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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Match reports - October 27, 2007

1st XI 3 Merton 3 Click here for match photos This was probably the best game in which we have played for many years. Should we achieve promotion this year there is no one better to join us than Merton having regard to their style of hockey and the spirit of their play and approach.

Once again availability was a test for the skipper but Heardy stepped in as effectively as ever. Our best patch was in the first 20 minutes when we deservedly took a two-goal lead with two sharp strikes from Knapp having been set up by Rippers, the product of two incisive moves down the right. Cookiey had a chance to make it three but an excellent save from their keeper probably ensured that Merton stayed in the game. In addition we did not make the most of our four short corners with only the third threatening which was taken off the line a little fortuitously by the post man. As the half went on Merton pressed forward and we made the mistake of allowing our half court to become more of a quarter court and the initiative swung towards the away side. Bruce became more isolated on the left and Merton played well in pressing the left-hand corner. Nevertheless Merton did not create any chances until the last minute of the half. We had a chance to catch Merton cold on the break that should have made it 3–0 but Knapp mistrapped a ball that broke away and although the initial play was broken down a lapse in concentration left a Merton forward free on the base line and a superb deflection reduced the arrears.

Merton’s best spell then followed in the first period of the second half. We tired and Merton pushed up but were still unable to create any real clear cut openings. Eventually a loose clearance put us under pressure and somewhat luckily the ball was deflected home to level the match. Afterwards Micky, the Merton manager, admitted that the ball was popped home from above the striker’s shoulder but no complaints from us as at this point they deserved their equalizer.

At this point we would have settled for a point but Merton scented victory and it was no surprise when they picked some pieces from a short corner to take the lead with five minutes to go. A change in our formation suddenly gave us more security at the back and Will moving forward crashed the ball into the circle and Cookiey managed to get a touch that could have gone anywhere but shot into the roof of the net – levelling up the scores and the fortune.

In the final analysis a draw was probably a fair result but Merton should have taken all three points at 3 -2 with five to go and who knows the effect of this result on both sides come April.

Credit must also go to David and Arran with the whistle who umpired a hard encounter as well as any umpires we have had since coming into this league. No sign of any cards or any chat from either side which enabled the game to be played in a perfect spirit. We look forward to the return fixture in February. David Knapp

3rd XI 2 Camberley 3 Illness, injury and international duties seriously curtailed the 3rd XI squad for yet another week. Struggling to integrate new players and coming off the back of a heavy defeat the previous week, we decided to keep it tight moving to a 4-3-3 formation instead of our usual midfield diamond. This meant less support for the hard working Preston up front but gave us a strong platform from which to build. Tommy Trinder and Andy Eve started the game brightly, controlling the midfield. Quick minds and slick passing allowed us to dominate the opening exchanges, taking the lead after Chas pounced on the loose ball after a frantic goal mouth scramble.

The team work was strong, players all over the pitch showing great willingness to work hard for each other and more chances followed. Camberley, to their credit, stuck to their task and slowly came back into the game. A powerful run from their central midfield set up a great counter attack shortly before half time. The ball was played at pace diagonally across the D from left to right. With the entire defence facing their own goal Adam could only watch in horror as he deflected the ball into his own net under pressure from the left wing 1-1. As the first half came to a close, fitness began to take its toll and Camberley began to apply a lot of pressure forcing a mistake from a free hit, their centre forward nipping in and making it 1-2.

A half-time rest seemed to galvanise the troops and a couple of tactical changes saw Jock propelled higher up the field (well as high as normal just without the having to get back bit!) with a sick and tiring Bruce dropping into defence. The OC’s continued to dominate possession forcing a number of short corners. The routines worked well and Jock got his just reward hammering in the equaliser.
The win looked possible but as everyone tired once again we were hit on the break after another strong run from the Camberley number 13. Feeding the ball into space behind the right back, a first time ball across the D, the centre forward was mere inches ahead of Tim deflected the ball home. This killer blow could have broken the spirits of lesser men but with eight minutes to go we rallied. 100% effort from the whole saw a number of chances fall our way. But it was not to be and the game ended 2-3 to Camberley. James Armitage

Merton 3 Ladies 0 A match moved due to Dora's wedding in March, this was due to be a tough one as Merton were riding high in the Division, with three wins out of four. There was a slight shuffle of the pack with Viks dropping into a more defensive role, Mezza moving further up the right flank to play mid field and Dora dropping into a more central mid field/ attacking position.

We started well with some good attacking moves down the left with Ana teaming up well with Jax, but the team failed to capitalize on a number of short corners midway through the first half. Merton were pushing us hard especially through the middle of the park, but with some stoic defending especially from Tux and Rosie, the back line held fast. Keeper Kate had some great stops from players that managed to break through and a number of short corners were dealt with cleanly.

The second half was a little less composed, with Merton breaking the deadlock about 10 minutes in, with a well struck short corner which we could do little about. The team held fast for a further five minutes, until a Merton attacker turned quickly and slotted a second home. Nursing a few bruises by that point, and with a man down due to a slight altercation, we pushed hard to get a goal back which nearly came from Nina and Dora as they exchanged passes round the keeper only to be thwarted by a player on the line.

The third Merton goal came with five minutes to go, Kate saving well from a cross shot from the right, only to see it cannon off a Merton attackers stick and into the goal. Again we pushed on with Helen going on a late run up the pitch with some great passing hockey with Ana and Viks. Dora had some great interceptions in the dying minutes but it was too late to make up the defecit.

Thanks to Alan who umpired for us and to Nige our sole supporter. Onwards and upwards girls! Ros Pateman

4th XI 0 Merton 1 A well-fought tussle against ten men ended in defeat, the goal coming from a crisp short-corner strike three minutes from half-time following Nigel Hawes’s yellow card for a sliding tackle five yards outside his D. Steve Harmer, his stand-in, clearly took to heart the stand part of his description and stood statuesquely as the shot rifled past him.

That aside, we had the lion’s share of the possession, as might be expected with a one-man advantage, but failed to do much with it. We managed two shots on target during the entire game, and neither of them threatened to burst the net. Only Louis Strover looked dangerous up front but he was simply not given enough chances. We played the ball round well, passed well, defended well, but failed to perform where it mattered.

Merton kept nine men behind the ball with a lone striker, defended and tackled well, and created the better chances, twice forcing Hawes into good saves. It was a fair result against a side who controversially adopted a reverse Kolpak approach and decided to play two Englishmen in their otherwise South African dominated ten. It is an unacceptable trend and Merton need to take immediate action if a trickle of English players is not to become a flood.

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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Match reports - October 20, 2007

1st XI 1 UCL Academicals 0 Click here for photos An ugly win but a very important one. The game was extremely scrappy with neither side creating any really clear cut open play chances in the second half with in the final analysis the number of yellow cards we received being the talking point.

UCL complained they were 5 short including 2 New Zealand internationals so more fool them for missing such an important game. We too were 5 men short taking into account Smudger, Rippers twice, Duffers and Knappy so all in all an even encounter.

We took the lead somewhat against the run of play when a slick move down the right enabled us to attack the back line and set up Gavin Adair who tucked the ball away with a difficult finish. Again, excellent use of the advantage by the umpire allowed the move to continue when a number of umpires would have called the play back. The ensuing 15 minutes saw us play our best hockey and some incisive passing and running into space enabled us to create a number of chances that were not taken. Meanwhile at the other end Robbo dealt very effectively with all that was thrown at him. Our deficiency was the way we kept giving the ball away with UCL putting us under pressure which made us hurry and force the ball too much – a distinct lack of using our experience.

This was always going to be a tough match and our cause was not helped by a flurry of yellow cards – 4 in all for us – and yet none for UCL whose goalkeeper told the umpire for 34 minutes of the second half what he thought of him. Fair to say that the UCL vociferous crowd were very good at calling the decisions which the umpire followed to a T. The game should have been wrapped up in the 50th minute when we were very fortuitously awarded a stroke for a stick tackle when a short corner would have been a better decision but Knappy gave the keeper an east save with a very poor stroke. Surprisingly the UCL player stayed on the pitch unlike 2 of our players who received yellows for less innocuous tackles.

Nevertheless our dogged determination and Duffy’s ability to crack the ball off the end of the pitch when needed – something we have lacked for many years – saw us run out winners, the defence dealing capably with the eight or so short corners we needed to defend.

After four games we now find ourselves three points clear at the top Merton losing to Bank of Boks who have at last emerged from their slumbers. In fact, that match must have been like playing in Cape Town with their doubtless enjoying their country’s deserved win in the world cup final. As the league stands at the moment after this coming weekend we will have played the top four so a win would put us in a very strong position.

Merton next week at home which is another must win game.

2nd XI 3 UCL Academicals 0 The first win of the season came at the fourth attempt and it was a well-deserved victory, even if the margin rather flattered. UCL had much of the early possession but failed to do anything with it, producing only one on-target shot all match. Jon Heard and Dodie Khurshid, down from the 1st XI, marshaled the defence with veterans’ skill and broke down attack after attack, and we were dangerous on the break. We went one up on 17 minutes, very much against the run of play, but after the goal the same was more even. A defensive mix-up and some hockey bagatelle produced goal No. 2 seconds before the break. UCL huffed and puffed with little to show for their efforts, and a third goal, well taken from a route one ball, sealed the points.

4th XI 5 Staines 1 The IV team put the double shock of Bertie Bance’s arrest in South East Asia (yes, Interpol finally caught up with him) and John Mulholland’s turquoise Peugeot cabriolet behind us to notch our first league win of the season with a strong away performance against Staines V, deservedly winning the game 5-1.
Louis Strover struck a fine early goal high into the net, setting the tone of a half which saw us pile on the pressure against a Staines team doggedly packing their area. Chris Bents and Rob Jonker linked well and at pace down the right flank whilst John Mulholland set the pace of the game from midfield, ably supported by Steve Harmer’s incisive tackling. Continued pressure culminated in a goal from Steve Harmer [note to editor - insert Steve’s six-page thesis on his goal here]. Staines pulled a goal back shortly afterwards, giving us a 2-1 lead at half time.
Staines opened up after the break, allowing Louis Strover to do what Louis Strover does, slotting home two more goals to complete his hat-trick, either side of a well taken debut goal from Smeer. Thanks to Peter Shanks for stepping in for us at short notice! Dom Tucker

Ladies 0 Old Georgians 0 Stalemate at TD but a cracking game nevertheless, with excellent skills on display from both sides even though there were not many clear-cut scoring chances. Georgians enjoyed the lion’s share of the first-half, failing to get more than a couple of shots on target despite 16 short-corners, including nine in succession. The second half was more even as holes began to appear as legs tired, but even thought we finished stronger a draw was a fair result. What the game did show was that without Dora we lacked enough firepower up front.

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Saturday, 13 October 2007

Match reports - October 13, 2007

1st XI 6 Surrey Old Boys 2 Click here for match photos - Once again the availability – or more to the point the lack of availability – gave the skipper serious headaches until the last minute. As it turned out Knapp became available late on and so there was some flexibility in team selection. We welcomed back Robbo in goal for his first game for some 18 months and it was inspired performance from him that kept us in the hunt throughout the first half. Surrey Old Boys, with some familiar faces from last season’s Surrey University team – including the car park caber tosser from last year - came to us on the back of a good win against our 2006-07 nemesis Bank of Boks. Any thoughts that we were in for an easy afternoon were dispelled in a tight first half that saw us fortuitously winning 2 – 0 at the break. Two early goals from Knapp – set up wonderfully by Adair – and a vintage Copleston short corner strike enabled us to take the lead from two rare forays into the SOC’s half. Robbo in the meantime was dealing very effectively with everything thrown at him including a first-class save from a penalty stroke that in the final analysis turned the game. Indeed, but for a slightly way ward Knapp pass to Adair we would have gone it at the break 3 – 0. Our first half performance was very poor with bad decision making and no imagination when in tight situations going down the right. One of the highlights of the first half was Tony Rowe’s play of the advantage to the attacking side – a rare feature by most umpires at this level.

Within 10 minutes of the restart SOB were level with what appeared to be two lifted balls into the D – a similar one had been blown against us in the first half – not that we could complain after the luck went our way in the first 35-minute period. This seemed to sting us into action and the next 20 minutes saw us play our best hockey of the match with the midfield linking up with defence and attack that enabled us to play some great patterns and score three well-worked tap ins form Adair, Tissy and Knapp. Our sixth goal was the best of the lot with CB playing the ball out of defence quickly when an SOB short broke down, the midfield cracking the ball to Adair who took the ball on the reverse in stride and roofed the ball past the hapless keeper.

As the game wore on we played much better but must be aware of the sluggish start and some key players being off the pace. Bruce, come down next week please and take the warm up. In the final analysis the performance of the keepers decided this match although the defence did mop up most that was thrown at them. Even at this stage the next month promises to be pivotal for the season ahead of us and the hope has to be that the injuries to Smudger and Bruce are on the mend so they will be available together with the returning Cato and Lewis. David Knapp
Barnes 4 2nd XI 1

3rd XI 2 Guildford Shadows 3 After the failing of the opening game of the season, we went down to the A3 to face Guildford Shadows on the notoriously bouncy water base. Starting with the most welcome Preston Rutt back up front, it became very evident in the early stages that Guildford knew their pitch significantly better than we did. They launched some quick balls down our flanks which Adam and Jock handled well and Stu was, as ever, the rock in the centre picking up the runners (its easier than chasing them). Although conceding several short corners, runners CD and Adam neutralised these with excellent panache.

After 15 minutes, we found our feet and started to play its own hockey instead of letting Guildford dominate the game. CD and Adam made an excellent run up the left flank that tear their defence apart, Dave L had a lucky reactionary save followed by a hit that soared over the bar that would have made Jonny Wilkinson proud. The final two minutes came and a short corner was excellently taken by Guildford which flew over the keeper hitting the top inch of the backboard, 1-0 and half time!

The second half started with greater composure and as it progressed, we started to press higher. An occasional break was handled by Stu and Rich L in the central defence. The breakthrough came with a pass to returning captain (last week being useless in Spain) with a textbook dummy. Shot from the top of the D taking a heavy deflection from a guildford defender to open his season's account. Guildford returned the favour only moments later with a well hit shot for the top D after some sloppy defending, 2-1.

Although some excellent runs and attacks from Dave L and Preston as well as a strong right midfield in drafted Rob Jonker, our equaliser came from a short corner with Jock receiving the ball, passing (yes you read that right) to Armo who fired home his second of the day. The game significantly opened up and for five minutes could have swung either way however a short corner in the last two minutes threw the runners and keeper and took away a well fought point.

A good game to come back from last week on a very hard pitch. Both umpires were excellent and although Tim Cook was asked to card Jock, he was more than sporting in not doing so. Man of the Match went to Adam Mcilroy who also announced that he will be a father come April, congratulations Adam. James ‘here one week in three’ Armitage

Ladies 2 Spencer 2nd XI 2 After fighting the Saturday afternoon traffic we eventually made it to Spencer in time for our 3pm push back. We had a strong start and in the first 15 minutes probably held the majority of the possession but could not seem to convert the chances. Spencer piled on the pressure winning several penalty corners in which our defence of Katy, Ros, Muriel, Tux and Rosie held strong. At half time the score was dead locked at 0-0. We went out hard in the second half and before long in open play a cracking cross from Laura set up a goal slammed in the back of the goal from Dora. We were one up with a long way to go and Spencer kept pushing us backwards. We conceded more penalty corners but still held strong. The forwards, Dora, Caz, Nina and Laura were having to track back to cover the Spencer backs pushing forward and then working hard to get forward again when we regained possession. At some point a shout was heard by Ros at the back to the spectators on the side 'Does anyone know the football score?!' Hearing our boys were winning in the Euro 2008 qualifier spurred us on and eventually we won another penalty corner and this time a rebound off the Spencer goalie gave Laura her debut goal for the OC ladies! 2-0 up but still 15 minutes to go.

A reoccurring injury of vice captain Muriel meant our midfield of Sarah Hardiman, Ana and Jax had to reshuffle for a while before Muriel gallantly returned to the pitch and battled on! Spencer pressed us hard and we gave their captain too much space for what has to be said was a great reverse-stick strike to make the score 2-1. We pushed back, winning several more penalty corners but so did they, several of which we only just managed to clear off the line. However, with five minutes to go they managed to converted one of their penalty corners to make it 2-2. The score line finished here a fair reflection of a hard fought evenly matched game. We look forward to the return match! Jackie Joyce

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Match reports - October 6, 2007

No match report from the 1st XI this week but they came away from Addiscombe with all three points thanks to a 2-0 win.

The 2nd XI lost 0-3 to Woking. Abeed Janmohamed reports: “A better performance than last week still saw us go down 3-0 against the newly-promoted Woking side 3-0. Yet again we struggled to raise a side, having lost players to the 1s and holidays. Thanks to Christian Davis and Wade Pollard For stepping in at the last minute - both played very well. Rob Merry was also forced to cut his six-week lay off following a double fracture to his finger to just two weeks - less than ideal!

The first half saw some good hockey by both sides. We defended well and Mike Smith and Daffy (two new additions to the club) looked dangerous roaming up front. When we were composed on the ball and put together a series of short passes we cut Woking apart. However Woking were equally effective by keeping a high tempo - we were slow to form for free hits and they took advantage of this.
At half time the game was evenly poised. The balance shifted dramatically in the first ten minutes of the second half. We were once again caught on the hop when Tom Merry managed to get in front of his man but was unlucky as the ball bounced off his stick in the air. Woking put the ball down straight away and scored without any real challenge.

One fortunate goal still left us very much in the game but we panicked. We were frenetic on the ball trying ludicrously low percentage long passes - I don't think one hit was actually successful in finding a recipient in the second half. This despite having talked at half time about how good we looked when we strung together short passes and were composed on the ball.

We also crowded around the ball defending their set pieces, which meant they only needed to pierce the initial group of defenders to be in the clear, this they did with alarming regularity. Another soft goal followed shortly after the first. We did then get back into the game. However after a breakaway by one of their attackers Kelson who came out of his D could only clear the ball as far as the next attacker who made no mistake. Despite a determined final surge we were all but sunk.
The 3rd XI were completely outplayed by Purley Walcountians, three goals in each half giving the visitors a deserved win. The game was even for 20 minutes before purley took the lead through a fortuitous goal after the ball appeared to be controlled by the striker via his chest, but thereafter we could have no complaints.

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Monday, 1 October 2007

Match reports - September 29 2007

A mixed first week … but the 1st XI, who are still incapable of providing match reports, beat Walton 4-2, going four up before going to sleep in the last ten minutes and shipping two late goals.

Walton & Weybrdige 3 2nd XI 2
Pulling together a side for our opening encounter proved difficult as both the 1sts and 2nds lost players to holiday and injury. Despite this we managed to put together a decent 11. The importance of a strong start was once again demonstrated as we conceded two soft goals in the first quarter. How much of this was due to the fact we only had 10 men for this period or the alleged 'average' umpiring by the co-captain who was standing in after fracturing his finger the previous week is uncertain. What was certain was that we missed a number of tackles for each and lacked the hunger to keep them out of our D.
The game saw some good hockey by both sides. Unfortunately in our case it tended to be for short spells and we were never really able to string together a concerted period of pressure.

The two goals the first scored by Preston Rutt following a goalmouth scramble -he controlled a high ball superbly and slotted it past the on rushing keeper. The second goal scored by Abs following a typical lucky barnstorming run which released Chris 'the pocket rocket' Tissanaygam down the right hand side - who used his pace to get in behind the defence and drag the ball across the area to Abs who following an average first touch somehow managed to get the ball past the keeper. I think he surprised even himself!

A save on the line by James Armitage from a short corner ensured that the deficit remained one with 10 minutes to go and we looked like having a good chance to get some points. It was Walton & Weybridge who looked the more nervous side and we looked particularly dangerous on the break.

However our inability to use one side of the pitch (worryingly the right hand side!!) and lack of discipline (Porter talked a green card for the finale in a serious of very average 'tackles' into a yellow) eventually ended our hopes of getting the season off to a good start.

If we can extend the short phases of good, controlled play into our regular pattern and keep our discipline we will be a tough assignment for most sides this season... Rob Merry

Ladies 4 Barnes 1
Our opening match of the season was against Barnes, Hounslow and Ealing who, in our match against them last season, proved to be a banana skin for us and so we were keen to make amends. The opening 10 minutes saw some good attacking play from us but no goal. BHE then caught us on the break and a cross saw one of their forwards slot the ball past the diving Katy. We raised our game and the forwards of Dora, Ana and Caz started to link well with the midfield of Jax, Vikki, Nina and Sarah passing the ball quickly around resulting in some good attacking play. A strike from Sarah saw the keeper kick the ball back to Vikki who fired home to level. We continued from the push back at the same level, keen to get a lead before half time. The defenders - Ros, Hels, Helen Merry, Tux, George - were not letting BHE through, extinguishing any attacks they had and quickly re-distributing the ball. We continued to press which led to several short corners and a superb strike from Sarah from a short corner saw us take a 2-1 lead in to half time.

We knew they would come back at us in the second half but again the defence held firm, making some text book tackles and were beginning to frustrate them. Katy was excellent in goal, saving several short corners and as the game went on, we had more attacks and some skilful play saw Dora strike home our third goal. Legs began to tire but we continued to attack and a goal mouth scramble saw Dora get her second of the game, our fourth. 4-1 final score, a great start to the season. We played some good hockey at times, were supporting each other and passing well which, if we keep doing and improving, it should be a great season.

The only concerns from the game was that Rosie didn't make the match - she was last heard of still in France after the England win on Friday having "missed her train".....and a number of the team admitting to being addicted to Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday night!! Vikki Mottram

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