corner was won. After a miss trap from the stopper at top D, Matt Cornwell gathered the ball and shot towards goal. The ball was saved down to Louis Wright who calmly lifted the ball over the keeper and into the goal, 3-0. OCs were now exerting more and more pressure on the opposition and the hard legs once again paid off when a shot from Will Phillips was deflected into the path of Jack Smart who carefully finished it off to put the game to bed. The game remained at 4-0 until the final whistle was blown.
A good result to start off the season. The team look to build on their win and take the positives into the local clash away to Richmond on Sunday.
MOM – Ollie Davies (7.47 seconds) & Matt Richardson (10.59 seconds)
DOD – Will Phillips (5.01 seconds)
Men’s 2nd XI
Match Report to follow
Men’s 3rd XI 2-0 Old Georgians
Just as the bulk of the Premiership football clubs have prostituted themselves by selling the naming rights to their stadiums I am going to do the generous thing and prostitute the rights to call yourself Welsh to give you an easy passage into the latter stages of the rugby world cup. The cost will be fair and not the extortionate sums demanded by football clubs.
Fair to say that the weekend just finished was like a very fine red wine becoming better by the minute.
We started our aim for an unprecedented 6th promotion with a tasty first fixture against the bastions of the British tennis centres OGs at the famed venue of Tennisgate. With the old crooner still staring out at everyone who is allowed into the centre from his proud position on the wall facing the entrance a big immovable barrier was awaiting the first of us to arrive. No discord this time as we all played by the rules.
A near 100% availability and the addition of yet another Charlie, Stuckie, was as exciting as it got until the Alex Don warm up. OGs availability was clearly less than 100% as very few familiar faces were on show from our March game at this venue a point noted by their first team manager who was on the side line ahead of their 1s game against Wimbledon having impressively won their first two games of the Premier season. We feared that an injection of talent at the top would make our task even more difficult than last year, when we were blown away in the first 15 minutes, with the displaced first team from last year filtering into their twos so strengthening their 3s.
As it turned out we were more than a match for the OGs snuffing out the bulk of their attacks with a hugely impressive defensive display Protecting Buzzcut Rossko was the order of the day following his Scandi cruise with Dan M the best of a to back 4. Hunts however controlled our performance with a man of the match display in the centre of the park setting up our first after about 20 minutes for Lewi to deflect home from a tight angle and generally bossing the midfield. 10 years younger and he would be on the IPL bidding stage.
Our second came from a ridiculous bit of skill by the more mature, only by dint of his being 6 months older than when playing in our last game of last season, Kenty, a 360 degree swivel and popping it on a foot for a shortie. A very well rehearsed routine saw Fox in The Box Don somehow snaffle the chance after a 12 pass move.
Fortunately there was still time for Ports to receive his first green of the season that followed Stuckie’s due to his being bored waiting for Alex D to fess for his tackle. This correctly earned him D o D.
Psychologically this was a huge win as last season OGs were correctly crowned as champions of Surrey Div 2 and Georgians were very magnanimous in defeat.
The weekend ended with our 1s stuffing Exeter Uni 4 – 0 in their first foray in the National League, the best result of the day in their league. 21 more similar weekends would be handy.
Men’s 4th XI 1-0 CheamThe First League game of the season OC’s Men’s 4’s first league fixture against recently relegated Cheam 1st XI. Cheam arrived one hour before the match with a squad of 16, Coach, Manager and a white board. Super keen Cheam meant business. (The 4ths were still watching Japan beat the Irish in the RWC!)
Having won the Toss OC’s pushed back and with an amazing stroke of genius Matt Heslop pushed the ball directly at the Umpire (due to his orange attire) and gave Cheam a sideline ball 35 yards up the pitch. This stroke of genius gave Cheam the false impression that OC’s were……..rubbish. From the sideline Tongy took the ball off the right wing with ease and OC’s attacked at lightning pace. 3 minutes later Paddy with elegance took it round four defenders and smashed it in the back of the net. The crowd of three U9s went wild.
1-0 and Cheam were on the back foot. With the midfield of Jody, John T, Grimmer and Paddy relentlessly intercepting every ball and providing quality balls to the forwards, Cheam’s coach made lots of notes on the white board ready for the half time ‘hairdryer’ treatment.
The second half was slightly different. Cheam (after energy drinks and protein bars) decided to press high up the pitch. OCs built a wall with Tongy, Chris, Matt, Ed and Ollie (the one with the funny stance in the team photo). The wall was immense and only breached a few times. When it was breached Captain Kieran Tallent stepped up and mopped up the scraps. With some dazzling footwork and amazing saves he kept OC’s in front. On one occasion he dribbled past four players and cleared to safety winning him the prestigious award of ‘Man of the match’.
A fast and frantic first game but a great team performance. Homework for this week is learning the names of the entire squad. (The names in the above match report may not be an accurate reflection of who was playing)
Men’s 5th XI 5-3 Barnes Beavers
The new season started in earnest with an away game opener at Barnes at the nice and early time of 10am. The week saw a challenge as the influx of players promised from above, below, or sideways never arrived – perhaps held up at the border due to upcoming Brexit Stick Ring checks at Dover or simply stuck in the quagmire that is the Teamo “available” status. This meant we were looking at a team of 8 two days before pushback – not ideal. That said – our very own Chief Negotiator took control with a “no ifs, no buts” attitude and managed to rouse the youngsters out of bed and into the Crumby battlewagon (maximum occupancy yet to be determined as it was a trial run).
Arriving before the opposition meant we had the lucky job of removing any on-field debris so we could warm up – this consisted of 1 very large tube like divider and ~100,000 leaves – the latter we simply gave up so we took this as a sign of the pitch will be like a Dukes Meadow Ninja Warrior like affair with many a slip – we were not disappointed. It could have been worse I suppose – it could have been their algae infested horror show of old.
Unlike the previous Battles with Barnes – this was a well-played affair, no backchat and with good banter on pitch – this said – this season we are without Tissy for this season – the mathematicians amongst you can probably see the correlation.
We started fast – passing was flowing and the midfield were dominating proceedings which meant the forwards were getting some good service up front. A few spurned chanced ultimately led to out first penalty corner. Howie “PC Hog” Cruthers did what does best in these situations – strike it hard – the end result was a tap in by Rob “Get in the W” Jonkergouw to make it 1-0 – what a start. We were sniffing a rout (or was it just the old pitch lingering).
Rout we wanted, Rout we did not get – while we played some good hockey – Barnes managed to pick up on a loose ball and their chap smashed the ball home from top D – 1-1.
We didn’t stop – we continued the great midfield work and it ultimately led to a sweet pass to put Neil “Spinarama” Robertson-Ravo to look up and see the keeper standing about 4 feet to the left of his post…simple shot. 2-1.
Barnes didn’t let up and a soft PC led to a simple near post tap in (not unlike our first) to make it 2-2. Undeterred at this setback we pushed and pushed with some great hockey and lots of comedy slips on the leaf ridden minefield and we made it 3-2 with a trademark Ravo spin from the P-spot (you know that 1 out of 1,000 that actually did work) – we were sure this was the winner.
It was at this stage the Stranger Things moment happened when Seearsy ran onto the pitch with an away top adorned despite playing for most of the game in Blue….most of the Barnes Team and the OC’s were aghast -perhaps it was his form of active camouflage (it didn’t work) or was it just his hat in the ring for DoD.
This game had it all though and a foot on the line led to a PF which tied us up.
What followed next happened in the last 90 seconds. Jack “3D” Crumby arrowed in a flick from a (which Barnes hotly debated) corner – 4-3. Time for some keepball. The restart ended up with a quick turnover of the ball and us into the corner – cynical but necessary – perhaps it was annoyance and/or the clock ticking down to zero – the entire Barnes defence moved to the ball and allowed a simple pass to Rafe in the D to make it 5-3.
Result – roll on Leatherhead at Fortress TD
Ladies 1st XI 3-3 Spencer 3s
The ladies 1st XI league match was at home against Spencer 3s. With Spencer having first pushback, the OCs regained possession and were playing well, moving the ball fast and effectively between each other. Nikki Springett was distributing in the middle and Ellie Hauck was making some excellent runs down the right wing. We secured a number of short corners in the first half and our first goal came from a straight shot from Katie Richards, deflected in on the post by Liz Norrington after five minutes. Spencer came back at us and they broke a number of times. We conceded a short corner which was slipped left and trickled through our sticks to the backboard. 1-1. Our second goal came from team play down the right to the base line and up to Laura Sealey in the D. The shot across goal was deflected and pick up on the left post by Liz and lifted over the keeper. We had a number of more short corners and chances but didn’t convert and it was Spencer who levelled a minute before the break.
Spencer took the lead two minutes into the second half and could have gone two up but for a goal being disallowed. We squared the match midway through the half when a long corner was played into the top of the D and slotted in by Meg Perry. A disappointing result considering the number of chances and short corners but a good start nonetheless.
Ladies 2nd XI 2-1 Epsom 3sLadies 2’s had their first match of the season against Epsom 3s, after some great pre-season matches getting us into shape.
Ladies 3rd XI 3-6 Barnes
Ladies 5th XI 2-0 Sunbury & WaltonIn a very welcome change from the previous week’s sweltering lunchtime ‘friendly’ the Ladies 5’s first league match kicked off on a much cooler morning at Oaken Lane. A very youthful opposition didn’t help our flailing confidence, but under the under the eagle eyes of coaches MC & JM we overcame our nerves, settled into the game and tried our very best to put in everything Cookiey has spent years drumming into us at training. We must have listened to at least some of his instructions as off our 2nd short corner of the half Rachel C scored our very first league goal. Jubilant celebration ensued….but given how many stonking saves goalkeeper Molly had had to make to keep S&W at 0 we knew the job wasn’t done yet.
We upped our intensity in the 2nd half with mids and forwards keeping the attacking pressure up, resulting in a fair few ‘almost-goals’, with one finally finding its way to the back of the net courtesy of Lucy G’s stick. All was looking promising until 10 minutes before the end when our fiercely brilliant goalie Molly had to dash off (showing true dedication to the hockey cause by racing straight to a second back to back match!) This left us with an open goal…and of course we conceded a short corner just few minutes before the final whistle. A nail-biting period of defence ensued, but our mighty back line defended with relentless intent and despite being a goal-keeper down we managed to keep a clean sheet.
Player of the match was unanimously voted as the brilliant Lucy Wise who had the opposition midfield and defence baffled as to how to stop her in her tracks. Next week we face Old Georgians – here’s to hopefully putting a few more points on the board!
POM: Lucy Wise