Match reports December 12 2009
Andover 2-2 1st XI
Three months ago would we have settled for an unbeaten first half of the season with us topping the table? Yes, we would have. However our top position is possibly only until Southampton play their game in hand and by dropping two points today we have lost our cushion gained from the Wanderers results involving Southampton and OMWs. Two points certainly dropped but for the first time ever we reach Christmas unbeaten in the league, having won eight and drawn three. The league is still in our hands so at least we are not reliant on the other teams around us dropping points.
We could not have started better with a wonderful flowing move, a ball cracked in by Jonny H for Gavin to deflect home his 8th of the season. Criminally Andover were allowed to score an equaliser in minutes with what was an untidy goal from our perspective but all credit to a young Andover team who were not prepared to be rolled over. For the next 10 minutes the game became scrappy before we exerted some pressure, won a series of shorts and regained the lead when Rippers flicked home a well worked corner. From this point on we created chance after chance but the home keeper was in inspired form, saving well from Gavin and Knappy and dealing with the other six or seven corners we forced with ease.
Much of the same in the second half but even though we had 80% of the game Andover equalized scoring on the break with a swift interchange of passes that left James in goal stranded. Knapp and Adair again had vicious shots well saved and try as we might we could not force a way passed a resolute keeper. Another eight or more corners produced nowt, we lost out structure and for a period were guilty of trying to win the game as individuals instead of playing our usual fast passing game. Andover did look dangerous on the break when we over committed but we could and should have won.
Ten years ago we came down to Andover having won 10 out of 10, dominated from start to finish, came up against an inspired keeper and went away tail between our legs losing 4 - 3. At least this time we left Andover bloodied but unbeaten. Great defensive play from our hosts who fought hard and well when they could easily have rolled over. Yes, we missed a number of good chances and did not choose the right option in the D on occasions but we did play some top hockey and created a hatful of chances.
Not all doom and gloom with us still being the side to beat. David Knapp
2nd XI 0-5 Oxted
4th XI 3-1 Aldershot and Farnham
Warning - this report was written by the galloping medic, Steve Harmer
Friends, hockey players, country men, lend me your eyes!
In the words of Elton John, ‘the bitch, the bitch, the bitch is back, and stone cold sober as a matter of fact!’ That’s right, Harmer’s column returns this week to bring all its loyal readers, the best in social, political and hockey commentary. Go on, admit it, you have missed me!
It seems a life time ago since the start of the hockey season, when this column brought you the highlights of our season opener against the ladies team. From which a number of the 4th team concluded that we were going to be in for one hell of a trying season. The match was hard, laboured and as ugly as the off spring conceived from a one night stand between Wayne Rooney and Kerry Katona.
Thankfully dear reader, under the leadership of our carrot topped commander, Dom ‘Ginger Nuts’ Tucker. The ‘Mighty 4th Team’ have continued their Terry’s Chocolate Orange Revolution from last season and have charged up the league during October and November quicker than Simon Cowell sucking up to Cheryl Cole! ‘As we say in the Mighty 4TH team ‘The future is bright, the future is ginger (cake)’ and we have rarely found ourselves outside of the top four.
So this week, as you can imagine the pent up frustration from last week's match focused the squad’s minds ahead of our encounter against Aldershot and Farnham (A&F). In fact at one point we had so many players, the captain had to request one or two players step down. Thankfully Bish saw the light and realised that his wife might want him around to help move house this weekend, Crumby was dying from swine flu (we all know he ate too much cake as his son’s Starwars themed party last week!) and Adam found himself moved onto a different Surrey Police shift.
Unfortunately what brought most consternation, worry and fret between those chosen few that form the Mighty 4th Team squad was the injury to the OCHC club very own David Beckham. Steve ‘Golden Balls’ Harmer was scheduled to return after two weeks out due to his sponsor’s photo shoots in the Middle East and Caribbean. Alas due to an early morning automobile related incident outside of his South West London mansion on Tuesday, said Harmer found himself with an ankle injury. Due to a UK media injunction which came into effect on Friday night, the column cannot report on the details. However we can confirm that no fire hydrant was involved, Lady Harmer was not found holding a golf club over his body and there are absolutely no naked pictures of him with any blonde Las Vegas hostesses! Even with this considerable set back the Mighty 4th team were not worried as it was confirmed that Golden Balls would be on the touchline, prowling, gesticulating and directing like ‘Don’ Fabio Capello during an England international.
As the golden generation of players that form the Mighty 4th team assembled on the hallowed astro turf at Thames Ditton. We were joined by a number of lovely and charming ladies that form the core of the OC 4th’s WAGS, with special mention to Sarah who was attending her first hockey match ever after her engagement to Atsushi. The opposition brought two jail bait CHAV’s with them who spent most of the match smoking fags in the stands. Our WAGS were delighted to meet them, just as much as when they realised that winter had finally arrived, with the wind whipping across the playing fields making us all feel colder than a penguin’s chuff!
Complementing our existing squad players this week we were joined by the mercurial talents of James ‘Armo’ Armitage, Tommy ‘Gun’ Trinder and Howard ‘The’ Duck. Just like a fine wine, we had been well rested, decanted with care and ready to be enjoyed. Well apart from Nick Aston and Jamal that had been at Christmas parties the previous night and frankly smelt like mobile Stella Artois breweries!
The first half started with the Mighty 4TH team finding their feet in a busy midfield space however with the opposition only starting with 10 players we started to take advantage. Thankfully it was not long before some excellent passing between the midfield players down the left found the ball pinged across towards the right post with Howard finding the deft touch to put the ball round the stranded keeper.
At that point the flood gates should have opened however A&F held firm and somehow managed to snuff out all of our shots on goal. Credit has to go to their keeper who was a literal brick wall blocking multiple strikes from Jamal. As our frustration grew we started to lose our structure and concentration. This resulted in many of our midfield trying to dribble rather than pass their way up the pitch and not use the natural advantage of width.
In a rare counter attack by A&F, the ball evaded our backline (probably they were freezing cold due to lack of action) and somehow the ball ended up past Big Smith in goal. He was about as impressed as Mrs Tiger Woods reading the USA tabloid press. We managed to avoid any other disasters and came in at half time at 1 -1.
Reshuffling the pack at half time found Oxo returning to midfield, Atsushi finding a home at right back, Howard moving to central midfield with Tommy Trinder providing a wise head at right half. Smeer found space on the right wing and Nick J came into his own on the left touch line. Fabio would have been proud!
The second half was a lovely example of a full press by OC’s in the A&F half with the opposition rarely getting across the half way line. In fact, Grant Archer (at centre back) was so cold (as he had nothing to do) that he was signalling to his respective WAG to hand over her gloves. This request was met with a direct rebuff and Grant spent the last 30 minutes with his hand in his pockets.
Alas whatever we did, we just could not break down the A&F defence and slot one past the keeper. However as we maintained the constant pressure cracks began to appear with the opposition using more desperate tactics to prevent shots on target. On two occasions ‘Nurse Harmer’ was summoned from the sideline with a first aid kit and a bag of ice to attend to opposition players (we hope they recover soon).
To break the deadlock the OCHC touchline team decided to mix things up by subbing off Jamal, however he had one final magic trick up his sleeve before leaving the pitch and found himself at the top of the D in front of a charging keeper with space to shoot. He unleashed a strike with such power that if the A&F keeper had the temerity to get a body part in the way, then that limb would be removed with the ease of a hot knife going through butter. Alas the keeper did and nearly killed himself (I am not joking!) only to see Jamal pushing the rebound into the net.
From then on it was one way traffic with Oxo, Smeer, Armo, Howard and Tommy taking total control and all going close. At times the passing creativity and combinations of Stefano, Oxo and Nick J down the left were simply beautiful. Smeer went close several times before Nick J found the space to unleash a Louis Strover (supporting from the sidelines) type strike that flew past the keeper catching the top of the back board with a resounding crash.
At the final whistle, we had won the game 3 – 1 against a well drilled, motivated and competitive A&F side who we look forward to playing in the New Year. We celebrated after the match by feasting on homemade ‘White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Muffins’ by Lady Harmer and Chocolate Chip Cookie by Sarah (fiancé of Atsushi).
Muffin recipe below.
• 2 1/2 cups biscuit and baking mix
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
• 3/4 cup half-and-half
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
1. Combine baking mix and sugar in a large bowl; stir in chocolate and nuts. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine half-and-half and remaining 3 ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
2. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400° for 11 to 12 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately
On behalf of the team, many thanks to Martin for umpiring and all those that supported on the side line Strover (and family), Tom Pollard, Rob Jonker’s, Chris Bents and our lovely WAGS Sarah, Sarah, Amy and Stephanie.
A well worked win that lifts us back to 4th in the league behind the leading pack. Next week, our last game before Christmas away at Oxted which should keep all of us away from present shopping.
So dear readers, we have come to the end of this match report, it has been emotional!
So good night beautiful people (not you Armo), may your god bless and see you in 2010!
Harmer’s Column signing off.
Tulse Hill & Dulwich 1-5 Ladies XI