Match Reports – March 5th 2022

Men’s 1st XI 3-6 Reading
A cold and blustery night in South West London set the scene for a top-four clash in the England Hockey Division 1 South league. The visitors came into the game having had a poor run of games following the midseason break – the Christmas festivities and excess turkey evidently still weighing down on them. The home team by contrast were coming off the back a number of positive results and, unbeaten in the second half of the season were looking to cause an upset.

Taking early dominance on the encounter, the home team controlled the tempo of the game and it wasn’t long before some intricate passing play broke down the visiting side. The resulting short corner saw the homes teams top scorer for the season, Muhammad Irfan, fire a deadly drag flick into the leg of visiting player on the goal line. A penalty stroke resulted and Irfan dispatched it with ease.

Not finished there, the home team came roaring out of the blocks in the second quarter and quickly added another, Irfan once again proving two good from the top of the circle. The home team showed great fight in the first half and despite a soft visitor goal late in the second quarter, definitely had the better of the exchanges. Going into the half time break at 2-1, it looked as though a smash and grab was on the cards.

The third quarter provided some cagey hockey and neither team managed to get a foothold in the game. The visitors, in need of a resurgence, resorted to some rash challenges and were quickly down to 9 men. Looking to make inroads into a young and now down beat visiting team, the home team were subject to a few questionable decisions much to the amazement of everyone in the ground – including the lacklustre visitor support.

The visitors rode their luck and when back to a full complement of players in the final quarter had the home team on the back foot. Weary legs had crept in for the home side and with a depleted bench it didn’t take long for the flood gates to open – 5 goals in 13 final quarter minutes. Ben Roe added a late consolation goal for the home team, his celebration fooling even the most observant of supporters into thinking the home team had snatched a result.

In the end it wasn’t to be the homes teams day and the final score certainly flattered the visitors. There were positives to take away and, with the return of some key players back into the fold next week the lads will surely get back to winning ways in no time.

Men’s 3rd XI 4-2 Wimbledon 5s
A game we had to win. Although this was not the Lord Mayor’s show, after the pony crap produced in the Spencer game, the second half was a performance that the crowd of Toby’s mum, Martin and Mel, enticed by the free admission offered by the OCHC committee as a one off, relished. The scoresheet that read Copleston 2, Cook and Knapp took us back a generation to days when Cookiey travelled back to TD from Worcester every Saturday ( he had no mates up there for Saturday fun), Shep was an irritating prefect at Eagle House or whatever prep school he attended, Carne had hair, Toby and Kiran weren’t born, Coppers was soiling 4 Pampers a day and Prince Andrew was on the phone booking Pizza Express in Woking for March 10th of that year.

We welcomed back Wils to the fold who heeded the call due to a plethora of n/a’s with the uber dependable CB being pitch side with his kit “in case you are short” and finding his way to our dug out pre match. Martin may have a different view of that exact scenario. The long lens of Martin’s camera, together with the fact that he was not umpiring us, spurred us on with Malcolm and Ravo officiating. Somehow Malcolm needed medical attention mid way through the first half to a presumably self inflicted cut on the index finger of his whistle hand but this did not stop the two whistlers from doing their usual excellent job. Good job Malcolm did not have to umpire a game at 19.30 after the 1s game as he slurred a farewell to me as I departed from his seated position at the back of the stand surrounded by an army of empty pint glasses.

I suppose that a squad of 14 with 7 forwards was always likely to concede some goals but score more and we did not disappoint. Wils looked as if he had never been away producing a perfectly placed low drag flick from an early short corner which was matched by as good a save by their keeper, one of a number he made during the game. Wimbledon found our ever changing midfield trio tricky to handle but we gave the ball away too many times in the final third to turn our pressure into goals. The Pred gave us the lead with his first visit to his favourite square metre of the far end of the TD pitch but two sloppy goals were conceded prior to the break putting us 2-1 down after 35 minutes.

A better structured and well managed second half laid the ghost of the Spencer game as Pred, Cookiey and Knappy added to the tally with perhaps our being aided by a decision or two that went our way. Over a season these things balance out as shown in the Purley and Spencer games with goals mysteriously disallowed at crucial times. Preds second goal was straight out of The Predator’s “How to score goals from a tricky position” whilst Cookiey, one on one with the keeper, dropped his shoulder and the keeper to lift the ball over him. Toby was unlucky not to have his first goal for the team when popping the ball home seconds after the whistle had gone for another short corner which, due to our conversion rate being zero from 12 or so, could be deemed a penalty. I guess we need the practice.

M o M overall was their keeper who had an excellent game and had little chance with any of our 4 goals. No idea as to who won or weekly awards as Max was not here to collate the information with the votes seemingly evenly spread. D o D was probably Lewi after a quite extraordinary first half assault on the goal post which Emmers quite correctly compared to Zerevev although Ravo, thankfully, was not sitting on top of the goal. Wils or Pred were our best two players. Bank this week, which has always been a tough game since the days of Shep being a prefect, but one where we have a flock of players returning to the fold save the Carthusians who are still on their USA road trip, and the start of a 3 game run that will define our season. David Knapp

Guildford Masters 1-2 Stormers
After what must have been one of the shortest warmups Guildford HC carpark has ever seen, we assembled on the pitch with one thing on our minds… will JJ know all the meticulously planned tactics after going AWOL during the pre-match team briefing? Around 10 minutes into the game, we found out the answer was a definite ‘yes’ as he popped up in the D and smashed the ball into the corner of the goal. 1-0 to OCs. Then followed a passage of play where we were chasing our tails. After the early confidence booster we lost a yard of pace and tried to dribble in circles rather than giving the early pass. Dazzler then attempted some sort of WWE wrestling move and before we knew it, Guildford had levelled the score with a mishit at the top of the D which went 45 degrees to their winger who fumbled the ball in.

After a stern team talk from injured skipper Matt H (incredible commitment!!!!) and a “this next 35 minutes will define our season” from Goalie we finally kicked into gear in the second half playing some lovely fluid hockey. The second half saw a towering performance from Cato who, like a moth to the flame, always seems to attract bad tackles, this time from OCs old boy Jan. Fortunately our Midfield General was okay to play on. Shortly after, JJ put his body on line by attempting to swan dive over a grounded player and was sidelined with an injured shoulder. News in today confirmed he’s torn his ACL but that’s in his knee so we’re waiting for further updates. On a serious note, JJ speedy recovery mate!

Then with around 10 minutes to go, OCs new boy Joff showed a very classy bit of skill to win us a short corner. All it then need was a classic motivational speech from Rippers in the huddle “Jerry it’s going to the far post so it’s all your fault if we don’t score” and we were 2-1 up. And that is how the game ended. 3 points and a year’s worth of bragging rights to Tongy over his twin bro who was playing for the oppo.

MOM – Cato
DOD – sharing the spoils Tongy and JJ
Champagne moment – JJ

London Edwardians 2s 0-4 Ladies 1st XI
The Ladies 1st IX were back at Battersea again this Saturday. A win against, bottom of the table, London Edwardians 2s was essential if we were to continue with our goal to come top of the league. After a talk from Lauren reminding us of our history of underestimating teams due to their position in the table, we kicked off the morning with a high energy warmup getting us pumped for the game.

As the first whistle blew, we went out hard immediately putting pressure on London Eds. Our attacking play up the pitch was strong, helped by the solid defence with some great distribution from Hazel and some precisely aimed aerials from Alina. There were some excellent runs up both the right and left wing, resulting in a number of chances. Constant pressure was kept on London Eds until finally an outcome; Bella won a short corner which was cleanly converted by Richie from a straight strike into the bottom left corner of the goal. Although one goal up, tensions were high as London Eds quickly reacted on the counter attacks. Thankfully the defence were able to prevent a goal, with Molly making some vital saves and Hazel making many important tackles. Despite our continued attack on London Eds, the score remained a frustrating 1-0 until half time.

After a stern talk from coach Lauren, we went out determined to improve our game. The second half felt much more in our control. Linking passes up the left and right wing resulted in numerous chances. All the possession seemed to be ours, and frustrations rose as we couldn’t quite get the ball in the back of the net, despite tons of shots on goal. Finally, a cross into the D from the right resulted in a rebound from the keeper which was quickly picked up by Laura and flung by a reverse flick into the bottom left corner. Buzzing from the goal, we continued to apply pressure from the restart. Attacking play continued, with Jackie making long runs down the left and Richie using her quick skills to break through the London Eds defence. Laura passed the ball up the right hand side to Poppy, who quickly spotted both Kitty and Ellie in the D. Poppy smashed it across the D to Kitty who made the perfect deflection for Ellie to easily slot it past the keeper into the back of the goal, making it 3-0. The defence remained strong as the time ticked down, with Helen and Sylvie making some important tackles to slow the last counter attacks from London Eds. With two minutes to go, Nikki stole the ball of a London Eds mid and found Syms who made a run from the left diagonally to the middle. Syms floated the ball down the left that was swiftly picked up by Richie, who crossed the ball across the D to Poppy who slapped the ball int the back of the net. The whistle blew and we finished the match 4-0.

MOM was given to Poppy for her many runs up the right and her attacking in the D. DOD was given to Ellie for getting woken up by a phone call from Kitty 10 minutes before having to leave.

Ladies 4th XI 1-3 Aces
A 10am start at OCs and rivalry between the two teams meant the umpires were prepared for a ‘blood bath’. If you turn your mind back to the away game when Aces were beaten by the 4s and some unladylike behaviour emanated. OCs came out strong from the starting blocks and had a couple of near misses. However Aces responded with a break from their very fast right forward and after 10 minutes of play scored. Aces continued their onslaught and scored again after 30 minutes. Anna and Holly had fabulous runs and shots at goal but was denied by Aces goalie. Aces were continually complaining about decisions, but the umpiring was completely controlled. Evie saved several goals but during short corner was unable to save 3rd goal just before half time.
Kate gave a motivating talk during half time and OCs came out stronger and more focused. Jane, returning from injury narrowly missed scoring from a lovely pass from Suki and might have done better with a zimmer frame! However Jenny scored a great goal from a pass from Holly to save our blushes. Second half certainly a win for OCs but final score 3-1 to Aces. Unfortunately kitchen didn’t see teas’ text but were able to rustle up chicken nuggets and chips for the oppo and umpires. Goal scorer Jenny R. MoM Holly

Mitcham 1s 0-7 Ladies 5th XI
Another Saturday away for the Ladies 5s this time on the Blenheim School beach in Epsom…. still better than a trek to the alternate pitch in Mitcham, not least as none of us got lost. Gifted with a fantastic umpire due to childcare considerations, we threw ourselves into a well-disciplined game. Full of confidence after a spate of wins, we went straight on the attack and spent the first quarter in the opposing D where our shots were kept out by the skillful oppo goalie. The side line commentators yelled post a lot as we needed to work our way around said skillful goalie not just hit it straight at her! The continuous pressure paid off in the end and Sophie broke the deadlock with a neat finish, rapidly followed by Nicola, Sophie again – we’re still only in the first half and 3 – 0 up, this was all going very well. The defence were a little cold but could not relax their vigilance as Mitcham are a talented bunch. The half ended with more opportunities but the goal was disallowed and a short corner in the final minute was again well-deflected by the oppo.

Half time and the team agreed a clean sheet was the aim of the day. Mitcham had regrouped and were finding their way through more and more but our goalie Izzy, aided by the unflappable combo of Sarah and Roz at the back, denied all their chances. The midfield were on fire and feeding in ball after ball, a lovely long cross from Lily just finding Nicola’s stick with millimetres to spare to sneak home goal number 4. Shortly after Candela popped up from the defence to score on her second game for the OCs and Sophie went for the hat trick throwing everything including herself into the strike – yes goal number 6! Lastly, Kirsty slotted home a neat little shot from the top of the D to seal the game at 7 – 0. Dizzy heights for us and a great result all round. Bottom of the table no more. Player of the match was unanimously Lily for her composure and intelligent play throughout the game. Back home next week to face Wimbledon…. our knees are very grateful for the respite that our lovely pitch will offer.

Ladies 6th XI 3-0 Cheam 3s
In the first half we dominated possession, with lovely attacking play from the midfield, particularly Connie and Grace. Cheam struggled to get meaningful plays in our half with Phoebe playing a high defensive line and creating opportunities for the mids and wings. Despite dominating the first half their defence and keeper kept us at bay. Captain’s half time talk concentrated on continuing our good play but looking at use the widths more to get behind their defence line and cause confusion and opportunities. We also expected then to come out attacking. This use of widths quickly turned the game and despite a few forays into the D our defence quickly dealt with them. Soon we turned the game with goals in quick succession from Jeanette and Grace. At 2-0 down for Cheam, they looked weakened and we dominated the rest of the half with a lovely third goal by Grace to seal a confident and still full win, with great teamwork across all areas of the pitch. From our goalie points of view Isa had a quiet time and made use of her time by practising her dance move when we scored. Our umpires kept the game flowing with lots of advantage played, allowing the game to flow. A game played in positive spirits by both sides.

POM Grace Hamper
Written by Fiona o’ Nolan