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Monday, 7 April 2008

Helen Hawes named man of the year

A very good night for all who attended the dinner on the 5th, with a well timed power cut preventing the satellite link to the veterans and third XI from being activated. Very suspicious that Ed Breton indicated that the power should be back on at 22.00 and at 22.02 the power was back with us. As always votes of thanks go to those who ensured that people like me could just turn up, drink plenty of alcohol, eat well, have a laugh and go home contented. Special thanks to Sarah, Alison and Ed B who did the hard work to make the evening a great success and I am sure that there were others who also had a hand in setting up the club - apologies for not naming you personally.

Well done to Helen Hawes for winning the club captain's award for years of unrecognised work behind the scenes and in ensuring that the ladies club is in such a strong position - the ladies never seem to have any crises experienced by the other teams in the club but if they do they resolve them without involving everyone else. The general consensus was that next year they play in purple.

The first XI players player award went to Rippers - Ed B please find the trophy in one of the cardboard boxes but come back to me if you can't so I can chase Mike N.

Second XI award went to Jon Heard with the ladies giving out a number of awards to various members of their team.

Rob picked up the 4ths award even though he was rude to me when I umpired them in February.

Not sure who won the 3rd XI and Veterans awards as they were presented in China by Robert Mugabe and made reference to Tibet.

Next year I am setting the social committee and myself a target of 100 attendees so to that end a date will be decided on by the end of October so there are many months to sell the tickets and ensure that teams are involved.

Have a good summer, keep recruiting where ever possible.
David Knapp

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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Match reports - April 5, 2008

Ladies XI 1-1 Guildford 2nd XI
The season finished with one of our best performances of the campaign against a … er … surprisingly strong Guildford side who had they been able to play like this every week, or even field the same XI, would have romped the division. That they finished below us was possibly more to do with the fact their 1st XI were not in action. Anyhow, with two wins since October, Guildford dominated the first 25 minutes, almost laying siege as we rarely managed to break out of our half, although some outstanding defence limited them to few shots, and they failed to capitalise on numerous short-corner chances. We actually finished the half the stronger, twice going close. The second half was more even, although Guildford always looked more likely to score, and when they finally scrambled home a short corner midway through the half and then created several more chances, the writing seemed to be on the wall. But, to our immense credit, we dug deep, weathered more attacks, and started to push for the equaliser. The last five minutes were nothing of not entertaining. Guildford claimed a penalty flick when a surging run at goal was ended by a typically forceful Ros tackle, neither umpire ruling it unfair to the almost tearful protests of the forward, and a minute later Vikki Mottram hit the post. Eighty seconds from time a break down the right, a cross and an ecstatic Jackie Joyce swept home the equaliser to our undisguised delight. Guildford’s day ended in embarrassment when their coach, who displayed boorishness as well as ignorance and tactical naivety, decided to lambaste our umpire for the incident near the end, ignoring the fact that neither official had seen an offence. Three of his squad shook hands with the official while a number of them, egged on by the boor, loudly made clear their feelings. Class.

A superb end to the season with one of our most spirited displays, and a reflection on just what a united and excellent bunch of ladies we have in the club.

Vets XI 0-2 Tring
The Vets ended the season in defeat but it was one of the most entertaining games of a long campaign. Tring brought a much stronger side than we had seen previously, including our old friend Matt Leedham, returning to hockey after an 11-year break, but we played some superb hockey in the first half but went into the break one down. We failed to hit the target often enough and our short-corner routine never really functioned. As we pressed for the equaliser, Tring started to threaten more but our defence held firm until ten minutes from time when they scored a second from a breakaway. Five minutes later Dodie Khurshid found himself in utterly unfamiliar territory – in the D lining up for a shot – when he was fouled. The resulting flick from Andy Eve was in the realms of the worst ever but by then the game was up.

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Saturday, 29 March 2008

Match reports - March 29, 2008

1st XI 5-2 Wanderers
A welcome win against a team who have perennially been a thorn in our side and having been 1–0 down what a result it would seem to be. However, the scoreline masks the truth somewhat greatly and we could have saved ourselves much half baked effort and taken a 3–0 forfeit when offered it at the outset with the news that the HAC keeper was stuck at Terminal 5 and one other of their players had gone awol. We faced the nine-man opposition and it took us until half time to score and only then because we had gone one down. Nine short corners and shocking finishing enabled the stand-in but very effective HAC keeper to keep a clean sheet until the 30th minute or so when Rippers eventually beat him with a rasping shot from the top of the D.

The second half was not a great deal better but at least we scored four more, a drive from Copleston at a short, two from Smudger from the top of the D as well and finally a Cookiey effort being deflected just under the bar. The last hurrah belonged to HAC who pushed the ball home at the fourth attempt from their last short corner. From the start the game had an end of term feel to it and we were all thankful when the final whistle blew.

Four wins out of four at the start of the season was thrown away in three horrible weeks in November from which we were always going to struggle to catch up. Two matches with 10 men is inexcusable and to be frank it would have been a travesty had we won promotion. Our tenants UCL won the league and Wanderers now go into the play-offs and we sincerely hope they win the match that we failed to do so miserably last season. I, for one, certainly do not wish to play against Wanderers next season as they were the best side we played against by a country mile. We wish Wanderers all the best in the play-off in a month’s time and UCL and hopefully Wanderers well for next season in the league above.

Finally, I must call into question the merit of playing a league match after Easter when an extra game could have been played before the Christmas break or the league could have commenced again a week earlier as I am sure all teams in the various leagues would have felt more comfortable having the leagues wrapped up ahead of Easter. The downside would have been a six-week gap before the play offs !

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Sunday, 16 March 2008

Match reports - March 15, 2008

The 2nd XI secured their South Open Surrey Area - Division 1 status with a 4-0 win over Wanderers which means that as other results went our way, we cannot be relegated. So tight is the league that we could finish fifth if we win our last game. The 1st XI, with nothing to play for, went down 3-5 at Old Midwhitgiftians, and the Ladies turned in a below-par performance to lose 1-3 to Richmond. The 3rd XI, already relegated, had hoped to end James Armitage’s captaincy on a high but instead crashed to a 3-9 loss at Reigate Priory. The Vets battled to a 1-0 win at St Albans.

2nd XI 4-0 Wanderers
A result that has ensured safety with a game to spare, and a victory in two weeks time could mean a top half of the table finish. It was another cracking performance (13 points now from a possible 15) and perhaps a realisation that we should have been competing at the other end of the table all season!

We did start slowly and Wanderers created the first real chance, superbly saved by a combination of Mike and the crossbar. It was the wake up call we needed and Neil converted a short corner variation - apparently the shot was going 3 feet wide before a defender's foot intervened. A second from Mark soon followed and we switched to cruise control waiting for the half time whistle.

After the break we upped the tempo again and created a succession of short corners, but sadly it was the one part of our game not firing. Open play though was and Mark scored a blistering second, firing into the far corner from the top of the D. Moments later he was guilty of hat-trick avoidance, pushing wide when faced with an open goal, however made up for it by slipping a deft pass to David who finished clinically. Another good performance, with most of the team enhancing their reputations from the solidity at the back through the marking and creativity in the midfield to the finishing up front.

Crucially we need to build on our 2008 performances next season. We have the makings of a very good side that should be competing to win the league, not just stay in it, but that will take a higher level of commitment than evidenced this year. If we can maintain the solid backbone of the team we have put out the last 5 games and perhaps even get to practice occasionally we would be off to a good start! Paul Acutt

Ladies 1-3 Richmond
We went into the match having not lost a game since just before Christmas. With two matches left we wanted a strong finish to the season and to try and move up a place or two in the league. We were missing Tux in the centre of defence but at least we had Katy in goal as last time we played Richmond we were missing her and two other defenders! We were sure we could do better this time around!

We started off one short and a bit disorganised but were soon up to 11 players and had settled down a bit. Possession was fairly even but Richmond were doing a good job of hanging around our backs and switching alot which lead to some confusion in the defence. Fifteen minutes in a shot from the top of the D took a deflection into our goal and we were 1-0 down. To be fair not an awful lot we could have done about it. We tried to get back into the game and Dora had a couple of shots go just wide of the post, it could easily have been a level score. May and Nikki were making some great runs on the right as always dribbling around players and sprinting down the wing to put a couple of crosses into the circle, but we just couldn't get on the end of them. Another Richmond attack and a couple of penalty corners awarded against us which we managed to defend comfortably - it wasn't Richmond's day for short corners. But more pressure from Richmond and before long they scored another goal, again another deflection into the back of the goal. 2-0. We had a couple of shorties but like Richmond had no luck and went into half time 2-0 down but not with heads down.

Three minutes into the second half and we were three down after a scramble in the D, a defender kicked the ball into Katy and the rebound was slotted home with ease. We were determined to try and pull it back. Our defence of Muriel, Sarah and George had now got the Richmond's forwards well under control and Rosie was doing a great job of mopping up any loose players, intercepting the ball and then moving it forwards. Nina was doing a great job of distributing the ball around and we started playing our game of hockey, short sharp passes, and we were much more in control, working as a team moving it around the back and moving it forwards as a unit and supporting each other. Richmond were still putting pressure on us though and saw a shot (that everyone thought was going wide bounce off the post and curl backwards toward the goal line with a Richmond player diving towards it. Katy dived to her left, full stretch and made an excellent save.

Although by this point it looked extremely unlikely we were going to get a result we held our heads high battled on continuing to attack hard. And the perseverance paid off. A quick free hit taken by Sarah H to Jax swept into the circle towards the goal and came off first Dora then to Anna who finished it off. We had at least got one back and that could have been two but Jackie was inches from turning in a superb cross.

The match ended 3-1 and Richmond probably deserved the win but it was a brave performance from us, we kept our heads up and gave it 110% until the final whistle. Although we lost the match and our mood reflected that, it was in no way a performance to be ashamed of. Jackie Joyce

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Sunday, 9 March 2008

Match reports - March 8, 2008

NPL 0-5 1st XI
Another far from convincing performance but perhaps it is churlish to be critical of a 5 – 0 victory but it is a sign of the high standards we have set ourselves this year. NPL came to us as bottom of the pile and if we were expecting a push over it was not to be as NPL took the game to us in the first 15 minutes. Our break came when our striker was impeded illegally by a stick tackle when about to score and Breton popped away the stroke. Two more quick goals from debutant Andy Craven and a beautifully executed free hit by Rippers and the game was over even though Robbo had to make two important saves.

Any chance of a come back from NPL went when their left back earned himself a ridiculous yellow that he decided should be turned into an “advance to home card” with him jumping into his car and leaving his remaining 10 team mates to fight on without him. Adair and Knipp added to the NPL woes finishing off 2 moves with tap ins, Adair being particularly unselfish in setting up Knopp. Adair was in high spirits having just become a dad of twin girls, allegedly born the size of Ed Breton.
Two games left and two wins required for some self esteem.Rex Bermon

Croydon 2-2 Ladies
After an eventful journey to Croydon with a few sore heads and managing to get there more by luck than judgement, we were determined to come away with a better result than the 0-2 loss at home to them earlier in the season. Croydon were leading the league table, but we knew we were more than capable of beating them.

We were glad to have our usual defenders back of Ros, Tux, Muriel and Mez - who had her work cut out form her from the start, marking Croydon's nifty winger and captain. We started well passing the ball around well with some excellent distribution coming form the back. Before long Caroline 'The Havoc' Hall had made an excellent run up the wing passed it across to Vikki who passed to Dora 'Tjhe Scorer' on the edge of the circle who melted the ball in with her usual class putting us 1-0 up! Croydon as expected pushed back hard won several short corners of which Katy had to make a couple of excellent sales before unfortunately one of them crept into the back of the goal levelling the score. Another Croydon shot five minutes later ricocheted off the post before a much welcome half time.

After our usual half time and much appreciated oranges sent by coach Mott (who was unfortunately not able to attend this week or next as he is living it up snowboarding - priorities!) we knew we had to up the anti as Croydon would be out to do the same. The midfielders of Sarah H, Jax and Nina (the latter who didn't appreciate the extra running around required of playing midfield this week rather than forward, after a night out on the tiles in Chelsea - she even did the walk of shame as she turned up in her previous nights outfit - that's right Nina, I can make things up too!), were running their legs off doing an excellent job of supporting the defence and moving the ball up the pitch and creating the attack. Even so Croydon won yet more short corners and a rebound off a Croydon forward between her own legs and into the goal which we didn't have a chance of saving put us behind for the first time in the match 2-1. Our heads were by no means down though! Although May had got slightly lost on her way to the pitch (about 1/2 hour late lost!) she had turned up at half time so we had some fresh turbo speed legs now warmed up and ready to come on! Mez was also glad of having Mrs Sangster to sub with too and between them they did on excellent job on their difficult player! Less than 10 minutes later the ball was crossed into the circle went from Sarah H to Vikki who slotted it past the keeper for a silky finish 2-2. We were not done by a long way though but neither we Croydon! Both teams battled hard with a relatively even distribution of possession and some end to end hockey. We had a shot go just wide of the post, they caught us on the break, we conceded penalty corners and they managed to concede none the whole match, Nina received and elbow in the jaw (I don't know what it is about her she seems to wind her opposite players up - keep doing it Nina!) and so the score ended 2-2 all. A fair result and an enjoyable match where we played some great hockey, although three points instead of one obviously would have made it more rewarding! We are now still just 4 points off a promotion spot with two matches to go. There is still a small hope of promotion but relying on some results going our way and us keeping our momentum going. Come on ladies we're nearly there! Let's keep the good work and training up for a couple more weeks and it will pay off gaining us a league position we deserve, even if not promotion! Jackie Joyce

Old Kingstonians 2-4 2nd XI
There's a lot to be said for momentum and confidence, with 10 points now taken out of a possible 12. Playing against an OKs side that had humbled us 6-1 at home the week before Christmas, this was a different encounter with us starting strongly on a flat, fast but dangerously slippery pitch. The effort and marking from back to front was superb and laid the foundation for a succession of short corners, the second of which was stopped by a pair of size 9s on the line. The ensuing stroke was calmly tucked away by Bruce. We continued to control the game and two swift counterattacks resulted in 2 more goals, the second of which was finished by the again excellent Doug marauding forward from right back. Unfortunately we did take our foot off the pedal and conceded a sloppy short corner and even softer goal.

Half time was tinged with an air of nervousness, but again we pushed on in the second half and a short corner soon followed with the strike from Paul hitting the top of the backboard. We had a number of other chances either denied by poor finishing or a decent OK's keeper and in fact OK's had the last say with a well taken deflected goal, but the edge had been taken out of the game and we comfortably held on for a well deserved 4-2 win.

As yet we are not guaranteed of our league place and need to target at least one win from our last two games to ensure safety, but if we continue to play like this that should be achieved. Proud to be part of this side today! Paul Acutt

3rd XI 2-1 Woking
As our illustrious leader donned his tightest Speedos (oh God, that’s disgusting) and sunned himself on the holding deck of the Guantanamo Bay Hilton, we embarked on the penultimate game of the season. Woking are at the bottom of the table, being kept company by our fine selves, which is a product of a sporadic season in terms of performance levels. The first half certainly served to remind us of the type of play that we have been trying to avoid, where we looked disjointed moved the ball rather sluggishly, to the extent that we conceded a relatively early goal. Woking had a couple of quick breaks on the back of their success in our D. However, towards the end of the first half we began to put together some good play with Grant, Tim and Preston working well together on the right. We won a couple of shorties of which the second yielded a goal with Preston taking a shot on goal saved by the keeper with Richie Lawrence stealing in to nutmeg the unsuspecting goalie.

With the formation critiqued and overhauled during the half time break we moved into the second half looking better, more structured and with a higher tempo. Great play notably from the player of the season Stuey Steele linking with Grant and Tim meant that we were in a far more commanding position and were able to build some good possession and moves into the oppo’s half, 25 and D and eventually converted one of these via a well taken goal from Armitage (G!). Silky skills were on display from here on in with Preston text book 270 degree spin to put the ball through to Richard L, however the Woking defence prevented the moved yielding the result that perhaps it deserved. We held the game and looked very much in control to take it to the final whistle and win 2-1.

Man of the Match was Grant who had a very strong game indeed. Many thanks also to Andy Eve, Tommy Trinder and Cookie who step in to ensure that we had the full complement and umpire, for this pride-preserving game. Other results meant that we are now relegated but at least we won with pride on the day that was confirmed. Chaz Martin

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Saturday, 1 March 2008

Match reports - March 1, 2008

The 1st XI’s promotion hopes were all but ended as we were held to a 2-2 draw at TD by Bank of England, a wondergoal three minutes from time robbing us of all three points; the Ladies came from behind to beat Wimbledon 3-1 and go within four points of top; the 2nd XI came from two down to draw with Merton and lift us out of the bottom three; the 3rd XI look set for relegation after a 0-5 drubbing by NPL, a result which leaves us needing two wins and then other results going our way; the 4th XI also suffered a big loss, 1-5 at Teddington, and now have relegation issues of their own. The Vets beat Cheam 3-2 thanks to a remarkable Tommy Trinder goal a minute from time.
1st XI 2-2 Bank of England (Click here for match photos)
After the feast of last week’s cracking game this week was not so much as after the Lord Mayor’s Ball but more like the hangover after the mother of all booze ups. Quite simply we were awful and although the fat lady is not yet singing she is certainly well into her rehearsals. Last week there was a sense of foreboding before we started but today we were off the pace in the warm up and looked jaded as we started the game against a competitive but very weakened Bank of England side. Indeed, they were short of arguably their three best players but we did little to capitalise. A lethargic first period saws us going in at half time one down, Bank being allowed to come into our circle unchallenged and roll the ball across the face of goal for their left attacker to tap home. We had bags of possession but created very little having only a couple of telling shots.

We knew the second half was going to be the defining 35 minutes of the season and somehow we scored two goals with Rippers sweeping home a Smudger cross and Knapp snapping up a loose ball from an Ed Copleston short corner strike that came off the keeper. At that point we should have closed out the game but it was not to be and B of B scored a wonder reverse stick goal that flew just inside the post through a crowd of players. We again faced a final two minutes to claw a win from the game and although the final move saw us with a four-on-two advantage the ball into Knapp from Smudger was on the final whistle and the goal bound shot was half way to the goal when the whistle went. Four seconds longer on the clock and we would have won the game.

Nevertheless a win would have masked our weaknesses and it really is a mystery how we can play the type of hockey that we played last week only to plumb the depths this week. Half the side – including myself – were not at the races today and mainly the players from whom we needed big games and so now a long spring and summer to lick our wounds before convening again for next season and the hope that any new season brings. David Knapp

Jax JoyceLadies 3-1 Wimbledon
This week saw us play against Wimbledon, who’s recent form of decent results was in stark contrast to when we met them at the beginning of the season and so this was a game where we couldn’t sit back and relax … if only we would listen to Jax’s words then things would haven’t been so nervous during the first ten minutes!

As the match started we seemed to lack any energy and this wasn’t helped by the pitch with its new layer of sand (which gets in everything!) and no rain which meant the ball was going at a snails pace and made for some sloppy mistakes. Having won the toss a second minute stumble (by myself) didn’t help things and let Wimbledon get a great counter-attack in play and a shot on goal … and all of a sudden we were on the back foot. However as we cleared our lines, through some stronger(!) defensive work and Katy’s quick keeping we slowly started to get our composer back together … that was until Wimbledon got a free hit outside the D that was pushed onto the stick of one of their defenders who was running through only for her to get a strike!
0-1 was not part of the plan and certainly Viks had obviously had enough of us prating around and within a few minutes of the restart had decided to take on a shaky Wimbledon defence in such a manor that earnt her the nickname Houdini… after dribbling the ball from the half way line she went round one player, then round another, round a third and may-be a forth (I lost count at that point as I was in ore) then through the keepers legs 1-1 (that’s better!). Right now to get a second … as we piled on the pressure with a renewed sense of purpose one of their defenders politely decided to give away a flick unfortunately Viks had momentarily lost her super powers and flicked it wide to leave the score 1-1 as we went into half time.
With the second half under way we set about getting goal number two and it wasn’t long in coming. From a 16 yard free hit we steadily built up a string of passes from the back through middle and eventually onto May’s stick. Her speed meant she had the power to get past her player with some ease and a strong from the right, just yards from the back line, skimmed past the Wimbledon deference and onto Anna’s stick who smacked it in for our second – phew. Even though we were ahead Wimbledon weren’t going to give up easily and had a number of opportunities on goal. However a Wimbledon short corner allowed us to get our third goal as they missed the push out which was picked Caz, through to Nikki, onto Vikks and then Nina smashed home our third.

If was at this point you thought Wimbledon couldn’t come back but a goal mouth scrabble meant that as the ball was cleared off Katy’s pads it hit a Wimbledon stick and then straight onto an OC players foot right on the line (yes it was mine!) … P flick. Cookie who hadn’t even intended to umpire was actually secretly enjoying the game as he awarded his second p-flick. However converting p-flicks was obviously a problem and Katy’s eyeballing of the Wimbledon player paid off as she softly push the ball which neatly caught under Katy’s pads … NO goal! With that we battled hard to final whistle and brought home the three points. Well played girls a great three points and if cut off and there is still a incy wincey chance we could get promoted but at least get a respectable place so lets keep at it! Big thanks to Cookie and Armo for umpiring much appreciated as ever! Helen Hawes

Merton 2-2 2nd XI
Except for the rather chilly breeze, I felt back home on Saturday. Having watched the 1st XI play Bank of Boks in the morning before turning up to play an all South African - bar one token Kiwi - Merton side riding high in the league whereas we languished third bottom in a potential relegation spot. We resolved to give it our best and enjoy it as any point would be a bonus, especially with poor Austin having to play as a high striker despite a pulled hamstring meaning he was outpaced by their keeper on a good few occasions.

Sadly we started sluggishly and sloppily, gifting them two goals on the break within 15 minutes. Perhaps earlier in the season we would have buckled, but some added niggle in the game - resulting in their centre-forward seeing yellow for raising his stick to the ever innocent Chris Porter - appeared to rally us as a team. Heartened by two wins on the spin, we improved vastly and actually looked the better side going into the break with Bruce, Mike and Paul all creating, but squandering decent chances.

Jax JoyceThe half-time team talk was brief but positive and soon had the desired effect with Paul drilling a reverse stick shot into the bottom right corner of the goal to make it 2-1. We pushed on and Chris made a rare foray into the opposition D where Mike slipped a deft pass back to him and the finish was calm and precise - the celebration the exact opposite with repeated gestures and whoops directed at any opposition player within 30 yards. 2-2 and again we looked the stronger side forcing a few short corners and Paul hitting the post from a tight angle, but it was Merton who earned a short corner on the final whistle after a scything player-and-all tackle from Chris. It had to be taken three times but the defence held firm. A loss would have been cruel, and somehow despite the pre-game expectation, a draw felt less than we deserved.

A superb performance considering we basically played with 10 (thanks to Austin though for playing wounded) with tireless running from Bruce and great performances from all which included games of the season from Mike, Tiss and Doug all playing in not their usual spots. The result means we jump up one place out of the relegation zone, but the other teams below us both won with a game in hand, and this result will count for nothing if we do not push on... Paul Acutt

3rd XI 0-5 NPL
In a game we had to win against the one team we could realistically catch, we were in reality never at the party against an NPL side who passed the ball well and always looked a threat on the break. We lost the battle in the middle and looked less than threatening up front. One down at the break, we went two down from a well-taken opportunists’ poach six minutes after the break and from then on there was only one winner. As has happened in several games, we shipped late goals to give the scoreline a rather flattering look, but there could be no complaints. We now face two bottom-end sides, but even if we win them both, we have to hope that NPL fail to get a point, and on the evidence here it’s not going to happen.
The OCHC ladies rush off the lineXX

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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Match reports - February 23, 2008

Wanderers 2-2 1st XI By gum this was a good game of hockey and a fitting tribute to Roger Loveland. Thank you to the league, the umpires and Wanderers for agreeing to and taking part in the minute silence. At the start of the game a draw was not going to be good enough for us but with eight minutes to go it certainly was, and still gives us a chance to sneak into the play offs but in reality Wanderers are too good to slip up now having regard to their remaining fixtures and we still have a couple of tricky ones to play.

David and Rob whistled to a standard way above that we are used to and both teams repaid the compliment by playing an expansive attacking game with chances being created at either end. Either side could have gone in a couple of goals up at the break but whilst Mike was not called upon to do much – Wanderers missing a couple of gilt edged chances as the ball flashed across our circle – Murray in the Wanderers goal made three or four top-class saves and was a real nuisance with his domination of the circle. Perhaps with a little more poise he could have been by passed but his speed to close the ball down caused us problem. Wanderers soaked up the pressure well and had a release ball into our right hand defensive area by way of a chip or aerial which proved to be very effective.

Although scoreless at half time it was fairly evident that goals had to come. The game became a little stretched as both sides went for the win and again Murray dealt with all that came his way effectively. Wanderers took the lead with a powerful drag-flick that was kept low but we had to wonder why there was a gap on the post. Not daunted we pushed up and a quick interchange of incisive passes resulted in Smudger being illegally impeded and our being given an immediate lifeline with a stroke. Murray was again on hand to deny and from the ensuing break Wanderers won another short and Rippers took a break with a yellow. The ball was struck into Mike who made a fine save but one of three Wanderers players could have nudged the ball home but only one was required – 2-0. We were in trouble. Another short corner given away and now it was Mike’s turn to make a superb save from a really powerful drag-flick that would have buried us.

Our heads did not go down and just like last week we upped our pace of passing, made a couple of positional changes and began to press. Rippers came back on and their left midfielder went off for a bad tackle – more due to the pace of the attack rather than a malicious challenge. We pulled one back, Gavin deflecting a Smudger cross home – a breach in the Wanderers last line of defence at last. We were now making all the running and as we broke out of defence the Wanderer’s mainstay in defence earned himself a yellow for an unnecessary stick block right under David’s nose. Four minutes to go and this time Bruce crashed the ball into the D with a pin point hit onto Cato’s stick who deflected the ball high into the net – 2-2.

Three minutes to go and there was only going to be one winner as we pressed and pressed. Two top-drawer chances went begging with the Man of the Match making a save with his face mask from Smudger and our failing to follow through the corner routine that we had decide to use in our huddle. The final whistle went and that was that. In past seasons we would have capitulated and lost by three or four, but when everyone is available we have a super squad and can play in a number of different ways as today showed.

Our games against Merton have been wonderful games but this was a real credit to both sides with Wanderers in both games showing that they are by far and away the best side in the league. Although both side wanted the win to snuff out the other’s chances of making the play off Wanderers will be happier with the draw albeit pretty well handing the league to UCL. David Knapp

Ladies XI 3-1 Tulse Hill (Click here for match photos) Captain Jax steered her troops to yet another victory this weekend against a usually very strong Tulse Hill & Dulwich (THD). Following a rousing, but shorter than usual, team talk from Coach Motty, who was struggling to talk at all after receiving a ball in the face in the previous game, we set about taking on the three-point challenge against a team above us in the league.

It didn’t take us long to settle and fortunately last week’s break wasn’t showing in our play. We soon took control, working the ball well through the midfield of Jax, Manny and Nikki up to the forward line of Nina, Dora and Viks. The teamwork held good to see us go ahead within the first 10 minutes through a brilliant goal from Dora.

The strength across the squad showed as Motty’s rotation system worked wonders and we were able to dominate the first half. Unforced errors and lapses in THDs concentration allowed us to split the defence through May’s pace down the wing for goal No. 2 as Dora neatly slipped the ball past the keeper.

Going into the second half leading only presented us with one issue … don’t concede a goal! We started strongly but THD had woken up and wanted to started to push the defence of Tux, Mezzer, Hels and Ros hard as they broke from their back line as we were pushing up high for our 3rd. After some poor short-corner attempts, a strike from another botched corner saw the ball squeeze into the goal and with angle being so tight even Katy couldn’t reach it.

Undeterred and with sideline support encouragement, we set about lifting our game and piling the pressure back on THD. Eventually the third goal came though a free hit just outside the D with Viks neatly placing the ball onto Dora’s stick … the shot came off the keepers pads and ‘poacher’ Caz nailed the ball home. Rumours are circulating that Dora could have got a third goal but ‘jug avoidance’ deterred her … where’s the commitment!

The final minutes of the game saw THD have a number of short-corner opportunities but Katy and Ros worked to keep THD’s strikers out as they cleared the ball away from the goal line. The final score ended 3-1 and 3 points secured.

Celebrations went on late into the evening as the girls took on the bars of Surbiton which oddly ended with two players at Kingston Police station following an altercation with a dumb taxi driver and another stranded in Hersham … I’ll let them explain! Helen Hawes

2nd XI 2-0 Surbiton For the second week in succession we played one of the two sides underneath us. Last week we beat Epsom 3-1, but a Surbiton side that boasted Pies, woefully underused in the event, in their front line were always going to be a tough proposition, and so it proved. We fielded about as good a side as we have all season and played some lovely hockey, but much of the game was played in the midfield with neither goalkeeper overworked – the match’s only short corner came in stoppage time at the end of the second half. We took the lead on 22 minutes with a scrappy goal after a slick move left the defence at full stretch, but Surbiton also had chances, hitting the post from an acute angle and forcing Kelson into a good save. We all but sealed the game when Neil Grimes’s shot from a rebound squeezed over the line eight minutes from time, and that it was out day was underlined two minutes later when Surbiton’s striker rounded Kelson and then blasted wide with the goal at his mercy. There was still time for us to make life difficult for ourselves as yellow cards reduced us to nine men for the final minutes, but we held on for a deserved win.

Sanderstead 3-2 3rd XI We went to some godforsaken place beyond Croydon to play Sanderstead and were unfortunate not to take a point with a 2-3 loss. Sanderstead had the lion's share of the start of the game and with strong runs up our left flank, an early cross within a couple of minutes from the left of the D took a cruel defection off the inside of the keeper’s foot and deflected into the goal. An event that no one likes to see was when a ball deflected high and with a stomach churning 'clonk', hit Adam in the head in open play. With a great deal of help and patience from Sanderstead, Adam made his way to the A&E department.

Able to stay with 11 men, the game restarted but a tactical change from Stu Steele (are we sure about that?) allowed us to step the game up. Some lovely passes up the flanks through Chaz and Tim started to show promise. A through ball from Armo to Preston let loose an excellent shot that was unlucky not to even the scores. As we started to press the advantage, Dave was creating problems up front and from that, a short corner game. With a clean injection, clean stop, Chaz struck cleanly to even the scores. The game started to find a steady pattern and the defence was stretched and Stu became a pivotal figure in the centre of the field tackling and distributing effectively and dangerously.

Short corners against us came, however Sanderstead couldn't breach the defence although a clearance off the line kept us even. A clean passage of play and strong movements started to wane in the last five minutes as Sanderstead started to find their feet, but it was even at half time. The second half started with Sanderstead pressuring the right and left backs of Robin Crumby and Nick Aston and moving the ball tightly and switching play started to draw our play. Our defence was holding well however a loose left winger found a lot of space and slotted home to take Sanderstead back into the lead.

The game continued but we began to find our feet again. Stu continued to control the centre of the park but strong runs through the left wing of Chaz and strong control in the centre of midfield by Preston started to create Sanderstead problems. A running ball which was going off was kept on by Armo and put onto the defender's foot to win a short corner. The resulting play was textbook, injected, stopped, slipped to Preston, drew the defensive runners, slipped the ball across the top of the D to Armo, who with far too much space drew the game level with a clean strike, textbook, kinda!

We held our own well and some excellent attacks up both flanks and through route one was escalated with Preston's distribution. The key however was Stu and Tim's defensive duties that kept Sanderstead's exceptionally gobby and generally unpleasant attacker (No. 34 and an individual we have been unfortunate enough to meet before) in check although his language was more appropriate to the football stands of Millwall than a hockey field. We wouldn't use the adjective Chav but pikey would be appropriate.

The game continued with some moments of flair and Sanderstead were switching the ball well. They broke up the right although an excellent tackle by Stu put the ball onto the attackers foot, it was missed by the umpires and across the D, the keeper was drawn and a well-flicked ball gave Sanderstead into the lead again. Some excellent attacks followed from us and Dave twice found himself with space, and time at the top of the D however defensive duties of the keeper kept the ball out. The final play came with a slipped ball up the right wing to Armo, passed across to the top of the D to Preston who was desperately unlucky not to bring the game level with an excellent piece of keeping which about summed up our season.

A hard-fought game from a physical Sanderstead and a draw would have been fair. Man of the Match was without question, Stu Steele. James Armitage

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Match reports - February 16, 2008

The 1st XI came from two goals down to thrash London University 9-2, and with other results going our way we can move into second place if we beat Wanderers next week. The 2nd XI leapfrogged Epsom with a 3-1 win in a relegation six-pointer, but the 3rd XIs woes increased as they went down 1-3 to Addiscombe. The 4th XI secured a 2-2 draw with Old Reigatians thanks to a scrambled equaliser three minutes from time.

1st XI 9-2 London University (Click here for match photos)
A game in which the score line does not tell the story in a game where our opposition were the team that started the pre Christmas rot. Against a side of 10 we started by playing some pretty hockey but were far from incisive, squandering a great deal of possession and two short corners. A double wake-up call put us two down five minutes before half time - the first from poor marking and the second from a crisp short-corner strike. A rapid change of formation however saw Smudger – the unquestionable man of the match – set up Rippers with the easiest of tap-ins and the Knapp latched on to a loose ball in the D to level on the stroke of half time.

London Uni could have scored in the first minute of the second period but Bruce cleared off the line and after that we upped the ball speed, used Smudger to emphatic purpose and he set up three goals from Gavin and one for Eds C and was instrumental in the play leading to ECs second and the short corner converted by Rippers. Arguably we could have scored more but the LU keeper made a number of fine saves and towards the end we made the wrong choice in front of goal. Good to have Gavin back scoring his goals and matching his pre Christmas strike rate of a 25% goal to chances ratio – sorry, 20%.

An added bonus came our way late on Saturday afternoon with the news that Bank and Wanderers drew which means that for the first time since November getting promotion is once again back in our hands. Next week’s game now takes on monumental importance. David Knapp

3rd XI 1-3 Addiscombe
We went down 3-1 in a hard fought game that could easily have gone the other way. Electing to play into the sun in the first half, Addiscombe pushed back to start the game off. Some early good passing led to some build up play, it took 10 minutes for either team to settle. It was Addiscombe that looked more threatening in the first ten with a deflection off Kelson's pads glancing the ball left of the goal keeping the scores level. We started to move the ball fluidly and as the game unravelled, Neil and Preston started to pick apart the Addiscombe defence with some clever skills. We started to pin the game in their half and it looked only a matter of time before we were to score. Preston actually got the ball into the goal … well, half of it, as it split in half as he hit it leaving the keeper bewildered, but it was disallowed. The keeper then pulled off two very good saves.

However, against the run of play, Addiscombe broke free and in a muddled clearance that was not effectively dealt with an Addiscombe player picked the ball of a deflection from the keeper with a lot of time and space, took the lead. The game continued with us pressing home against a technically weaker team however even with the ball going across the face of the goal on no less than four occasions and some good keeping, we couldn't take advantage. Short corners occurred however we just couldn't capitalise on our pressing advantage.

Half time came and a focus on a hard 10 minutes was nulled by a defensive communication break down and Addiscombe capitalising and putting a second in within a minute of the restart. With great credit, the team kept fighting for the game and a tireless effort by Chris and Andy in the centre and Chaz up the left kept attacks flowing. Although we once again were pressing the Addiscombe half, there were more breaks against us occurring with CD and Adam cleaning up as effectively as possible. Chaz's attacks combined with Preston and Neil leading the attack finally came to fruition and Neil scored to bring the game back into reach.

The game became tighter as Addiscombe defended in numbers and breaching this was becoming more challenging. A moment of 'surging' attack came from skipper Armitage who was unceremoniously taken out putting him on the floor but the nail in the coffin came where Addiscombe sent the ball into the D and a deft deflection past the keeper and two defenders took the game out of reach.

Although we fought on, with five minutes left and a tight Addiscombe defence to breach, the game concluded with a loss that could easily have gone another way. Four games remain, three teams are fighting to avoid relegation with two of those still to play, all to play for, nothing to lose! Man of the match, Chaz and some serious thinking to be had over the week. James Armitage

4th XI 2-2 Old Reigatians
A draw left us without a win since Christmas, but it could have been much worse but for a scrambled equaliser – deserved after ten minutes of incessant pressure – three minutes from time. We will play far worse and win, but although we controlled a good-spirited game and dominated the midfield, we were behind after 64 seconds when our defence was caught cold, equalised, only to go behind against 12 minutes from the end with a well-placed flick off a short corner.

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Saturday, 9 February 2008

Match reports - February 9, 2008

The 1st XI kick-started their promotion chase with a battling 1-0 win at Merton, a result which lifts us into third place, four points off the lead and one behind second-placed UCL. The Ladies scored all four of their goals in seven first-half minutes to beat Purley but there were defeats for the 2nd XI, 3rd XI and 4th XIs.

Merton 0-1 1st XI
This was an important indeed vital win against one of the five teams vying for the two promotion places. Both sides realised that losing the game would signal the end of any promotion hopes barring a series of odd results. Our fate may well be in the hands of goal difference even if we win all the remaining games to play and currently we are well behind those ahead of us.

The first match against Merton proved to be a scintillating game of hockey and the first half followed suit on a warm winter’s day with Merton having the chance to wrap the game up in the first eight minutes forcing three short corners following some serious defensive aberrations. However our defence held firm and although having a large percentage of the play the home side were unable to create any real chances and leaving us space up front we created the best of the chances in the first period. Cookiey got the deftest of touches to a Bruce Davies crashed ball to put us one up and Knapp should have doubled the lead when going round the goalkeeper but firing wide of an empty goal. Fortunately the miss did not cost any points. Robbo was called upon to make an outstanding save at the top of the D to keep our lead and was on hand to repel a Merton corner routine that was not firing on all cylinders. Bruce coolly took one off the line. The half came to a close with the game being played from end to end and with some quality hockey being played.

Tiredness set in for both sides as the second period progressed with less chances being created even though the pendulum swung as the game switched from end to end. Merton forced more short corners but were unable to convert any of the chances on offer whilst at the other end we had the opportunity to kill the game off when a Cook cross flashed across the goal. Merton will be frustrated at not creating any real open play chances having as they did the majority of the possession in the final 35 minutes, their slick and pacey passing coming to nothing as the final pass was lacking. Indeed, the game followed the pattern of the last three meetings when we have played half court more by necessity rather than design.

Next week we face our nemesis London University with our having the same number of points – 13 – from the first five games of this half of the season as we did after five before Christmas. The next three games produced zero points whilst on this occasion nine is the minimum we need to keep us on the leading teams' heels. David Knapp

2nd XI 1-5 Reigate Priory
Another frustrating week for the 2nds, another performance that was largely good but after which we ended up on the receiving end of a sound defeat. For the first 15 minutes we outplayed a strong Reigate side only to go one down from a stroke which neither umpire was in a position to give but which was awarded after Rob Merry asked for it! Salt was rubbed in the wound when a minute later a speculative cross was slotted home from close distance. We had a gilt-edged chance which Bruce spurned before Doug cracked home a well-taken strike. Trailing 1-2 at the break, we conceded a third 13 minutes from time, but when Reigate were reduced to ten men we had a glimmer; a minute later Tissy got himself yellow carded for a finger gesture and our heads dropped. Two goals in the final five minutes gave the scoreline a distorted look. Reigate were superb on the counterattack, and but for some outstanding tackles from Jon Heard we might well have shipped even more.

Ladies XI 4-0 Purley
A beautiful winter’s afternoon saw the arrival of Purley to the mighty TD. Having already beaten them in the away leg, we knew they would be coming out strongly and so knew we couldn’t sit back. We started the game well, our defence of Katy, Ros, Mez, Tux and international jetsetter Rosie were all working very well, picking up their players, extinguishing any attacks and then distributing the ball to the midfield of Captain Jax, Vikki, Nikki and Dora. The forwards of Nina, Caz and May were running their socks off causing the Purley defence plenty of problems and we were pressing hard for the opening goal. A through ball saw Vikki pick up the ball in the D and reverse tap it past their keeper, 1-0 (Vikki is too modest to add a description of her Alan Sheareresque celebration). We then played our best hockey of the match, Nikki was making some excellent runs, passing the ball to the forwards who were creating some great chances. A ball saw Dora pick it up in the D and drive it home for her first and our second. Dora’s second goal, two minutes later, was superb, picking up the ball near to the top of the D, she undercut it in to the top right-hand corner, giving their keeper no chance. We had settled in to a rhythm and were even passing the ball pack to Ros to create new options through different channels (we do listen in training honest Coach!) and a goal straight from the training ground saw the ball go from defence to attack in four quick passes, May running on to an excellent cross and coolly slotting the ball home left hand corner to give us a commanding lead and our fourth goal in seven minutes. We continued to press and Nina, Caz and May were chasing the ball down and forcing the oppo in to unforced errors. The midfield were distributing the ball well and the defence were keeping the oppo at bay. The half time whistle went and we were all very grateful for our orange quarter (a great tradition!) and water. Knowing Purley would be coming out hard in the second half, we were focused in raising our game and increasing our goal difference, unfortunately, this didn’t quite happen and we didn’t have our best attacking 35 minutes. Our defence held very firm, determined to keep a clean sheet and were all making excellent tackles with Katy making some excellent saves. Rosie, having backpacked around New Zealand for two weeks with nothing so much as a scratch, came off injured after her hand was caught between the ball and stick. We battled hard in searching for another goal but nothing was coming, (Dora the things you’ll do to avoid buying a hat-trick jug!!) and when the final whistle went, we knew we had done enough, and went inside for teas. It was only then we learned of Ros’s hidden talents as a campanologist – we sat and listened about the dynamics of the church bell, the order you ring in and that you have a Tower Captain!! A great result, lets keep the momentum going for the visit of Tulse Hill in two weeks time who we know will be tough. Vikki Mottram

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Saturday, 2 February 2008

Match reports - February 2, 2008

The 1st XI's top-of-the-table clash with UCL Academicals ended in a fairly turgid 0-0 stalemate with neither side creating many meaningful chances, but the 3rd XI eased relegation worries with their second win of the season over leaders Old Reigatiansm and the Ladies defeated Old Georgians 2-1. The 2nd XI went down 1-3 to UCL while the 4th XI lost to Reigate Priory 5-1.

UCL 0-0 1st XI
Click here for match photos. When we played UCL earlier in the season a tight 1-0 win took us top. For the return fixture it was UCL who came into the game as leaders while we were clinging on to promotion in fourth. Neither side had been in good form of late and that was evident in what turned out to be a dull encounter devoid of more than a handful of chances.

The first half was littered with mistakes from both sides and almost no scoring chances, the one on-target strike from a UCL short-corner well cleared off the line by Bruce. The bumpy pitch, worsened by underlying frost, hardly helped, but there were more chances after the break. Our short-corner routines were not at their best, but neither were UCL’s. In the last ten minutes UCL came the closest to breaking the deadlock when they hit the post and forced two good saves, but we finished the stronger after they were forced to play the final six minutes with ten men.

The result did neither side any favours. UCL slipped to second while we dropped to fifth, although only four points separates first and fifth.

UCL 3-1 2nd XI
Bottom side UCL dumped us back into relegation trouble with a 3-1 defeat. The game was all but settled after we fell behind to two soft goals inside 20 minutes, and we should have been three down but for a premature whistle from our umpire seconds before the ball was slotted home. We gradually started creating chances, inspired by Neil Grimes, and Bruce came within an inch of pulling one back. However, a third goal ten minutes from time appeared to have settled matters but it actually galvanised us into our best hockey of the game. Bruce scored with a well-struck goal seven minutes from the end and then seconds later Tissy could have had a second but his shot squeezed just wide.

3rd XI 1-0 Old Reigatians
Click here for match photos, The 3rd XI took another three points off top the league Old Reigatians with an exceptionally well played 1-0 victory. At home, where we were yet to take any points this season, and drafting in Grant Archer from the 4th XI to hold the left line, we were feeling optimistic with a strong win last week and an almost win against Wanders two weeks ago. The game started with us playing into the low sun. We started moving the ball well and passing effectively as a team. ORs moved the ball well themselves and effective attacks came into the game. The defensive presence of Stu which had been missed in recent games proved invaluable with some key tackles keeping the game flowing. ORs got a few shots off but Kelson proved his worth and with Grant and Adam keeping the flanks in check, threatening attacks became less frequent. As we became more accustomed to our own pitch, a clean strike from a free hit took a fine defection from Rich L to take us into the lead.

The game opened up and strong attacks up our left flank from Chaz and Dave and up the right from Tim J proving that the league table proves nothing this season. Chris and Preston held the central midfield and with effective communication of marking and play from Stu and Armo, ORs attacks didn't come to fruition.

Half time came with arguably the best half of play that we had had this season. With the second half in play, Chaz and Tim J made themselves exceptionally unhelpful to the OR midfield and this continued through the game as OR failed to take dominance of the game. Chris and Preston moved the ball effectively and tackled and marked the OR midfield out of most attacks. Some exceptional tackling from the defence at short corners especially Adam and Stu and a great save from Kelson kept us in the lead.

As the final 10 minutes played out, ORs brought 11 outfield players on, sacrificing their keeper. With a pressed defence, the midfield excelled themselves with excellent play and tackles. Short corners came and we actually had a break with Dave L taking the ball to the far right corner wasting their time, genius play.

The game closed out with a mastered defence by Stu and also a hard working midfield, especially Chris B, which both were to share the MOM although any other day, either would have walked the title. Great play from Chaz as well and Rich's goal now opens up the goal of the season competition.

4th XI 1-5 Reigate Priory
It was a day for us to play league leaders, and Reigate came to TD stung by our 1-0 win earlier in the season. For the first 20 minutes we were the better side and pressed Reigate back without really threatening, but you don’t top the league without taking chances and Reigate took the lead when we failed to clear a short corner. In the second half we went two down through a controversial short corner which was heading well above the backboard before being deflected down by a defender, and then shipped a very sloppy third. Chris Bents pulled one back when his cross was turned in by a defender, but we leaked two more goals in the final minutes to give the scoreline a rather unflattering feel.

Old Georgians 1-2 Ladies XI

Unbeaten since before Christmas, we travelled to OG’s wanting no less than a win. With the history between OG’s and us, them having our old GK and vice versa, both teams are usually out to put as many goals passed the keepers as possible! We were without several of our defenders as they were off jet setting around the world with simply not enough commitment to the club! Tux’s commitment however was evident as she turned up looking as hard as nails, sporting a big bruise on her chin, apparently from a drunken fall – she claimed the pavement had come out of it far worse! Nina’s commitment was also apparent as she volunteered (with much persuasion and bribery), to move from right wing to playing left back for the match!

We were ready for a hard start from OG’s, but we went out hard too, Rossie as ever sweeping, taking no prisoners. Our hard work on our fitness this season had been evident throughout the season, but was really put to the test on Saturday by a young, fit and quick OG side with lots of movement both on and off the ball. Before long, Katy in goal and Nina doing a fantastic job as left back had to make excellent, hard but fair clearance on one of the OG forwards in our circle. The forward went down so hard it took the breath out of everyone watching, but she bravely got up and carried on. We too got in a couple of early attempts however OG’s managed to score an early goal to go one up. It was early on so we were by no means fazed. We picked ourselves up and pushed on with some great runs by our forwards of Caz, May and Dora and before long we had scored a goal back an excellent cross into the circle from midfielder Nikki with Dora getting the last touch into the goal. We went into half time 1-1.

The second half got off to a flying start as within 10 seconds the midfield of Sarah H, Jax and Nikki made some swift passes into the circle for Dora to hammer home her second goal of the day. From this point on we stayed in control with the Tux and Mez distributing the ball well from the back and the defence in general doing a great job of marking their players out of the game. We conceded a couple of penalty corners that had us holding our breath at the end of the second half but OG’s failed to convert. The match finished 2-1 making it five matches now unbeaten! Well done ladies a great team effort! Lets keep it going! Jax Joyce

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Sunday, 27 January 2008

Match reports - January 26, 2008

The 3rd XI enjoyed a rare winning outing with a 3-2 win at Camberley to lift themselves out of the relegation slots for the first time this season; the Ladies also battled to a gutsy 1-1 draw with second-placed Spencer; the 1st XI just about did enough to beat lowly Surrey OBs 2-1, the Veterans dragged themselves off the bottom with a 31- win over leaders St Albans; but there were defeats for the 2nd XI and the 4th XI.

Surrey OBs 1-2 1st XI
Well, we were poor and very lucky to come away with three points against a spirited but limited SOBS side and had the rub of all the umpiring decisions – a half season’s fortune in one go. As it is we are still very much in top with February our decisive month. A state of flux existed at 8.20 on Friday evening with the sudden unavailability of Bruce due to injury but luckily Adam Davies was available and at 16 was playing his first game of men’s hockey being home for an exeat weekend and slotted strait into Bruce’s position. Adam then proceeded to be man of the match and is a player that we should see playing at least at the highest club level.

The first 20 minutes did not give any indication of what was to come and with us playing the ball around and wide a number of chances were created and squandered with our short corner drill being woeful. The final 15 minutes of the half heralded the rot with too many long balls shooting off the edge and end of the pitch. Nevertheless the half time team chat sorted things out and five minutes into the second period good build up play followed by a defence splitting pass from the streamlined Cook enabled Knapp to roll the ball home. The lead should have been doubled by Knapp who proceeded to dumfound Preston by winning the 69 shirt for the rest of the season with a crass effort at goal. Chances came and went with Robbo a spectator which continued as we all watched the SOBS best player run unchallenged into our D and push the ball speculatively towards the goal for Robbo to be outwitted by Ed B and the scores were even. Eds C restored the lead with a short corner strike and we held out for an important but less than decisive win.
UCL are next up and play like we did for most of the game today and it will be goodnight nurse. Thank you Adam for playing and showing us how easy hockey can be when playing the simple and commercial options. David Knapp

2nd XI 2-3 Barnes
A cracking game which we lost but again showed the fighting spirit which has seen us turn in some good performances of late. We went two down ten minutes into the second half and that seemed to be that against a physically big and good Barnes side, and although we pulled one back, Barnes restored their two-goal lead with 15 remaining. Then the fun started, Chris Tiss, who had got under the opposition’s skin with his skills and mouth all day, scrambled a second – earning a green card for his yell of “Eat that” into the defender’s face – and we pressed hard and had we had a short-corner routine which involved being able to stop the ball might have grabbed a draw. Neil Grimes was immense in midfield and again Dodie and Heardy controlled the back like the old pros they are. The cry-off of the week comes from Chris Porter in an apology given to Tiss who was waiting to collect him from the station. Porter, if he is to be believed, had been up all night "with a lady" and was in no position to leave his flat because of exhaustion.

Camberley 2-3 3rd XI
The 3rd XI delivered a rock star performance taking a full three points away at Camberly with a hard fought 3-2 win. An early 10am start, damned cold and Tim Cook, our designated umpire, had forgotten his cards … it did not bode well. Starting with the low sun behind us, we moved the ball effectively albeit, slowly on occasions. Movement up our preferred left attacking flank was effective and a returning Chopper made a nuisance of himself for the Camberley defence. Strong marking at break downs and a good control of the game led to a short corner which deftly taken by Bruce, beating the advancing defenders, shelled home an excellent goal. The game continued with a more confident team and Rich L attacking up the right flank provided Bruce in the centre a range of options with his control of the centre of the field. An attack followed through and a strike into the D led to Dave L perfectly angling the ball in a cramped D past their keeper. This was also the first time that we had gone two goals ahead all season. Camberley started to find their rhythm and on an attack, some poor tackling led to a lapse in attention and from a dead ball, they scored.

Half time came and a usual inspiration of a team talk followed. A slight line-up change of Rich L going up front as proving successful last week started the second half by pushing up higher. The tactical problem we had was that their attack was also pushing high creating a gulf in the centre of the field. Both sides attacked and counter attacked. Tim had to have a chat with the captains although slightly more directed at the opposition as we are all good chaps! The short resulted from one attack and a slip from Bruce to Preston, flicking it past the keeper it still required Chopper to glance it into the goal to take it to 3-1.

Camberley came back with several attacks and from a short corner, we became overloaded and Camberley had an open attack and scored. With five minutes remaining, Camberley loaded the pressure however what many have described as the heroic moment of the season and others as the moment they were standing amongst giants, a fighting defence became exposed and with the keeper caught in no mans land, a ball slipped past without question on its way to the back board, Armo slid past the Camberley striker and cleared the ball off the line to keep the team in with a shout (Guess who write this report …). In what remained of the two minutes, Camberley narrowly missed an equalising opportunity but the force was with us for arguably the first time in two years. Man of the match, Armo (not bad that, nominating yourself!) but a team effort, three points and a safety out of recession. James “Modesty” Armitage

Ladies 1-1 Spencer II
An early start after a week off saw us playing second-placed Spencer II at home. We had been one of the only teams to take points off them this season, holding them to a draw before Christmas, and inevitably both teams wanted to take the full points this time around, us to move up the table and them to sustain their position at the top. It was always going to be an eventful match.

Both sides started well, us against the sun after having lost the toss. The first 15 minutes saw good attempts coming from both ends a couple of penalty corners each and on 20 minutes Spencer manager to lift one into the net over keeper Katy who had just made a terrific save on the floor. We continued to pile the pressure onto the Spencer defence our forwards of Caz, and May doing an excellent job of closing down their defenders and driving the ball up and into the Spencer area but to no avail and we went into half time 1-0 down.

The second half was far more eventful. Our oranges at half time especially prepared by coach Mott obviously gave us the extra boost we needed. Going out hard, the midfield of Vikki, Nina, Jax and Sarah H were working harder than ever with some good movement, one touches and passing around and up to the forwards. We had several close calls, a ball chipped over the cross bar, Jax and Caz managing to get on the end of excellent crosses into the Spencer circle by May (Carl Lewis) Evans and Nina (Mike Tyson) Sutton, but just cleared wide of the goal by the Spencer keeper. Eventually our hard work, determination and perseverance paid off as an intercepted ball was passed into Vikki (silky skills) Mottram who moved the ball around her Spencer defender and 'melted' the ball into the goal. 1-1. We kept the pressure on and just shortly after our levelling goal, Caz (Wayne Rooney) Hall found herself racing the Spencer keeper towards a loose ball on the edge of the circle. The two collided and ended up in a skirmish before the keeper booted the ball away - but from outside of the D. She was yellow carded and sent off while the match was put on hold as another Spencer player kitted up. We were determined to capitalise on Spencer having one less player on the pitch and a sub keeper in goal but in true OC fashion we probably played better when they had 11 players on the pitch! We tried not to let the break in play interrupt our flow but inevitably it did. We conceded several short corners which our rock solid defence of Rossie P, Mez, Tux and Muriel as ever defended well and Katy in goal was called upon to make a couple of saves. Tempers had been rising through out the match and eventually a Spencer player snapped and Nina found herself on the end of the girl’s fist! Neither umpire saw the punch and play continued until it was time for the Spencer keeper to come back on again so with six minutes left to go, play stopped again while she kitted up. The game finished 1-1 all a great game by our ladies and we were unfortunate not to get another goal. Jax Joyce

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Sunday, 20 January 2008

Match reports - January 19, 2008

The 1st XI overcame a limited Addiscombe side 6-3 to maintain their outside chances of promotion, but the performance of the day came from the 2nd XI who finally clicked as we knew they would and beat league leaders Woking 4-1 away from home. The 3rd XI secured a good 3-3 draw at the delight that is Kennington, the 4th XI played well in losing 1-2 to Staines, and the Vets secured only their third win of the season with a 1-0 victory at HAC.

1st XI 6-3 Addiscombe
This was a potential banana skin against an Addiscombe team who have had a good season up to this point. The game saw Cooky play by far and away the best he has played all season and it was his intervention in the second minute that won a long corner that became a short and then a goal with Rippers coolly slotting home the loose bal. Nick Lewis doubled the lead with the shot of the season, Cook again making a nuisance of himself in front of the keeper , the ball breaking to Nick at the top of the D who put the ball into the top corner with a blistering shot. The remainder of the half saw us dominate without creating any chances and we lost our shape when Ed Breton went of with a knock on his hand.

Addiscombe were back in the game in the early stages of the second half but straight away we regained the two-goal cushion. Sven increased the margin with a drag flicked short, the first of two with, in between times, Addiscombe scoring a soft short corner. Rippers scored his second after a great move down the right and there was just time for the opposition to score a consolation with another short corner in stoppage time.

The two big pluses were the performances of Nick Lewis and Cooky with the downside the concession of three soft goals. Unquestionably we had the rub of the umpiring especially early on and we made it count. Surry Old Boys next week and then UCL and Merton after which we will know whether we have a long wait until September or have a chance to be in the mix. Rex Bermon

Woking 1-4 2nd XI
On paper this game was a formality. We had taken on point away from home all season whereas Woking, the league leaders, were unbeaten at home and had not lost anywhere since early October. On a pitch which made our old one look slick and sandless, the early exchanges were tight and the pace quick. But whereas we made inroads, Woking’s attacks foundered against the rocks of Dodie Khurshid and Jon Heard. We took the lead on 15 minutes from a short corner, fiercely disputed by the defence who claimed to their own umpire that they were not ready. Neither side created many openings in the reminder of the half, but Woking’s concern was evident from the length of their half-time chat. “We’re top, they’re crap but that doesn’t matter if we carry on playing like this,” were the last words shouted to them at the break.

The second half was equally pacey but the better attacks came from us with a hole in Woking’s midfield being repeatedly ripped open. We had some nervous moments and Woking were enjoying their best period when we broke and struck the second. We could have extended the lead but Bruce hit the post and then a short corner was cleared off the line; at the other end Nigel made some good saves and the defence remained solid. Five minutes from time we again broke and made it 3-0, only for Woking to run right through a dozing midfield and pull one back within 20 seconds. The ball was in our half for the next few minutes as Woking threw the kitchen sink at us, but from another break we sealed a convincing win with the last strike of the match.

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

Match reports - January 12, 2008

The second half of the season started with a good 3-2 win for the 1st XI at Walton, while the Ladies hammered bottom side Barnes 5-0. The 2nd XI enjoyed a hard 0-0 draw with Walton, while the 4th XI also drew, 2-2 at Reigate. But struggling sides the 3rd XI and Veterans both lost.

Walton & Weybridge 2 1st XI 3 The month of January is always an important month as teams can fall away or come up on the rails following a month of inactivity. For us the next six games will see if we have the character to force us back into contention. The current leaders UCL slipped up again before the break and with Wanderers and Bank of Boks to come early this half their season could similarly be decided. At the beginning of the season they caught both sides cold but one has the feeling that the previous results could be overturned.

On a fast and excellent pitch Walton and Weybridge were going to be a difficult side to beat having had a good first 11 games picking up dramatically from last season’s travails. The first few minutes saw us caught cold giving away an unnecessary short corner with W & W’S slick routine punishing us most emphatically to put us one down. We thought we were level five minutes later when Knapp swept home a quick free hit but Eds was deemed to have passed the ball with his foot – in our view it must have been a wooden and size 28 foot. Nevertheless by half time the lead had been gained, Paul marking his league debut with a tap in after Bruce’s reverse stick pass across the goal took the whole defence by surprise and Cookie using the space that was created ahead of him and using his pace to outstrip the defence and hitting a sublime shot into the top right hand corner – one of the best individual and team goals of the season. The move had started at the right back position and with three passes round the back and a sharp pass up field to find Cookiey we took the ball from one end to the other in a minute or so.

Having taken the lead we inexplicably tried to play a completely different game and lost our way somewhat having put together some wonderful hockey in a 15-minute spell in which we scored our two goals – something to take home and put right for next week.

The beginning of the second half saw us play another five minutes of good stuff but W & W were not going to lie down and came back at us strongly but against the run of play very unselfishly Cookiey set up Knapp by taking out the goalkeeper and slipping the ball across the goal for Knapp to have the easy task of popping the ball home.

Instead of wrapping the game up we missed a number of chances and allowed the oppo back in when a beautifully worked short enable the gap to return to one goal with seven minutes remaining. W & W certainly showed the benefit of having a well drilled short corner routine. The last few minutes were Walton’s as far as the first four were concerned with Nigel Smith making one good save and one top drawer save that enabled us to run out winners following a needless yellow card for chat that reduced Walton to 10 and took the steam out of their challenge.

Once again we had two umpires, Peter and the experienced converted player Ian Jolly umpiring us for the first time who worked well together and umpired very consistently. Another tight but must win game next week against Addiscombe to ensure we stay in the top section of the league.

Barnes 0 Ladies 5 Our first match back after Christmas was expected to be a struggle and we did take our time to find our stride. The pitch was half frozen and hard but playable. Our first goal came about halfway through the first half - a bit of a scramble in the circle and Vikki finished it nicely to put us 1-0 up. Katy, after one-hour’s sleep, was not having to do much at all in goal up the other end and Tux the centreback/forward was having a stormer with some great creative play bringing the ball forward and distributing it around. Muriel and Rosie as ever solid as a rock for us at the back. Nothing was really on for Barnes an before long Nikki had a scored a second goal after a taking the ball around the Barnes keeper and hammering it home. Supersub George came on up front and within minutes had an aerial shot on goal rebound off the cross bar! Her usual position being defence she was so busy admiring her shot we failed to capitalise on the rebound!! But a few minutes later George did manage to score her debut goal for OCs and all was forgiven! At half time the score was 3-0.

We came out hard in the second half determined to rack up some more goals. The forwards of Mez, Caz and Nina were doing their usual job of closing down the Barnes defence and creating scoring chances. The midfield of Sarah Hardiman, Nikki and Jax were again working hard and putting Barnes under pressure. We did concede several penalty corners which Rossie P and her defence defended solidly. Another goal came shortly from some great team play a cross into the D and Vikki fired her second goal past the Barnes GK who had no chance. It was all over for Barnes but we kept pushing winning a final penalty corner. Sarah Hardiman had the final hit of the game to smash the ball just over the Barnes keeper who had gone straight down on the floor, to convert our penalty corner into a fifth goal. The final whistle followed immediately and the OC ladies had started the second half of the season as we mean to go on! A good solid win. Well done ladies! Jackie Joyce

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Monday, 7 January 2008

A most agreeable warm-up

1st XI 2 Mid Sussex 2 A very useful and enjoyable warm up match against a friendly and competitive Mid Sussex side. No question that we would like to make this an annual fixture and perhaps on a home and away basis in September and January in each year. We sincerely hope that the MS young defender who received a very nasty injury to his finger makes a quick recovery.

We welcomed Paul Arcott into the team for the first time with Rob Merry also stepping in due to the vagaries of availability and could have won by a few but for some profligate finishing and James Myers in the MS game who was outstanding and showed to us all that he has not lost his edge over the period since he played a handful of games for us. Indeed, Robbo had little to do but in the end made one excellent save to prevent us from losing 3 – 2. Knapp and Rippers scored our goal, the former a tap in following a deft pass from Rippers and the latter a superlative solo goal – the best we are likely to see all year. Paul will be an asset for us in a wide midfield role the having played for Epsom in recent years with his reading the game very well and making the right passes and runs even if they are not always recognised by those around him.

The game highlighted what it needed to highlight with our attacking in too narrow a fashion in the first period and not making passes early enough when coming out of the back. We spread the ball wide via Rippers but failed to use Cato in a similar fashion that would have caused the oppo serious problems. Had we won by a few our problems would have been masked and so the match achieved what it was meant to other than the loss of Gavin Adair to a twisted ankle.

Thank you to for the umpires who at the cost of 2 Mars bars umpired the game straight after they had umpired UCL v Guildford and umpired extremely well. League action this coming weekend against Walton and Weybridge and so we must look to put into practice the lessons learnt in the game against Mid Sussex.

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Friday, 21 December 2007

Match reports - December 15, 2007

2nd XI 1 Old Kingstonians 6 This match was rearranged following the earlier postponement due to frost one early Saturday morning a few weeks ago. Our thanks to Old Kingstonians who agreed to play at 4pm – the only slot available. With the table in our league very congested in the middle this gave us a real chance to jump to just below the top half of the table and then a couple of wins from the top 2 or 3.

The start was frenetic, with us trying to string together ambitious moves when in hindsight we should probably have stuck to basics. We defended well to keep out some good opposition attacks, and begun to settle in attack. However we were then struck by the all too familiar soft goal and momentum swung back to the opposition.

Our failure to close down the man with the ball and another couple of soft goals left us with a deficit of 4 at halftime. The second half begun brightly but as the pitch begun to get fairly icy we managed to concede one more. We did manage to get one consolation goal in a well worked move, which supplemented the numerous passages of play that we did demonstrate what we were capable of.

Unfortunately as it became increasingly cold things heated up on the pitch. A mixture of a few poor tackles by the opposition, a few missed decisions and most of all frustration in the way we were playing began to lead to questioning of decisions. This eventually led to the skipper being yellow carded for his failure to control his team and another left seconds later for chat.

In truth this had little impact on the game as there were only about three minutes left. It was however a very disappointing end to a game that had actually been played in a good spirit by and large. We need to understand that umpires are human and that they do make mistakes and that they selflessly give up their Saturdays for our enjoyment!

We now have a decent squad and have showed in patches what we are capable of. Hopefully 2008 will start on a brighter note. Rob Merry

Guildford Ladies 0 Ladies XI 1 Our last match this side of Christmas saw us at Guildford playing their ladies 2s. We started well piling on the pressure and moving the ball about well. It was not long into the first half before they were getting rattled. Our forwards of Mez (who had an awesome game despite playing slightly out of position!), Dora and Vikki were working hard getting straight onto their hit outs and doing well at intercepting the ball and pressurising Guildford defenders. Throughtout the first half there were a few dummies thrown out of the pram as Guilford began to get frustrated. We continued to keep our cool and play our own game winning us a penalty corner which unfortunately we failed to do anything productive with. Guildford were a fast team and moved the ball quickly up the pitch almost catching us on the break and before long had won themselves a couple of penalty corners and numerous free hits just outside the D. Our defence of Ros, Rosie Tux and Muriel held strong with Katy in goal and no goals were conceded. The half time score was 0-0
Second half we went out hard and had some great play moving the ball from the back through the midfield of Nikki, Sarah Hardiman and Jax up to our forwards. There was some great skill from Vikki and some lovely one touches from Dora. Eventually a breakthrough came with a ball that again started from the back was worked superbly through the midfield to the forwards leaving it to Vikki to complete a beautiful finish and put us 1-0 ahead. From this point on there was no way we were letting Guildford back into the game especially with the attitude of their 12th player – their coach, on the side of the pitch sledging our team and baiting the umpire. Thankfully we had our own 12th player in the form of Baz!! Baz gave us so much support (but in a sportsman like way) in the second half and kept us all going – we had no subs so were running our OC socks off! We kept our cool, defended several more penalty corners but Katy held strong for us in goal and we fininshed the match 1-0. An excellent end to the first half of the season and bring on Jan – not too much Christmas pudding ladies! Jax Joyce

3rd XI 1 Reigate Priory 3 We were beaten 1-3 by a somewhat dubious Reigate Priory team that at a conservative count had three members of higher teams. Playing on a cold December morning after being warmed up by some of Andy Eve's sloe gin, the team stepped forward to face bottom of the table Reigate Priory who had failed to win on the pitch all season. Feeling a little optimistic following last week’s success, the game started with some strong play and good team passing. Within the first 10 minutes the game went our way with a hard drilled ball into the box with Bruce diverting the ball into the roof of the net. As the game developed RP found their feet and strong attacks evolved that were admirably handed by Stu and Jock at their centre defence roles. Chris with Armo held the centre however the stronger abilities of their aforementioned players started to show and Nigel Hawes kept exceptionally well with two fine saves. A slight restructure with Dave L joining Neil upfront and Bruce taking the right midfield solidified the left flank with Adam and Rich doing well together.

Half time came with an obvious call that unless better structure could be found, we were going to concede. The second half started with some good attacks however we started to feel more pressured with the left flank being exposed to strong attacks and Stu been given a run for his money on more than one occasion. RP got their first goal from a short corner from a rising ball over Nigel which was a 50-50 on below the back board but probably a deserved goal. Shortly later, their 26 took the ball, beat three defenders and reversed struck the ball into the middle-right of the net (hardly a weekly occurrence in 3rd XI games!). The morale of the team dropped at this for five minutes and we conceded from a weak clearance with an excellent under cut from the back of the D by theirNo. 91 who thankfully had finally stopped whinging at every decision made or every time he was tackled.

We did pick up with an excellent piece of defending keeping Armo out after a lovely slip past a flat RP defence however the game concluded on this score. MOM, Nigel Hawes. A worthy scoreline considering the players on the pitch, but it is doubtful we will several of our opposition for the return. James Armitage

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