Match Reports – March 12th 2022

Keep checking as the match reports are added during the week …

Canterbury 2-3 Men’s 1st XI
Following a last quarter capitulation against Reading, the OCs were eager to get back to winning ways against joint top of league Canterbury. A freshly watered pitch, large crowd and a return of club legend, D. Matthews (aka ‘Pies’) set the scene for a competitive game.

After in inspired team talk and clinical warm up, the OCs were in top shape for the task at hand. The opening minutes started evenly with clear opportunities for both sides to break the deadlock. Eventually, good link-up play down the left saw the OCs awarded a short corner in the twelfth minute which was dispatched by a M. Irfan rocket into the bottom left corner. The OCs, buoyed by the goal, went on to control the remaining minutes of the quarter, although couldn’t add a vital second. Just as the OCs were thinking they’d closed the quarter, a lapse in concentration allowed to CHC break through the OCs press and equalise with a scrappy goal near J. Doble’s pads.

Undeterred by the updated score line, the second quarter was one of the the best spells of hockey the OCs had put in all season with complete control of the game, plenty moments of “sexy hockey” and two more PC rockets from M. Irfan. 3-1 to the OCs at half time and heads firmly held high.

The third quarter proved to be a tense affair as a result of an early CHC goal; a well-worked drill down the right side of pitch followed by a good wobble into the D and a tidy backhand finish. This opened up the game completely and provided some cagey moments / questionable umpire calls including a green for both sides. Both teams pushed hard for the next goal but the defence remained solid. The scoreline remained 3-2 to set up a nervy last quarter.

With all to play for in the final quarter the OCs dug deep to keep on to the lead with some spirited saves from J Doble. With 7 minutes to go the OCs legs started to tire and CHC began to make cracks in the OCs press. In true OCs style, B Wilson gave away a short corner and yellow card for not being 5 metres away. Down to 10 men, three CHC short corners followed in quick succession, with the last ending bizarrely; M. Irfan on the receiving end of a drag flick to ‘knee’ and after much umpire deliberation a second but harsh OC yellow card. Down to 9, the coaches, bench, and offending OC players watched through their fingers as the team held out for a massive three points.

MOM: M. Irfan 
DOD: B Wilson

Men’s 2nd XI 4-0 Old Tonbridgians
The South Western rail service were expecting big crowds at The Old Cranleighans Sports club with the early 10am push back, with players and fans alike greeted to a hostile reception at Esher which claimed some early victims with a rail penalty. With a surprising lack of stories involving fingers from the night before, the Peoples Team began their now famous on pitch warm up with the usual degree of flare and confidence.

OC’s started well but lacked the final pass and in truth failed to test the OT’s keeper in the first half. A couple of good saves from keeper Harrower kept the scoreline level going into the break following a flurry of OT’s corners. After a heated Ding-DON at HT, OC’s decided to come out at the start of the second half with a full press, with the inside captains knowledge that OT’s only ordered 12 match teas and would soon run out of steam.

After excellent work in the midfield from Morris and Biccarino, the ball fell kindly for Lankfer who managed to squeeze the ball into the side netting, to make it 1-0 to the home side. All the momentum was now with the good blokes and captained Roberts soon doubled the lead after some some classy work down the left hand side from Don and the dangerous duo of Ajay and Charlie. With OT’s now chasing the game, excellent work at the back from Mr Cool Ben Marchant and local tipster Wildbore soon stopped any OT’s attacks and when MOTM Perumatantri found fellow Notts Alumni Cooper who linked up well with Ajay and Lankfer, the score line was soon 3-0. A final fourth was added after Fred RJ fed Lawson, who glided past several OT’s defenders, before unleashing a ferocious backhand which riffled into the top corner via a few deflections. After results went The Peoples Team’s way, the dream is still on for promotion. Next week we travel to Tulse Hill & Dulwich 11am pb at JAGS.

Bank of England 0-1 Men’s 3rd XI
Another week of countless Whatsapp messages concerning selection but not a whisper from Shep or Scarney. Scarney was busy taking photos of a prone CG who seemingly was incapable of handling the 2% proof beer in the US whilst Shep was keeping his head down. The messages all came as a product of Bank struggling to find a second umpire with our exploring every single avenue possible, more than the combined number of avenues that Scarney, Shep and CG have explored in all their nights out in South London. Having had a series of very strange results in the last few weeks all did not seem right with Bank, one of THE pillars in Surrey hockey since the inception of the leagues in the 1970’s. The match teas at Bank used to be a feature of the away games in a season with the Roehampton club heaving with rugby, football and swimming participants along with the hockey. A password protected entrance gate, empty playing fields, deserted car parks and catering facilities closed were a far cry from the heady days of the recent past. Their withdrawing their second team from the league below in December was a clear sign of a club on its uppers.

All said and done this was a key game that neither side could afford to draw or lose as before Saturday’s round of matches the second promotion spot in league was between Purley 2s ( the in form team with 5 successive wins) , Bank, ourselves with Surbiton hanging on to an outside chance of coming up on the rails. Cheam have breathing space at the top and having not lost a game as yet are more than odds on to win the league. Our buffer disappeared two weeks ago with defeat at Spencer. As squads go ours was good for this game and for once we had assembled in good time unlike the oppo who mainly arrived just before push back but with their best two players present. To our pleasant surprise their best defender put on the pads as Guy, who stepped in to umpire following his move from Bank to the OCs, indicated that mid week they had 9 players available and no keeper.

Did we make the most of their having a non keeper between the sticks, no we did not. After the first 10 minutes of pretty well total domination without testing the keeper we became embroiled in a highly attritional and unenjoyable midfield struggle. Coppers sent a cross in the first minute whistling across the goal with the half chance going begging which, had that been nudged home, may have changed the course of the game. As it was we had one tepid shot capably dealt with by the keeper in the first half but other than that created zilch. There weren’t even any planes coming into Heathrow that normally fly low over the ground to spot.

The second half was no better and although we did our best to entertain their forwards by a number of ill judged passes we again failed to pressurise Bank’s second keeper as centre back and keeper changed positions at half time. As it was 1 moment of brilliance at either end won us the game. Cookiey superbly back handed an above the head smash into the goal following a decent move up the right to score the only goal that was then followed by Rosko’s top save from a vicious tomahawk, his only action in the game to keep our noses in front. Max took a short corner off the line and that, thankfully, was that. Although a very bitty game we were reasonably solid in the midfield with Crofty, Wils, Coppers and Paddy P negating their centre half and his distribution but this was a game that we would all probably wish to forget albeit with the result that keeps us in the hunt. We need to go back to basics and retain greater control of our structure which was very lacking after the first 15 minutes.

Over my stint at the OCs we have had many top and crucial games at Bank but I fear this may be the last OC v Bank game and should Bank fold it is another glum day for hockey, but especially Surrey hockey. As the bigger clubs get bigger and the smaller clubs disappear or merge trying to stave off the inevitable hockey is the big loser.

Wanderers 4s 1-5 Ladies 2nd XI
The Ladies 2s, the Peoples Team, travelled to Stretham and Clapham High School to take on Wanderers 4s. With only one sub, as the ski resorts are most definitely open, after the long drive (traffic) and the sunshine most of us were ready for an afternoon nap but a rousing captains talk from Jo perked us all up and we were eager for another win after last week’s solid performance against Wimbledon. Amy rounded us up for a quick but targeted warm up – so we were ready for a prompt push back – we also discovered the pitch was sandy and slow. From the off we pressed hard – an early interception from Fletch saw us make an unexpected break. Cutting in from the left the Ali FR / Fletch combo push it up the left and the first of many breaks into their D. A clean save from their keeper – Wanderers countered, the team were clinical with their 1-2 triangles around the players they were in our 25 but Holly intercepted before they could reach the D and we were on the counter again. Ele Lunn controlling the middle, distributing it out well, we used our width and a play up the right saw Tabby drive into the D, find a foot and secure our first corner.

The ball from the injector was held up but the lack of pace on the pitch, but a clean stop and drop a clean connection from Holly and the backboard was found! From the off the forwards were back on them – Miggs pace seeing her cover pretty much the whole pitch and that pressing was working, their defence was on the back foot and interceptions were being made. The forwards and mids were covering the pitch and Wanderers couldn’t get through. Back in their D another short won, this time a save from the keeper however it found an OC stick and the forwards were on her, after a few deflections a determined Amy Miggs slotted it in the back of the net – boom another notch on her journey to secure this season’s golden boot/stick. Within 5 mins we were back in the D a cracking cross from Meg Hey (debuting for the L2s) found Miggs stick and it was another in the back of the net for Miggs. Wanderers were in the game and OCs had been forced to save some breaks too – Holly and Ailsa keeping them out in the middle and Amy her usual epic, effortless timing picked the ball and distributed it via Jo up the left to Fletch. The back line were marking hard but a break up their right, and an extra player in our D, a cross from the base line found one of their players and they were on the scoreboard just before half time.

After a motivating half time talk from Jo and Meg’s dad – in our heads it was 0-0 all to play for. Wanderers would want to get back in the game but we had other plans. We played our game – the forwards pressed hard and the mids supported each other well, we had one sub but that seemed to be working for us. As the pitch was slow we were using the width and the backs to distribute the ball. Sangster had already hit at least three of their feet so they weren’t so quick to press her when she had the ball – this allowed us to crack the ball into space and the pace of our forwards they were picking up the ball and charging into the D, or dropping it back to the mids to get it in. A few more shorts were won and not converted so a non eventful first 15 of the second half – Wanderers were frustrated as we had the possession after the fourth short of the half Ele Lunn in a text book block, picked up the ball from the keepers pads and slotted it into corner. 4-1 – with ten to go! Frustration was evident on the Wanderers side but the OCs were motivated – the forwards continuing to wear them down and our mids intercepting their plays we were attacking hard and enjoying the game. A quickly taken long corner from Sangster, with their players keeping their distance a solid smash into the D was picked up by Meg H and deflected into the back of the net! Boom 5-1.. with two to go! The final play of the game, an interception from Fletch, dropped back to Amy she drove it into the D and a penalty was won as the final whistle was blown. Everyone on the edge, and with Kate Tanners half time prediction of a 6-1 win in sight – we wanted to get a record fourth converted short corner, alas it was not meant to be, all those players in the D an OC foot as found but we were all very happy with the 5-1 result and 3 points! A true team effort and that was reflected in the POM nominations for Tabby, Ali, Ailsa with Ele Lunn and Sangster jointly sharing the award. Sangster as usual also managed to pick up DOD too – but special mention to Jo for not knowing which side of the pitch she was playing on ? Well done ladies – lets keep this up!!