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Saturday, 13 March 2010

Match report March 13 2010

The 1st XI maintained their title push and gained promotion with a rousing 6-1 win over Southampton II. The Ladies cruised to a 2-0 win at Reigate, a result which does not reflect the one-sided nature of the game, and the 2nd XI gained a much-needed 2-1 win at Barnes. The 3rd XI fought out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Sanderstead, but the 4th XI went down 1-2 to second-place Sunbury. The Vets beat Tunbridge Wells 5-0.

1st XI 6-1 Southampton II
Another emphatic win that, with Southampton 1st XI losing, guaranteed promotion and left us four points from winning the league with three games to go.

Welcome Norman, our fifth keeper of the season, only three left in the club who have not played - could just squeeze them all in.

The early exchanges saw us forcing the play and off our game but from midway in the first half until midway into the second we played some sublime hockey during which we scored six. Hunts opened the scoring from a short corner and Rory tapped home the second following an excellent strong run from Gavin down the left that set up the goal. Our purple patch came early in the second half with four well-worked goals from Cookiey, Gavin, CV and Knapp that put the game to bed. Even when Rory recedived a yellow we did not lose our way.

For the last 20 minutes we pressed forward but did not play quite the same clinical hockey we had been playing but still created enough chances to have had double figures. The Southampton keeper made a number of saves but some of will look back at the chances we had and will say that we should have done better. Souhampton scored a consolation at the death following some very good interchange of passes themselves. The 2s also won the crucial points as did the ladies so a good day all round at the top of the club.

Woking away next week who gave us a hard game last time round so nothing for granted until we have won the league. David Knapp

Reigate 0-2 Ladies

Barnes 1-2 2nd XI
In the battle to keep relegation at bay all our games have become ‘must wins’. Able to raise a strong team we fancied our chances and despite them scoring in the first five minutes (a good drag flick from their first short corner) we retained that confidence. This was built from a solid performance at the back where we were equal to everything that was thrown at us. Meanwhile Nick Lewis, Eds Copleston (on his return from mumps), and particularly Chris Porter looked dangerous on the break – injecting pace and linking well with everyone else. Andy Selby marked their play marker out of the game and proved an effective link. Up front Andy Farquhar and Nick Phillips were effective holding up the ball and we created a number of chances.

By half time we had drawn equal and looked comfortable, but we knew the next goal would be crucial. The second half we looked even more dominant and took advantage of one of their key men being sin-binned for raising his stick above his shoulder by taking the lead. We were denied taking a further lead by some excellent goal keeping and a great save on the line after we had lobbed their keeper. An uncharacteristic moment of panic in the dying moment lead to a short corner at the death but we held firm – Tom Merry managing to get to the striker before he had a chance to shoot and JP Davidson, who had an excellent game, shelled the ball of the pitch.

It was clear from our reaction how much this game meant to us. We are still not out of the woods – we are low on numbers next week but if we play with anything like the heart and indeed the skill we will once again stand a good chance of putting more space between us and the foot of the table. Our congratulations to the 1s on their promotion - a fine achievement, especially given their promotion last year too. Rob Merry

3rd XI 3-3 Sanderstead
A very entertaining match where a draw was a fair result, and where we had to come from behind twice and survive the yellow carding of our keeper. We exchanged goals in the first half as both sides switched the ball around skilfully, but on the stroke of half time Nigel Hawes mistimed (or quite possibly knowing Nigel, timed) his slide and wiped out the Sanderstead forward. His grin said it all, but the yellow card was a minor punishment compared to what awaited him when he got home. The flick was converted, Jock was held responsible for not saving it, and we went into the break a goal down. Jock bizarrely explained he was less mobile as he had kneed himself in the face chasing a sheep the day before. No, we don’t know either.

We survived the five minutes until Nigel returned (and the ten minutes it took the Laurel and Hardy duo of Hawes and Vickers to exchange the kit) and then drew level when James Armitage, 30 tomorrow, rifled home a short corner. A moment to reflect on Armitage who alternated between the excellent and the excruciating. His goal was crisp, and there were the usual powerful runs and important tackles. There were also some dreadful passes – he got an assist for Sanderstead’s third when he gifted them the ball inside their own D from which they scored within 20 seconds as Armitage still lay on the ground berating himself. His highlight, however, was after his goal. From the restart, Sanderstead attacked and all 11 of our players crammed into the 25 to defend with their lives. Well, ten actually. Armitage was spotted on the opposition 25 posing for a photograph taken from the sideline by his fiancée.

After going 2-3 down we had our worst few minutes, clinical passing giving way to wild hitting. But we gradually rediscovered out touch and eventually our pressure paid off as the tireless Bruce, who is clearly powered by Duracel, bundled home the equaliser. A scrappy goal to beat the visitor’s keeper who had kept them in the hunt. We finished the stronger but the draw was just.

Subruy 2-1 4th XI
The two foes lined up in the well groomed pastures just to the North of the Thames. The sun poked through the clouds just prior to combat - the omens were good and the smell of revenge pervaded the ranks. The Cranliegh army, swelled by the late arrival of a platoon of reservists, lined up with the advantage of sun at their backs. Lord Tucker laid out the strategy - there was also a healthy balance of trades and experience across the troops. Just before the first blows, there was much commotion and sabre rattling from the Sunbury ranks – they knew the importance of this clash to their entire Anglo campaign.

During the first salvos it became obvious that with sound tactics and application – ‘this was a battle that OC’s should win!’. The opening exchanges were frenetic, the OC infantry gained valuable territory, surging repeatedly at the heart of the Hampton ranks and almost breaking through the line several times. The Hampton defence continued to hold firm under great pressure, until, after some 20 minutes, the Hampton cavalry cleverly outflanked the OC masses, dealing a severe blow to the Cranleigh cause by almost wiping out the King’s special guard (1 – nil).

Cranleigh retreated, re-assembled and returned to the fray with continued hope, purpose and vigour, but still relying primarily on the energy and courage of their infantrymen. Once again OC made great territorial strides, but the threat of the Sunbury long-bow archers remained from afar. Half-way through the struggle OC delivered a vital blow, a well aimed volley of crOXObows, resulting in the Sunbury leader taking a bolt through the heart (1 – 1). The balance of power remained with Cranleigh through the rest of the day and the battle descended into a morass of blood and guts, but alas the determined foe just held their defensive structure.

Then - just as the sun was setting on the scene, another horse-backed Sunbury raiding party struck again at the beleaguered King’s guard. Sabres clashed and the King took a devastating fatal blow (2 – 1). The news spread quickly through the OC ranks and the retreat was sounded. The retreat minimised unnecessary casualties - Cranleigh re-grouped to assess the damage and re-fuel the unbowed, but weary troops. They would be back to fight another day! Nick Jocelyn

Veterans 5-0 Tunbridge Wells

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Match report March 6 2010

Rory Alexander scored all four goals in a below-par performance against strugglers Southampton University, but it was enough to secure us a 4-2 victory which keeps us at the top of the table. The Ladies turned in an excellent display to beat second-placed Wimbledon, keeping our outside chance of promotion alive. The 3rd XI won 2-0 at Surrey Old Boys, while the 4th XI put their early-year goal famine behind them by trouncing Addiscombe 7-1, but the 2nd XI were on the receiving end of an 8-2 stuffing by Merton.

Southampton Uni 2-4 1st XI
As well as we performed last week this performance was poor and but for Rory's sharp shooting which bagged him all four and Paul's excellent debut in goal we would have been in trouble.

Southampton Uni may well be wondering how we are top and undefeated, but top and undefeated we are needing four points out of the 12 remaining on offer to confirm promotion. Today was probably as much as expecting to win and being too casual - something we talked about ahead of the game. A number of us were off our game and we were too slow in bringing the ball out of areas. Although we had the lion's share of possession we squandered chances, choosing the wrong option, and only won one short corner.

The half time score was 1-1, Rory deflecting home a cross from Wobble where we had brought the ball out from the right hand side, two touched it to the left with Wobble putting the ball into the D. In the first few minutes Cookiey and Hunts hammered a ball goalwards and Gavin was in good positions on a handful of occasions when wrong options were chosen. Ever dangerous on the break the Uni created some good chances but Paul was on hand to keep the goal intact making three top-drawer saves. There was however nothing he could do to prevent an equaliser 20 seconds from half time when the ball was given away by our defence two yards out.

Early in the second half we made the most of what the Uni thought was a fortuitous decision for our only short with their keeper making a Horlicks of Rory's shot and we were two up. Although we scored two more to go 4-1 up, Rory whipping home two shots from the top of the D, we were never comfortable in our play and gave the Uni a sniff with 8 minutes to go conceding another sloppy goal.

Fair to say that our attendance at training over the last few weeks has been poor and this is reflected in performances like today. We are too one dimensional and lack legs in certain parts of the pitch, both of which can be sorted by a more committed training regime.

Southampton seconds next week so will be interesting to see what team they put out. Do they bolster the 2s at the expense of the 1s to try and turn us over or ensure a strong first XI who are playing Wanderers to keep their promotion rather than title designs alive? David Knapp

Ladies XI 2-1 Wimbledon

2nd XI 2-8 Merton

Surrey Old Boys II 0-2 3rd XI
The 3XI drove down the A3, beyond Thames Ditton to the last game at The Varsity Centre which is due to be knocked down at the end of the season. Playing against a team that we dished out a 11-0 spanking to earlier this season, we had a strong line-up (and Jock) anticipating a challenging game.

The game started with confident play and solid movement of the ball through the team. Surrey old Boys (SOBs) however started picking up the game after 10 minutes and pushed the defence to some innovative play. Stu and Tim held the centre well and although some attacks were more threatening, it was Mr Hawes that kept the team in with a shout. It was however another attack that Tim 'twinkle-toes' Judd felt that using his feet instead of the stick to keep the ball out that Nigel really stepped up. A penalty flick, Nigel, theatrical to the point, deflected the flick away with his stick keeping the OCs in the game. The 1st half evolved with some better play in the last 10 minutes with CD holding the right defence and distributed the ball through to Tissy and the centre midfields, Armo and Bruce. Preston dropped back a little to provide a point man and the OCs started to control the end of the first half. In one of the attacks, a ball crossed in and SOBs defence weren't able to clear and another foot on the line. Preston stepped up and calming put the ball away into the right side. Half time.

The second half started with better play and the midfield started to have better control of the game. Although SOBs weren't giving up, the distribution and team work in the second half was greatly improved. SOBs attack however came with occassional breaks that the defence handled well but it was Mr Hawes that held his own and made several excellent clearances. Ross and Chaz were linking up well upfront and starting to move the ball quickly but a moment that no one likes to see, Stu in a shot at goal, shot from the back of the D and a SOB defended put his head onto the end of Stu's stick and came off the worse. Paramedics arrived, Jock told the injured man to man-up and off to Surrey A&E on a saturday afternoon. We wish the player all the best.

The midfield started to take control of the game in the final 5 minutes and some strong breaks played out and although a goal almost seemed inevitable, some excellent skills from Preston drew the keeper out to the ball, passed to Chaz whos sweep was going slightly off course and it was Ross from 2 inches that closed out the game with a 2-0 win. Man of the match, Nigel Hawes, DOTD was however Tim who turned up without a stick and shin pads! Whatever he thought was going to happen with these minor resources remains a mystery. A good win and well played to the OC defence, another clean sheet. James Armitage

4th XI 7-1 Addiscombe

Wimbledon Vets 0-2 Vets XI
OC Vets arrived in dribs and drabs for the evening fixture against Wimbledon in Motspur Park, somewhere north of Siberia. The footballers on the adjoining pitches had long since packed up and gone home before our game had even started. The setting sun dazzled for one half but gave out no warmth. We were cold before we even started, frost-bitten by half time and by the end had all sensation in our extremities. But nevertheless we left New Malden in good spirits, with the glow of satisfaction of a fine win warming our hearts.
There were eleven of us and about fifteen of them. We were blessed with the presence of Ollie, rock solid at the back and full of class. Shanks had another stormer between the sticks, and the spine of the team was strong; Trinder, Howie and Rowlands running midfield, were, as they always are, very very good. But above all we had Andrew Eve and Andrew, as the song goes, ‘well, he was something else’.

A rather scruffy first half came alive when Rowlands slipped his man, got down the line and knocked a dangerous ball to the top of an empty D. Eve, with a defender in close attendance, raced each other to the ball but the winner of that contest was emphatically our balding super-skipper. Arriving half a yard before his opponent he unleashed a fierce first-time shot from fifteen yards out that bulleted into the top right hand corner. The Wimbledon keeper was good enough to get a hand on it but the shot was too strong and, courtesy of this wonder-strike, we got to half time one up.

Very few of us listen to Andrew’s half time talks any more, but anyone who had would have heard him suggest that we have a ‘big first ten minutes and get a second goal’. Well ten goalless minutes of the second half were nearly up when Andy took it upon himself to implement his own half-time advice. Another dangerous OC attack looked to have been stifled as the ball was shovelled away from goal by a defender. Luckily for us it fell to the mighty Eve who smashed a bouncing ball just inside the far post. Eve 2 Wimbledon nil and for a while it was party-time.

Then with 10 minutes remaining our luck seemed to run out as our hairless hero decided to intercept a fast moving Wimbledon clearance. He charged at the oncoming ball just as a Wimbledon stick lifted it head high. There was a sickening, bony thud as the ball hit Eve square on the forehead opening up a deep, nasty and bloody wound. There then followed a period of intense medical activity (i.e. chaos) as various Vets demonstrated their caring skills. Trinder took charge but was tender, you might say almost maternal. Rowlands was enthusiastic but, with respect, largely incompetent, crowning his eccentric surgical efforts with an attempt to apply a large plaster without first removing it from the packet. The author of this report demonstrated a medieval ignorance of micro-biology and germs by producing and applying a grubby bandage that had been languishing in the bottom of his kit bag since 1997.

Thus was our beloved leader repaired and, bless him, was he was determined to play on Terry Butcher style, bloodied but unbowed. Common sense prevailed however and Wimbledon kindly lent us a player and we battled the last ten minutes, with Eve consigned to helpful remarks from the touchline.

Within seconds however Wimbledon won a flick and we all had that nasty feeling that the game might yet slip through our fingers. But we reckoned without Shanksy who leaped cat-like to his right post to beat out the well-placed stroke. It was a great save from our in-form keeper and much-needed. Our self-belief was thus restored and Wimbledon’s soon faded and we were able to keep them out until the final whistle.

This was a great win between two very evenly matched teams separated only by two moments of brilliance by the ever-young Andrew Eve. David Burles

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Saturday, 20 February 2010

Match report February 20 2010

A huge win for the 1st XI as they beat promotion-chasing Yateley 3-1, a result which puts us in a commanding position at the top of the table given Southampton's draw at bottom-placed Woking. The 3rd XI had a Jock Vickers goal 90 seconds from time to thank for earning them a 1-1 draw in an entertaining game against Horley, while the 4th XI also drew, 2-2 away at OMWs.

1st XI 3-1 Yateley
Click here for match photos
Three huge points in another entertaining encounter against a Yateley team who come and play good and aggressive hockey. A point behind having played a game more than us made this a must-win game for Yateley and certainly one they could not afford to lose. As it was we ran out winners scoring two key goals at points in the game where we were under pressure.

We dominated the first 20 minutes playing some excellent hockey but only had Cookiey's goal to show for our efforts, with his picking up a loose ball from a short that had broken down and coolly slotting the ball home by lifting it over the diving goalkeeper. Playing patient hockey we built from the back and posed constant threats down the flanks. The work rate was exceptional but we could not convert the chances we created so giving Yateley a sniff. A mix-up at the back enabled the away side to break and they should have made more of the chance. In between times Coops made two great saves to keep our noses in front. We perceived that the danger would come from the Yateley short corners but we managed to deal with the threat whilst not making the most of our corners.

As the first half entered the last 10 minutes we were being pinned in our own half as the pressure mounted, but a break out of defence saw the ball fall to Rory who used pace and strength to cut in and roll the ball under the advancing keeper, a goal against the run of play. The last play of the half ended with us winning a short and although Cookiey flicked the ball into the goal Woody was correctly adjudged to have used his body to bring the ball down before making the pass.

After the break Yateley continued to press giving us no time to build our attacks but we held firm until we conceded a short that Rob Lowe converted to bring Yateley back into the game and deservedly so. Coops continued to hold firm however but midway through the half we lost Danny to a yellow card for breaking play down and Yateley sensed they had a golden opportunity to draw level. As it was a superb ball from Rippers to Cookiey opend up the oppo's defence and a crashed ball was touched in by Knapp at the far post to make it 3-1. Two minutes later we were down to nine when Eds received a yellow but again the away side were unable to benefit as one of their players received a yellow for a similar offence. Arguably this card was harsh but gave us the fillip we needed.

Our defence prevented any further clear cut chances until 10 minutes from time but Coops was again on hand to thwart the oppo perhaps being fortunate as the ball lodged itself under his pads but seeing the decision going his way.

Aaron and Tony umpired what was a potentially tricky game very well although we probably had the best of the marginal decisions.

Probably the most encouraging aspect to come out of the season thus far are the performances of Cookiey and Rory who have taken their being dropped on the chin and come back with real character.

Always difficult to pick a man of the match after a team performance like today's but if there was one it had to be Coops.

Our win has also done Southampton a favour but with six games to go we cannot afford to be complacent. London Wayfarers at TD next week who will be another tough nut to crack.

OMWs 5-1 2nd XI
A very disappointing result, especially given our dominance in the first half. At times it has to be said that they seemed to want it more than us. If we want to stay in this league then we must win on Saturday. We beat Wanderers 3s 6-0 at home, but they’ll will put up much more of a fight this time - they beat London Eds 7-0 on Saturday. A further blow came with news that captain Rob merry is likely to miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a broken hand during the game.

3rd XI 1-1 Horley
An entertaining game played in a good spirit with more than enough goal-mouth action to keep a decent crowd entertained on a cold and sunny morning. Both sides showed some excellent touches, with the youthful Marshall brothers (Surely some mistake), playing together for the first time, in excellent form. We created some good chances, Simon Marshall going closest when his point-blank nudge was pushed wide and then creating another with a crisp angled ball across the D which somehow avoided all three OC strikers.

Horley were not short of opportunities either, forcing Nigel Hawes into several diving saves and even allowing him the chance to wipe out one of their forwards. His smirk as he feigned interested in the flattened striker’s welfare was clear even from the sidelines.

Horley looked more dangerous as the game wore on but our defence held firm, and in the middle Duncan, Armo and Bruce ran their socks off while Stu played well without ever threatening to run anything off. Horley took the lead when they finally converted a three-on-two ten minutes from time, and that appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of us as we followed with some of our worst hockey of the day. But with two minutes to go we won a short corner from which Jock Vickers dragged the ball from the top of the D and it ambled through a sea of sticks before apologetically puffing into the goal. He claimed topspin. Everyone else knew better.

OMWs 2-2 4th XI
It has been said that when John Terry chose which of his team-mates' wives to do the dirty with he should have ignored Wayne Bridge's WAG and looked no further than Mr Cole's. Not only is Cheryl a bastion of pop and judge of fine music, but she seems to be a lot more available these days ....

In the OC fourth team the incest is even more rife. The love triangle between the three captains (Dom, Harmer and Archer) has been hinted to before in this column. This week the news broke that Dom and Harmer had disappeared to Barcelona for the weekend, leaving Archer alone to lead the team. Not only was he alone, but a late 'sickie' text from Smeer left the team one short at 10am. (Sorry Smeer, hope you are feeling better).

Cometh the moment, cometh the man - and Andy Eve was there by 11am to save the day.

An arguable first goal (had it gone five yards, had it not, do we know the rules yet ... probably not) left us behind after 15 minutes. This was countered 20 minutes later with a bullet of a cross from Jonker that was deftly placed in the back of the net by Howy.

The second half went in a similar manner. This time, however, it was definitely a goal from OMW with a cunning short-corner routine. Again Howy was there soon after to equalise. Finishing at 2-2, it was probably a fair result.

The game at best could be described as scrappy and at worst it could be said that Tommy, Howy, Evo and a bunch of 14-year-olds on the opposition gave us a lesson in experience and skill.

Post-match cakes, however, were a fine array of baking. A night at the oven had produced a near Tesco standard of confectionary from Oxo.

Thanks to all everyone who made the game possible even though two of our captains have let us down this week by being on a 'mini' break. But similarly to John Terry, as long as they play well next week I expect all will be forgotten. Mark Oxbrough

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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Match report February 13 2010

A good week at the top end with the 1st remaining in a promotion spot after a 3-1 win over Epsom and the 2nd XI recording their first win of the year with a 3-0 victory over bottom side London Edwardians. The 3rd XI went down 0-3 at Epsom while the 4th XI paid dearly for a lack of a striker in losing 1-2 to Old Reigatians. The Vets drew 2-2 at St Albans.

Epsom 1-3 1st XI
As expected a tough game against an uncompromising Epsom side whose results had in the main been excellent since Christmas other than a drubbing from Yateley last week. Their recent performances and that of today belied their league position and they should surely retain their place in the league come April.

Great to see a Hampshire umpire controlling our game with the 2009 Loveland most-improved umpire Susie Redshaw at the other end, an award richly deserved. We were at last able to make the presentation to Susie in the Epsom club house after the game.

Fair to say we were slow out of the blocks having had a languid warm-up. We missed Hunter in the centre of the pitch even though Ripley and Nick Wood caused all sorts of problems in the middle especially towards the end of the game. Danny was solid and ensured that no ball was given away. The initial exchanges went our way but Epsom had the best early chances with Coops making two top-drawer saves at 0-0 whilst we failed to put the Epsom keeper under any pressure. We were guilty of not shooting when perhaps we should have and not capitalising on the good positions in which we found ourselves. Winning shorts is something we failed to do and so nearing half time it was anyone's game as Epsom looked dangerous on the break with our trying to force the game to too great an extent.

As it was we won our first corner three minutes from the break and Eds with his best strike of the season drilled the ball home albeit the line man deflecting the ball into the roof. Epsom felt the initial strike was too high but the umpires disagreed. Rory and Cookiey were again buzzing around and their hard work was paying dividends as the half progressed. Nick Wood made a series of strong runs through the heart of the Epsom defence but we only had the one goal to show at half time. James Wood was solid at left half.

The half time team talk centred around being tight and playing commercially so it was disappointing to concede a well worked Epsom goal early in the second period when we went to sleep. From here on we battered the Epsom defence but could not find a way through. Their keeper made an excellent double save at one of our shorts with the line man casually taking another Eds rocket off the line. As the game progressed Rippers and Woody drove through the top of the 25 setting up good plays and we started to win a number of shorts. Some of the Epsom tackling became desperate as we stuck to our task and eventually from our sixth short Rippers was on hand to fire in a rebound that touched Knappy's stick on the way in. Wobble can count himself unlucky in last week's game after two pushes on our aging forward who had unceremoniously been dumped on the ground went unpunished but Knapp had the last laugh scoring the third when unpicking the Epson sweeper who dwelt too long on the ball with six minutes to go, making the game safe.

Great performances from Rory and Cookiey both of whom have showed real character in bouncing back from the disappointment of being dropped to the seconds before Christmas. As always Cato and CB were tight at the back with the two Woods mopping up all that came their way.

Three very important points with Yateley up next week at TD. A massive game for both sides and let us hope that we bag the three points on offer. David Knapp

2nd XI 3-0 London Edwardians
This week's match photos
It may not have been a connoisseurs’ delight – Bertie, who had travelled from Merton to stand alone in the freezing cold to assess the umpires certainly had views on the quality – but there will be no complaints at our first win in three months to end a run of seven straight losses. Pretty it might not have been, but London Edwardians could have few complaints in a match they rarely looked like getting back into after two goals midway through the first half has settled our nerves. We controlled the first half, dominated the second, but somehow failed to add more than one after the break, while the rare Eds’ breaks were superbly snuffed out by the assured Jon Heard. The season could hinge on matches against teams either side of us over the next fortnight.

Epsom 3-0 3rd XI
Not wishing to use a cliche but it was definitely a game of two halves. In the first we turned up and looked really good everyone playing to their strengths and stroking the ball around nicely. Our new recruit Dan at left back put in a superb display (even if he did lower the average age of the team by a full two years). Unfortunately the 2nd half arrived, possibly our worst half of the season (mine definitely!!). This meant that our first-half 0-0 draw scenario (which should have been a better situation as we had plenty of opportunities), was changed into a 3-0 loss by the end. You will have to excuse me if I don't go into any greater detail. Hopefully next week we will get back our mojo and string together two good halves. Thanks go to Cooky for Umpiring for us. Nigel Hawes

4th XI 1-2 Old Reigatians
A cold day at TD saw the game start with just 10 men - fortunately on both sides. Some solid play in the centre of the pitch from Howard saw us build towards the opposition’s D on several occasions in the first half. As we continued to push forward the ORs picked up on a few uncharacteristic errors at the back giving them two soft goals in the first half, against the run of play. Not very often is Robin Crumby beaten when left one on one at the back – all credit to the ORs’ forward (No. 9). That said we rallied and a Nick Jocelyn buried the ball after some scrabbling following a short corner two minutes before the break.

At the half time break we had the usual rousing team talk from Dom – “only two goals needed and we win the match”. Wise words – but only if we could capitalise on them with accurate shooting. We surged forward and dominated possession for most of the second half, but our finishing made the goal drought – one in two months - understandable. A disallowed goal from another short corner (too high) and a few missed chances went begging across the D in front of the goal. To be fair the ORs’ keeper had a good game and kept them firmly locked down at the back.

So the final whistle came and another defeat (1-2) – the goal drought must clear up soon, I just pity the team that finally plays us when the floodgates finally open. Post-match white chocolate and cranberry cookies baked by Grant Archer slightly lifted the frustration. Grant Archer

St Albans 2-2 Veterans

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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Match reports January 23 2010

The 1st XI returned from the extended Christmas break with a 3-0 win over Wanderers to maintain the promotion chase, and the Ladies did likewise, a goal from Jax Waite 23 seconds from time helping them to a 3-2 win over Epsom. The 3rd XI went down 1-2 to Oxted in a tight game, while the 4th XI ground out a 0-0 draw at NPL.

1st XI 3-0 Wanderers
Without doubt our best all round performance of this and many years in a crucial game at the top. Wanderers have had the wood on us for three or so years but today we laid the ghost. We welcomed back Wobble and Mini C made his home debut in goal.

The most difficult decision of the day was the choice of Man of the Match with a number of candidates, Rippers eventually squeezing out good performances from Gavind, Danny and Cookiey, the latter showing what we missed against Andover before the break. My dick of the day award was decided on an off the pitch incident of some three weeks old but clearly now changes the voting criteria. Happy though to win 3-0 each week and win d of the d.

This result could however have been so different had Wanderers taken their chance in the fourth minute when it seemed easier to score than miss following a superb interchange of passes that cut us open. Indeed, we hardly touched the ball in the first five minutes but other than the one scare our defence was resolute and played with greater confidence than for a number of seasons. The games between us are always tight and hard fought and this was no exception with our two umpires blowing excellently throughout ensuring that a good game of hockey ensued. We began to dominate as the half went on and took the lead when Knapp was set up by Adair but we could not add to the one goal, not making the most of our corners. Wanderers pressed for the last five minutes of the half and won their one corner in the dying seconds but this was taken off the line.

The game was killed off by the 50th minute with two Hunter goals, the first from a powerful flick, well called by Eds and a tap in having again been set up by the impressive Adair. From our point of view it was crucial not to concede and this we did but should perhaps have added a fourth but we did squander a few chances. Cookiey was a thorn in the Wanderers side with his pace and Danny had his best game of the season so far. Wobble provided us with a get out at left half that we used well on a number of occasions.

Southampton next week so three more vital points at stake. David Knapp

Epsom 2-3 Ladies XI
As coach Andy Howell said afterwards, you need a bit of luck to go your way if you are to get promoted. That we won a hard-fought match with a goal from Jackie Waite in the final half minute might be vital at the end of the season, and it was certainly hard on a battling Epsom side who looked much better than bottom place. For the first quarter they were all over us, and deservedly went ahead, only for Vikki Mottram to level within 70 seconds. In the second half we gradually took more control and appeared to have broken Epsom's resistance when Katie put us ahead on 50 minutes, but within a minute Epsom were level, punishing some dreadful defending as we went to sleep. The draw appeared likely - we had chances, and on another day could have had two flicks - before Jackie's strike gave us the win.

3rd XI 1-2 Oxted
A well-fought match against a good Oxted side well worth their second place in the table. For the first 25 minutes we were under the cosh, struggling against slick and quick passing. It was not overly surprising when we went a goal down on a quarter of an hour, but DOug MacKenzie levelled, against the run of play and after a run through a pourous defence, two minutes before the break. The second half was much more even, and we survived a yellow carding for the goalkeeper who inexplicably kicked the ball five yards outside his D - the sight of a helmeted Jock Vickers as kicking back was enough to persuade Oxted to keep away. Oxted regained the lead ten minutes from time and held on with few alarms, helped by our inability to get any shorts on target. A fair result but a decent performance.

NPL 0-0 4th XI
Finally the snow has cleared and the second half of the season commenced for the 4th XI. A cold and damp morning was matched by equally drab surroundings for the game in Hounslow. Someone was even overheard referring to the grey concrete building next to the pitch as something that would not have looked out of place in Prisoner Cell Block H.

The seasonal festivities seeming long ago as we pushed back against a well-disciplined NPL side. A change to our formation created plenty of space, however this was utilised by both sides. Neither side really challenged the goalkeepers in the first half, a few short corners went begging and one strike on goal was neatly swept away by their keeper led us in to half time with no score on the board.

The second half brought strong displays from Robin “The Wall” Crumby at centre back ably assisted by Nick Aston and Kevin Smith presenting a strong back line preventing many of the NPL Bees counter attacks. Then a sprawling Steve Harmer got unlucky in his positioning on the back of a short corner giving away a penalty flick! Nigel Smith chose the right way to dive and once the ball finally dribbled up to him he cleared it away (fortunately not the sharpest of P-Flicks ever taken).

The final minutes saw wave after wave of attacks fizzling out in the oppo’s D and many counter attacks being shut out by our strong defence. An short corner nearly broke the deadlock with Nick Jocelyn’s bullet-like strike hitting the post and rebounding, with the follow up from Jamal also hitting the same post and bouncing away.

So a 0-0 draw was probably a fair reflection on the game, with either side having looked capable of sneaking a goal - but neither actually managing to do so…

Post-match cakes were provided courtesy of Jamal – (Death by Chocolate) – and as this was as close as the team got to warming-down it may even prove to be the case!

Room for improvement all round for next week. Grant Archer

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Match reports November 28 2009

The 1st XI remained top of Surrey/Hants 2 with a 4-1 win over Southampton’s second side , but the result of the day came at Battersea where the Ladies beat runaway leaders Spencer 3-1 to move third. Results elsewhere were not so good. The 2nd XI slid back into relegation trouble with a 2-4 loss at home to Barnes, the 3rd XI’s six-match unbeaten run ended 1-3 at Sanderstead, the 4th XI went down 0-1 at home to Sunbury, and the Vets lost 1-3 to Wimbledon..

Click here for this week's match photos

Southampton II 1-4 1st XI
A hard fought and not pretty win with our coming up against a stubborn Southampton 2s who wanted to do their 1s a favour.

We knew we would have to be patient against a defensively minded Southampton by playing the ball around and building slowly. However it took a goal against the run of play to spur us into action with the home side taking the lead following a poor tackle from CV, a short and our usual defensive frailties in conceding a goal that should never have been let in.

Five minutes later we drew level with Rippers setting up Knapp and from then on it was a matter of when rather than if. Down to nine men for the last five of the first half we failed to capitalise, the home keeper saving well a couple of times but our six short corners coming to nought. We really do have to work on these.

The second corner of the second did bring our second, Knapp sniffing off the keeper at the fourth attempt prompting Hunter to question if age had caught up with him at last. This prompted Southampton to change tack and come out of their defensive mind set and we benefited with the greater space, Cookiey this time picking the ball off the keepers pads and popping the ball home. A later short was walloped home by Eds to make the score 4-1 but two from 12 corners is a poor return.

Cato won man of the match for a solid performance at the back although Rippers had his best game of the season and arguably had more telling touches and effect on the game in central midfield.

Wanderers beat Southampton and so tightens matters at the top with our having dropped four points, Southampton and Wanderers five. Two games to go before the break and six points required.

Spender 1-3 Ladies XI
This week saw us come head to head with the current league leaders, Spencer, and it can safely be said there were a few pre-match nerves about this one. However, after a few encouraging pre-match words from Goalie and some great team spirit, the ladies were set for leaving the pitch with nothing less than three points.

As in any match, it took a few minutes to settle into the game but we had soon got to grips with the opposition's playing style and were quick to get up in the D and get a few shots on goal. A cheeky flick in the back of the net from Sarah Mann put us 1-0 up. Spencer, looking slightly uneased by this early goal, soon realised this match wasn't going to be a walk in the park for them. The remainder of the first half saw some great one - twos and brilliant defending. However, a lucky straight strike from the top of the D by a Spencer forward saw the score hit 1-1 by the half time whistle.

The second half was a different story altogether. From the whistle, we were looking more confident than ever and as a result, did a fantastic job of putting training into practice. In defence, no Spencer player was left unmarked causing them to make rush moves, resulting in nothing more than giving us a few more sixteens. Making the most of these, the ball was soon up in the opposing D and some fanstastic textbook moves from the the mids and forwards saw us get two more brilliant goals from Jax and Vikki. All in all, it was a great effort all round which resulted in a well deserved win! Lucy Bevin

2nd XI 2-4 Barnes
Click here for this week's match photos
With a strong side (albeit with a number of new faces, and completely different from the week before) we were confident in beating a Barnes team who sat immediately below us in the league before the game. We were once again dealt a blow in the build up to the game losing Cookiey, called up after taking his opportunity to shine for the 1s the previous week, and Heardy to another 1s injury.

We started brightly enough, creating some early pressure in their d. However they were already proving dangerous on the break and we conceded first. This pressed us into action and a well worked move down the left left Porter unmarked on the left post to slot home for our first. We conceded another at the break, demonstrating an alarming tendency to miss repeated tackles, allowing their strong midfield to flood through. Once again our inability to hold the ball up front was the other main cause of our demise.

The second half continued in much the same vain. Repeated deliberate fouling in the middle third of the pitch by them effectively broke our flow and went unpunished by the umpires, in fact seemingly obvious decisions actually went against us. Bizarrely we were the first side to get a yellow, Will Stephens was the unfortunate recipient. Finally three quarters of an hour late they got a yellow for yet another shocking challenge. By then it was too late and the 4 goals we conceded could have been more were it not for some fine last ditch tackling (JP Davidson in particular) and some good saves by Paul Watson (on his debut). We finally got one back with a scrappy goal finally put away by James Bents.

We are now in 10th place and we have Old Kingstonians (5th) and Oxted (6th) before Christmas. In fairness Barnes were one of the better sides we have played so far, but in truth we were poor. We must build on short passages of great hockey (both in attack and defence) that we have been able to put together in small parts of games. A regular side that doesn’t change every week and a genuine striker would be very useful in developing this consistency. Rob Merry

Sanderstead 3-1 3rd XI
It’s really not a great mix for a Saturday afternoon, not only were we playing at one of the bleakest grounds possible where I swear it is 5 degrees colder than any where else. Then the afternoon was made complete by being greeted by everyones favourite umpire and also our favourite forward who it looked like had dropped down to the 3rd’s just for our pleasure. Nevertheless these two favourites were on surprisingly pleasant form especially the latter who seemed to have turned over a new leaf of serene calm. We didn’t need this pair to ruin our afternoon despite holding out until halftime at 0-0 we determined to throw it all away in the 2nd half. When Chris was taken off to hospital having head butted a stick we seemed to lose the urge to play. It was only when he had gone 3-0 down to three well taken goals by Sanderstead that we suddenly realised that we had actually come to the beautiful town of Croydon to play hockey. Although we pulled back one goal, through what was probably our only flowing move, with Andy slotting home from some great play by Stuey. There really wasn’t a great deal else to write home about. The only thing that we could take from this was that we really need to get ourselves back together for next week and also thankfully this was the only match in Croydon for the season. All our best goes to Chris who we can report spent a nice time (3Hours) in the joys of Maygay Hospital (reportedly a scary place at the best of times) and now sports a scar that would make Harry Potter pretty jealous. Nigel Hawes

4th XI 0-1 Sunbury
Report to follow

Vets 1-3 Wimbledon
Report to follow

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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Match reports November 14 2009

The 1st XI moved top of the Surrey/Hants Regional 2 with a 3-1 win over London Wayfarers, while 2nd XI eased their relegation worries with a 6-0 win over Wanderers, all goals coming in the second half. The 4th XI beat Surrey University 3-0, while the 3rd XI fought out a 0-0 draw against UCL Academicals. The Ladies went down 0-1 at Wimbledon, while the Vets also drew 0-0.Cookie slots home the 2nd XI's sixth
Click here for this week's match photos

London Wayfarers 1-3 1st XI
A workmanlike performance following a very lethargic pre match routine. A sign of the advannce we have made over the last 2 or 3 years however is the fact that a number of us realised we were way off the pace in the warm up and in each of their ways galvanised the guys into shape.

The first 10 minutes were going to be key as Wayfarers were a far better side than their league position showed with their first team more than holding their own in the tougher league above. Fortunately we managed to have the better of the first period and with some intelligent running in the mid field and up front scored a superbly crafted goal creating space with a quick interchange of 5 or more passes and threading through a well weighted cross for Eds to guide home following a blindside run. In 15 we were 2 up with another crisp move ending with Gavin forcing a stroke that Jonny H put home with great power. At that point we should have sealed up the game but allowed LW back into the game. Trickster made 3 very good saves but we conceded a goal on 25 minutes, caught on the break and allowed a shot from the top of the D to its way in. The initiative passed to the home side who pressed for the remainder of the half and the break came at the right time for us as we had lost our pattern and were running with the ball needlessly and at the wrong time instead of continuing our passing game.

Five minutes into the second half we restored our two-goal advantage when Knapp picked up a loose ball five yards out and from then on we controlled the game albeit being unable to find the sucker punch. Eds hit the post after a wonder save by the LW keeper and on a couple of occasions we made the wrong decision in the D.

All in all a satisfactory result and a reasonable performance but we do have to look back and consider the number of times we made poor decisions and runs that made the game more difficult than it need. All hands to the pumps next week v Southampton Uni with our being five key players short. David Knapp

2nd XI 6-0 Wanderers
Forgive the tired old cliche, but this really was a game of two halves, and one played in the most unpleasant driving rain. In the first we controlled much of the game, so much so that Wanderers' forward line were forced deeper and deeper into their own half to try and get the ball, but failed to make the breakthrough. We were so on top that at one stage Jon Heard surged through a series of tackles on a run which took him from the halfway line to within eight yards of the goal – out of puff and bewildered by unfamiliar surroundings, he was relieved to be fouled and win a short corner. However, throughout the game our corner routine was poor as we failed to convert one from more than a dozen opportunities. Nil-nil at the break and it had all the makings of one of those days.

In the second half we ran riot, three goals in the first five minutes ending the match as a contest. Will Stephens, in his first game of the season, scored twice and modestly claimed the change in fortunes after the break was simply because he had moved into midfield where he adopted a senior-citizen never-run approach. With Cookie running rings round a tired defence, we could have racked up a dozen. As it was, the fifth goal (sorry, scorer please identify yourself!) was wonderfully worked, a flowing, quick move from side to side capped with a cracking finish, and the sixth saw Cookie rob a defender on the halfway line, sprint through, round the keeper and fire home as he fell.

UCL Academicals 0-0 3rd XI
Report to follow.

4th XI 3-0 Surrey University
In almost 30 years with the OCs I reckon I have watched around 1500 matches and until today I wouldn’t have been able to name the worst one I had seen. The high point of the day came when Adam dished out his home-made cookies, superbly soft with just the right qamount of crunch of the outside, after the final whistle. They were so good they almost made the previous 70 minutes worthwhile. Almost.

The good news is that the 4th XI won 3-0 and moved into third in the table. The bad news is that this was a match which started sloppily and got worse with more unforced and avoidable errors that Steve Harmer’s English O-level paper. Harmer, incidently, was green carded simply because he had been captain of the side last year and the umpire held him responsible for the torpor.

Harmer, the jaded rock at the back of the midfield diamond and a man who last week admitted to being a “reformed Chav”, is an interesting case study. Despite much abuse from team-mates, opponents and passing spectators, week in, week out he turns in solid and unheralded performances. One facet of his play is well worth watching. Give him the ball anywhere in the opposing half, ideally in a dead-ball situation, and then watch. His head darts about as if looking for the smallest opening to thread a precision pass through. Unsuspecting opponents wait for a flick to the right wing or a sweep to the left. The unwary expect a Cristiano Ronaldo moment; what they get is Titus Bramble. Every time – and Opta stats show this is the case in 98.6% instances – having gone through his preparations he then belts the ball as hard and as straight as he can. It’s often effective and is a throwback to the era of grass hockey. There are few such practitioners of the art still left in the game. Get out and see it while you can.

Andy gave us the lead in the fifth minute, Jamal fired home the second on 20 minutes with an almost solitary strike of class, and Dom scrambled home the third with the last hit of the game. That aside, the only drama of the afternoon came when the wind lifted the dugout from its base, over the perimeter fence and deposited it upside down on the grass bank.

Surrey Uni at least brightened up a wretched day with their kit, classic shiny tight shirts straight out of Liverpool’s 1980s period with the shortest shorts to match. They huffed and puffed but seemed obsessed with kicking the ball when they did get near our goal. We gradually allowed ourselves to get sucked into the scrap, so much so that for the last quarter it was the very limited visitors who created the bulk of the attacking chances. The end could not come soon enough.

Wimbledon 1-0 Ladies XI
With Wimbledon sitting just below us in the league we knew it was going to be a tough match. It was a disappointing start for us struggling on a very bouncy pitch, frustration showing all over and unfortunately we went down one nil with a simple one on one.
However the second half was a totally different story. We regrouped and played brilliantly piling on the pressure. We had several chances on goal with the hitting of posts and diving for touches but not able to score. A really shame to lose one nil but a great effort with again some fantastic defensive work.

Veterans 0-0 St Albans
Report to follow.

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Saturday, 7 November 2009

Match reports November 7 2009

A superb win for the 1st XI, battling back from two down to beat Yately 3-2 and so jump them into second place. The 2nd XI also came from behind - twice - but eventually went down 2-3 to OMWs in a scrappy match marred by an injury to Dodie Khurshid and some substandard umpiring. The Ladies moved into third in Surrey II with a 3-0 win over Old Georgians, the 3rd XI recovered from shipping a goal inside two minutes to beat Horley 3-2 and also move into third, while the 4th XI cruised to a 4-0 victory over a young OMWs side. The eyebrow-raiser scoreline came at Sevenoaks where the Vets went down 2-11.A chance goes begging during the 2nd XI's defeat to OMWs
Click here for this week's match photos

Yately 2-3 1st XI
A game both sides needed to win but one we managed to earn the points.

Yateley struck first with their dangerous short corner routine paying dividends early on and our failing to make the most of two very good chances. The home side went two up when Trickster chased one of the oppo's forwards and inexplicably brought him down with our having no complaints about the ensuing stroke which was scored with ease. With only a minute to go a two-goal half time deficit would have been a huge problem but at last we woke up and began to realise we are in a game. Two chances in the last minute led to a stroke that Hunter put away giving us the half time psychological advantage.

The second half was a different affair. We came out of the traps fast and dominate the proceedings albeit Yateley looking dangerous on the break. The scores were level when Woody threaded a through pass that reached Gavin whose pinpoint pass was slotted home by Rory who had his best game of the season so far, his fifth in six. From that point onward it seemed as if there would only be one winner but our cause was not helped by three yellow cards to Ripley, Knapp and Brewer, two of which were perhaps very harsh but when back to 11 on the second occasion a short-corner strike from Eds found its way home and we had the lead for the first time in the game. If nothing else Yateley are fighters and were not prepared to lie down and be tickled. They pressed and won two short corners, the final one with the last play of the game but for once the routine let them down and we ran out winners.

A loss for us would have provided Yateley and Southampton with clear daylight at the top of the league but as it is the win puts us one point ahead of Yateley and still two behind Southampton. The next meeting in February will be a very important game and could have a huge bearing on the end of season placings. A poor first half perfromance with Yateley deservedly ahead but a feisty second half one that saw us edge the game, just. David Knapp

2nd XI 2-3 Old MidWhitgiftians
Clueless in attack and spineless in defence ... sorry thought I was back at Twickenham. Although it would be a harsh assessment of our performance, in some instances that is how it felt. The fact is that we should have never, never lost against what was at best a mediocre side. This is the exact type of game that we need to take maximum points from, in order to stay in this league - we know that we will face teams significantly better than this lot and so we need to get things right and fast. Old Mid Whits had one player of any calibre, and we let him punish us. Which is poor.

We were not helped that we lost a few players from the previous week's victory: Tom, Chris, Neil and our skipper Rob (through illness) and the fact that Farqs and Selbs were hobbling around with dodgy hamstrings. We did however welcome back stalwart Dodie but alas he could not finish the game after sustaining a horrific leg injury in the second half (best wishes for a speedy recovery).

Not ideal preparation but even so we should have run out comfortable winners. We started fairly brightly with openings created for Austin and Jimbo, unfortunately nobody could get on the end of either move. Their goal came against the run of play and after one of the poorest decisions I have ever witnessed from an umpire (and trust me I have seen my fair share of howlers, eh Martin) - it didn’t just touch the strikers foot, he absolutely leathered it! I don’t want to sound like a moaning, bitter man so I'll keep this bit short ...

That was the worst umpiring performance I have had to endure since I have played for the OCs. Honestly I can’t remember so many wrong decisions being made. Two of their three goals were absolutely down to umpire errors, which is such a bitter pill to swallow.

Back to a little serious stuff – I’m not going to regurgitate the match - we lost 3-2 and had numerous chances to win, let alone find an equaliser in the last 10 minutes - Cooky decided to step it up a gear and ran them ragged. Paul (stepping in commendably for us) hit the post with about three minutes to go ... you just knew it wasn’t to be our day...

Umpiring aside we need to look at our own performance which was not up to scratch. Each week we talk about composure and ball retention. These are clearly basics but are of huge importance. At times we look good, at others we look extremely shoddy. We have had six games now so should be used to new faces etc. There can be no more excuses. We need to improve our quality all over the pitch and each take responsibility for our own performances. We have definitely shown we can survive in this league, and look forward to welcoming back Neil, Chris and, as rumour would have it, Will Stephens which will strengthen us undoubtedly. But we need to put in a massive performance next Saturday and find some consistency. Or we will lose to Argentina. Chris Porter And in case it needs saying again, the views expressed in this match report are those of the author and not of the whole club etc etc

Horley 2-3 3rd XI
Report to follow

4th XI 4-0 Old MidWhitgiftians
This week saw the 4th XI take on Old Midwhitgiftians at Thames Ditton. Thanks go to Amy Davis, whose kind pitchside babysitting allowed Rob Jonker to umpire. Amy was undoubtedly delighted to discover that she wouldn’t also be required to babysit the group of teenagers knocking balls around beside the pitch, as it turned out they were in fact our opposition. With an average height of 5’ 3”, compared to our 6’ 4” (yes, this is distorted slightly by Smeer’s 5ft to-be-seen-to-be-believed Mohican), and an average age of 13 to our 65 (yes, this figure is distorted by the presence of Messrs Aston and Crumby’s creaking limbs) gravity and the energy of youth looked like being our biggest problem this week.

Martin stood in for Nige Smith in goal, making his presence felt early on in the game with a scything tackle on OMs forward. The resulting penalty flick was remarkably flicked high and wide of the goal. After that, and not surprisingly, their forward line didn’t go near Martin until at least the last 10 minutes of the match!

OMs young team defended like groups of wasps and frustrated us in the box - time and time again getting in the way when a goal looked certain. The goals did finally flow though and we took a 3-0 lead into half-time. If David Beckham played hockey, he’d probably play it like Steve Harmer; well, that’s what Steve would like you to think. His “David Beckhamesque pass” (he asked me to say that) midway through the first half found Jamal well-placed to open the scoring. A further goal by Jamal and one from Howard followed soon after.

A good start to the second half led to us adding a forth - Adam Justice slotting home moments after shooting agonisingly wide – after a long period of domination. We did create further chances, but with the game seemingly won saw fit to step off the gas and see things out to the final whistle. The OMWs first and only shot came two minutes from time. Another good result which keeps us within two points of second place in the league. Thanks to Rob Jonker for umpiring. Dom Tucker

Ladies XI 3-0 Old Georgians
A routine win over the league’s bottom side lifted us into third place, and put us in a strong position for a run of three matches against top-five sides. We started strongly and were all over the visitors but only had a Vikki Mottram goal to show for our efforts. We rather lost our way at the end of the first half, but dominated after the break as Goergians’ composure started to fall apart. Veteran Vikki added a classy second from a pull back from the dead-ball line by Charli, and Sarah Mann wrapped up the win with a crisp finish after a goalmouth melee. She later praised “super teamwork and great passing all over the pitch”.

Sevenoaks 11-2 Veterans
Of course we all know that hockey is a team game but on Saturday an enjoyable and competitive match was transformed by a certain Paddy Osborn demonstrating the goal scoring talents that made him all time top scorer in the National League with more than 122 goals. His final tally of six goals rather understates his involvement as three others were touched on the line by other players depriving him of a deserved nine-goal haul !

The day started promisingly with 13 players present and correct before kick-off including David Burles who had brought his mother along so we even had support and Sevenoaks had kindly agreed to provide both umpires. The game started slowly for OCs conceding an early goal which we would put down to only having a few minutes practice on the magnificent new pitch at Sevenoaks as the game before had run over. Matt Speers put his body on the line defending shots with his hand and had to come off to get some feeling back into his hand. He spent the rest of the match wondering whether someone had drawn a target on the back of his shirt as every time the ball was lifted it seemed to seek him out!

We got back into the game at 2 - 1 when Derek Shanks, over from the US, crossed the ball for Andrew Eve completely unmarked to rifle the ball home from the top of the D. There was only the goalkeeper to beat and he managed to avoid his recent tendency to fire the ball over the top - aiming for somewhere is very over-rated! This could have been a mistake as Sevenoaks upped their pace and took the their lead to 6 - 1 at half time.

The usual fascinating and incisive talk at half time was cut short by the defence saying don't worry about that just find some way of dealing with No. 27! In the second half we managed to play some good hockey keeping possession and building well only to be finally be broken down outside their D the ball shelled down the pitch and deposited in the back of the net by No. 27! Again we had them worried with a goal from the elusive Burles sneaking into the D and firing home his shot which he cleverly arranged to be deflected in by a Sevenoaks stick. I think he was just looking for some respite from defending!

The final score of 11 - 2 sounds disastrous but there were some great highlights unsurprisingly amongst the defence. Andy Loates stopping a waist high drag flick on the line with aplomb. Peter Shanks making some spectacular saves when appearing to have been beaten and his plea for someone other than him to get involved in defending. And even more unusually in a heavy defeat the usual chorus of "Fortunate Fellow" fellow was not heard from Pete after each goal was scored - you just have to appreciate class !

In the usual Vets way we returned to the Sevenoaks clubhouse, supped some delicious Harveys Best and by the time we left somewhat later had nearly persuaded Sevenoaks that they had been lucky to just sneak a win ! We obviously took some comfort from the fact that St Albans Emperors who we lost narrowly to 0- 2 in the first game of the season had beaten Sevenoaks 6-4 but look forward with a little trepidation to that away match in 2010. Andy Eve

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

2nd XI break their duck

The 2nd XI scored their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory at London Edwardians, while the 1st XI maintained their unbeaten record with a routine 5-1 defeat of bottom side Epsom. The Ladies cruised to one of their biggest wins in recent years as they overcame Cheam 6-0, while the 3rd battled to an entertaining 1-1 draw with Epsom. The only setback came at the bottom end where the 4th XI slumped to 1-5 loss at Old Reigatians. Epsom are saved by the crossbar
Click here for this week's match photos

1st XI 5-1 Epsom
After last week's average performance by our standards it was crucial that with Yateley next up we put in a solid performance against Epsom 2s who were propping up the table. Traditionally Epsom are a hard nut to crack and they would be the first to admit that they would relish the opportunity of putting one across our first XI.

As it was we had the perfect start with a good flowing move in the first minute ending with Gavin on hand to slot home and this should have been the platform for a routine and convincing win. However we did make hard work of the next 20 minutes, trying to force the pace and game instead of playing our own style with the pitch in perfect condition to do so. Once we played a short patient game with great off the ball movement we scored our second, a result of an interchange of 20 or more passes, a top run by Gavin that enabled Knapp to go through a huge hole in the middle of the Epsom defence and score our second. Hunter hit the bar with our second short that would have put us in cruise mode had it gone in with our corner team being asleep when failing to pop home the rebound.

Parts of the first half performance were disjointed due to our not boxing clever and to an extent the start of the second half repeated this failing allowing Epsom to score from their first corner, our not effectively clearing the first shot and giving Epsom the chance to score from the top of the D albeit aided by a deflection at the post. In previous seasons we may have at this juncture allowed the game to slip away but with Poulson and Hunter dominating in the midfield when they were not by passed Rory slapped home a far post pass to make it three and Gavin was on hand to nudge home his second of the game and sixth in five games to kill off the contest. With 2 minutes left on the clock our last short corner was converted, Nick Wood on hand to deflect home the ball going wide of the left post to give us a comfortable 5 - 1 win.

Our problems today were caused by having too much time and pressing too quickly and by passing the midfield. All our goals came from a patient build up and when slowing down the game. Massive game on the 7th November against Yateley who deservedly beat us in the play offs three years ago. David Knapp

London Edwardians 1-2 2nd XI
After a promising draw last week against the league leaders, there were many positives to be taken from a deserved 2-1 victory over London Edwardians this weekend; our first win following last year’s promotion, two fine goals, a wealth of attractive attacking hockey and a side bolstered by the inclusion of no fewer than 7 old school boys. And yet there were no major celebrations post-match and all 13 players involved knew that there is still a lot of room for improvement. In all honesty, we should have scored more goals and closed the game out early in the second half. As it was, we went into our shell and nearly conspired to throw away a two goal advantage.

The first half started brightly and it was clear from the off that the opposition lacked the pace and dynamism that we had seen a week earlier with Old Whits. When we passed the ball around, showed patience and switched the point of attack, we were in full control. Our frustration was largely aimed at ourselves as we were unable to make the final pass count. On one such occasion Chris Porter singled himself out as the guilty party calling himself a, “stupid *******, ****”. It’s unusual for Ports’ comments to be met with unanimous agreement from the side but on this occasion everyone agreed, particularly when the umpire brandished a green card! Cue a ‘conversation’ with the umpire which proved to be every bit as entertaining. The umpire pointed out that there were people watching and that the fruity language was inappropriate. Chris pointed out that it was, “hardly the ******* San Siro” with four people on the sidelines including two of our subs!

When the game resumed, Chris O’Neil Dunne was very solid at the back and marshalled the Old Eds attackers well alongside the ever-reliable Jon Heard. Rob Merry may not be the fastest forward in the league but his patience and control on the ball was influential throughout and we were able to make a number of bright attacks. It was half way through the period that one such attack led to a short corner and James Bents was on hand to cleanly sweep the ball into the net following a neat move. The remainder of the first half was largely uneventful and we were comfortable in attack and only really looked vulnerable when caught dozing once or twice on the break.

Going into half time in front is something of a novelty this season (!) but it was clear that to take the maximum points away, we would need to score first after the break. It was fantastic to have Cookie in the side and he showed that there is no substitute for pace on the right wing, showing up his opposite number time and again. Having started brightly, some tidy inter-play from Rob Merry resulted in an attack up the left side. Neil Grimes picked up the ball outside the circle and showed that the studio class of old is still there, beating at least three players before calmly slotting the ball home. It really was a fine piece of finishing and allowed us to get two clear early on. We continued to dominate the game for the remainder but in addition to some fine flowing attacking hockey, we conspired to play our worst hockey of the season in patches. Our press, which had been so dominant in the first half, was suddenly vulnerable and Old Eds scored an opportunist but well-worked goal on the break to take it to 2-1.

Having been on the wrong end of a clear infringement which was not blown up, Neil did a ‘Porter’ and made every effort to stop the opposition player from passing (stick in stomach, leg in crotch, hand in face!). Unsatisfied with simply impersonating Chris in the challenge, he also did a ‘Porter’ follow up, immediately self-passing and setting off claiming the free our way (the sign of a guilty man). The umpire wasn’t convinced at all and pulled his yellow card out.

We started to panic a little and the calm passing of the first 50 minutes was replaced by too many long balls and a reluctance to hold onto the ball. For some unknown reason, the umpire kept Neil off the pitch for 15 minutes which didn’t help the cause and the end result was some nervous final moments. We were able to hold on and a relieved skipper called the ‘three cheers’ at the end. Again our keeper, Ross, made some fantastic saves in goal and everyone showed some real guts to grind the result out. Looking back on the final 20 minutes, it’s clear that we can’t afford to throw the ball away as often as that again but if we can re-create the attacking guile shown in the coming weeks, there is no reason why we cannot make our way up the table. All in all, it was a great relief to get our first victory of the campaign. Thanks to all the boys for a tremendous effort on the day - let’s keep this momentum up! Tom Merry

3rd XI 1-1 Epsom
We turned out late on Saturday afternoon against an Epsom side who were currently residing a few places in front of us in the league. It started off and you could see that Epsom were an experienced well drilled side. Unfortunately we seemed to have a bit of a hangover from our grass experience of the previous week and were still playing as if we were on it.

The game was pretty much end to end but not a lot of chances were being experienced from either side. James debuting for us in goal was only kept busy vocally marshalling his defence of Jock, Stuey, Armo and Tim. We were looking pretty strong at the back and despite a couple of early mild scares didn’t look like we would be penetrated. With a couple of players back with us up front, Bruce and Andy, we seemed to take a while to get our flow with this only really occurring in the second half. The midfield of Chaz (whose comments about his level of touch are unprintable) Abs, Dunx and Tissy held strong and seemed to get better as the match went on. The fact that we went into halftime 1-0 down was only down to what seemed like a fluky goal. Whether the Epsom attacker intended to carry out a multi juggle with the ball in dinking it over James is debatable but is was enough to give them the lead.

The halftime talk consisted mainly of trying to ensuring that we improved our ball retention and stopped giving away cheap ball. This was duly performed and it did not take long for us to pull level with a finely executed goal by Andy which left the Epsom Goalie with little chance. We definitely had the better of the second half and were unfortunate not to have achieved a winner. With Ed coming off the bench in place of the injured Andy he was unlucky not to slot one past the Epsom keeper despite some good runs into the box. Furthermore we were unlucky not to get the winner when a well worked move ended with a 3 on 1 chance which could just not be converted. James had a relatively quiet 2nd half but was called into action for one good save. The match ended with the 1-1 result which leaves us still in 5th in the league but only 2 points off 2nd place. If we can emulate the performance of the 2nd half there is no reason that we can’t get somewhere in this league. Thanks go to Martin for umpiring us once again but I thought it was a bit early for the Haloween mask. Nigel Hawes

Ladies XI 6-0 Cheam
With an early start and mild conditions meant that we had to compose ourselves and get motivated as soon as the first whistle was blown.

Early into the game Vikki Mottram scored our first goal, a ball which almost apologised as it crept into the goal through a sea of gawping defenders, motivating us and setting the pace for the rest of the match. We continued positively, remained composed and kept our focus which lead to our second goal, which came off one of Cheam’s defenders. With a determined Cheam we had to push ourselves to keep possession. With excellent team work and some superb passing we scored our third and fourth before half time.

The second half Cheam pushed harder to break through, however with our high motivation to raise our goal difference we gave as good as we got, scoring twice more. We just had to win by as many goals as we could! It was the great work and excellent marking of the defence that left Cheam barely able to break for a goal opportunity, leaving Julia almost completely redundant throughout the seventy minutes. Cheam seemed to crack physically under the pressure - losing defender when struck by her own player and another soon after in a collision - as injury time became a regular occurrence.

It seemed to be really humid but with our determination we showed everyone what we are capable of and with Old Georgians next weekend we need to work together like we did on Saturday and come back to TD with another three points in the bag! Rewa Gonzalez-Granda

Old Reigatians 5-1 4th XI
Report to follow.

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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Winning messy

The 1st XI returned to winning ways after two draws with a 3-2 win at Old Midwhitgiftians in a game David Knapp admitted was “our worst performance of the season”. The 2nd XI turned the form book on its head with a battling 2-2 draw against league leaders Old Whitgiftians, our first points of the season. The 3rd XI overcame the almost forgotten fun of playing on grass to beat bottom side Spencer 1-0, the side’s first back-to-back wins in more than two years. The 4th XI beat Leatherhead 3-0 with all the goals coming in the first 20 minutes. The Vets beat Cheam 2-0.A diving Chris Porter nets our first goal in the 2nd XI's 2-2 draw with league leaders Old Whitgiftians
Click here for this week's match photos

Old Midwhitgiftians 2-3 1st XI
Our worst performance of the season but three valuable points against OMW's who have always made life difficult for us.

A few shuffles of the pack gave us our starting line up and as with the last few weeks we played well for 20 minutes, poorly for the next 20 and then regained our momentum for the last 15. Two goals to the good early on courtesy of two sharp finishes from man of the match Gavin should have been the platfrom for a convincing win and but for one smart save Trickster had nothing to do in the first half where we had been pegged back to 2-1 following a crisp strike from the OMW's only short of the half and indeed the match.

In essence we lost our pattern and played the ball long instead of keeping it short and sharp as we had done when on top. The home side also pressed more having gained considerable confidence from their strike. We missed chances to wrap up the game and paid the penalty when a stroke was conceded and the scores were level, Trickster unlucky to see the ball dribble home after guessing right.

Fortunately Dan P was on hand to nudge the ball home with 15 to go and although hanging on at times again, had bags of chances to kill of the game but making bad choices and suffering as a result of some bad basics. A couple of professional tackles went unpunished by the umpires in our ranks although Rippers took a yellow for the team late on and we came away with three valuable points to put us right back in the mix.

Excellent game from Gavin and another good performance from both CV and Dan which will make selction interesting with CB, Cato, James W ood and Jonny H back next week. David Knapp

2nd XI 2-2 Old Whitgiftians
This week's match photos
Yet again we found ourselves playing the league leaders – that’s 3 times out of our first 4 games (and before they picked up points against us!!). We welcomed back our old friends Old Whitgiftians. They moved up the 2 leagues with us and last year saw 2 epic games against them – coming back to gain a draw after being 3-0 down after 15 mins at home and then beating them by a couple of goals at their place later in the season.

We had the advantage this week of a reasonably settled side (by our standards anyway) – not that you would have known it in the first 10 minutes when we invited them to repeatedly pour down our right hand side. The pressure eventually led to a well struck short corner which the skipper missed on the post. 1-0 down after 10 minutes was not the start we had hoped for. This did seem to galvanise us though and we started to string some passages of good hockey together. JP Davidson replaced Rob Merry to play in his favoured position of right back and did a fine job throughout. We played some good hockey but once again gave the ball away too much in their half and rarely entered the d – which continues to put us under unnecessary pressure. It has to be said that they were putting in some fairly average tackling which they were lucky to get away with (more of that later). A quick transfer round the back (probably for the first time in the game) provided some space down the left. Several quick, precise passes cut them apart and Porter did the rest.

Half time at 1-1 and things were looking good. Unfortunately we got the second half of to a disastrous start – Jon Heard, who up until that point had had a fairly faultless game, had a wobble to many in the middle and their striker duly accepted a very kind gift – the result a three-on-one and ultimately a goal. At this point our heads could have dropped but encouragingly we picked up the pace a bit and started to attack more. Austin Vowles, a late replacement for Bruce who had been pinched by the 1st XI, working hard to create something. A rare trip to the d led to a short corner and Rob Merry, who had come on up front, was on hand to blast the rebound in from the penalty spot – 2-2.

What followed was a real battle, reminiscent of our tussles with Old Whits last year. A bad tackle or nine too many from them led to the first yellow for them. We failed to really take advantage of this and almost inevitably started to put in some bad challenges ourselves – leading to a yellow for Chris Porter. The backs worked hard – Chris O’Neil-Dunne making an excellent save on the line form a short corner and Ross Kingsnorth making several other fine saves. When we did pick up the pace and really attack them we looked dangerous. A long run up the left and through the middle from Rob Merry drew a foul just in front of the D – nothing much but then it had been one of four committed in the same passage of play. The result was a short corner and another card to their player – perhaps a little harsh but consistent.

Even with a man down they continued to press. We still looked dangerous on the break but lacked the penetration to get into their d much. A clash of sticks in an otherwise good tackle by James Bents meant he saw yellow with about five minutes to go, the result of us once again needlessly loosing the ball in their half. So we had to play out the last three minutes a man down. Unfortunately we conspired to concede a short corner with a minute to go but Ross made another fine save. The whistle was in truth probably a blessing for both sides and certainly the umpires!

2-2 was probably a fair reflection of the game – resulting in Old Whits dropping their first points of the season and us winning our first points of the season! The next four weeks see us play three out of the four bottom sides – which have become must-win games for us, even at this early stage of the season. With decent availability and hopefully a player or two from the 1st XI we should be ok and hopefully we will be able to provide some players to the 3rd XI to aid their important quest for promotion. Rob Merry

Spencer Harlequins 0-1 3rd XI
Congratulations to us all on grinding out another win by managing to beat Spencer Harlequins 1-0. This may not sound the most amazing win, but to take any result where we score more than the opposition whilst playing on grass is good enough for me. The game this weekend felt as much of a lottery even though I feel we would have wiped the floor with them on Astro.

Our Third win of the season has taken us up to the heady heights of 5th in the league. Congratulations to new recruit Ed Brown for scoring the all-important goal. Nigel Hawes

4th XI 3-0 Leatherhead
The prodigious 4’s turned up to a cold & damn OC ground somewhat down on the numbers readied for battle on Friday evening, (various dubious reasons ensued!) Thanks go to stalwarts Andy “the Duracell Bunny” Eve and Howard “the Interceptor” Cruthers for stepping in to boost the squad.
Tactics were set as we studied an oppo with only three goals conceded in four games, whilst they sat in third place with us in fourth.

Play started on a slick & greasy surface with some good pressure and fast runs from Leatherhead for the first ten minutes. There somewhat immovable king-pin hogging the top of the D, looking to provide some deft touches to fast young oppo running in from deep. A strong defensive line from Kevin “the Power Tackle” Smith, Robin “Longarms” Crumby and “I’m not Nasty” Nick Aston, quelled most of the early pressure.

In a break from our 16, an irrepressible Grant “Dodgy Chicken Legs” Archer carried the ball quickly with James “Slick” Bish to bash the Oppo D. Eventually the ball was passed from the right, for Archie to finish neatly across the keeper at the right post. Whether this galvanised us even more, or Leatherhead head’s had dropped who knows, but we continued the pressure with some fantastic running up our right flanks from Dom “Skin’em Gonzales” Tucker!! Perseverance was rewarded as we set up for a shortie which ran right to Dom who slotted it deftly into the corner. 2-0.

As the oppo rallied slightly, moving on by him there was a loud memorable guttural sqawk as jetsetter Stevie “Ohhh Nick Griffin!! I will NOT be beaten like that,” Harmer sped earnestly back across the pitch in a resplendent effort to get the ball! He did. More resilient pressure in Leatherhead's D saw an Archie nutmeg go just wide. Another shortie resulted in a foot stopping save, and a P flick was duly awarded. Step forward Chris “I did miss my breakfast with my delightful conquest from Friday nights night out” Bents to power home a delightful stroke to the top of the net! Some post goal sloppiness saw the Oppo in our D for a shortie, strongly blocked by Power Tackles. Four or five first half attacks were stopped dead due to the new rules not quite sinking in just yet.

The second half resumed with the oppo applying good pressure, but perhaps they had a little more wind as we struggled to regain the control we had for the last 20 minutes of the first half. Great link up on the right with Chris, Andy & Dom to set us up for another shortie, but alas we could not convert. A nose-bleeding run from Longarms Crumby, linking up with Gonzales and Nick “Ever-ready & Roaring” Jocelyn saw a decision of question, as a possible shortie transpired to be an Oppo 16?
It must have been correct though as Martin “I’ll only umpire if you bring me cakes!” Williamson took his legendary firm control!

The last ten minutes of the game saw a fairly even match, with our last action coming as we took another shortie, which found Chicken Legs heady with excitement as he struck for the left corner, but forgetting to move his right foot, yelped in sheer pain as a his calf spasmed in anger with all that running forward. Or maybe it was just cramp!

An excellent team performance providing solid midfield link-ups, strong rearguard defence and superb speedy attacks. Monday Stats see the OC4’s sitting second.
Smithers. Nigel Cakeman Smith

Veterans XI 2-0 Cheam
So we are at TD on a very mild, overcast afternoon to take on a good Cheam side. Tommy sets up the side as a fairly rigid 442. Cheam start well, maintaining possession without really hurting our stout defence (can use any interpretation here). Cheam did however create a number of short corners but these were well defended (more of this later). We finished the 1st half with a few good moves and half-time came along with a scintillating 0-0 score-line, fairly reflecting the play.

The sun came out during the half-time chat and Tommy/Andy correctly assessed we lacked width in attack and were consequently playing to Cheam’s strengths - so they changed the formation by playing two left-halves. I know this sounds rather strange but it worked – Cheam’s most effective attacker was their ‘right-wing’ playing high up – so the 1st left half man-marked this player while the second maintained width. I think we ended up with a sort of 352 which would sometimes be 3142 or 361 or 3241, Benitez et al - eat your heart out.

The result of this tactical masterstroke enabled us to take more control of the midfield and put together some nice passages of play. This was assisted by Myles being able to find space and get on the ball to hurt Cheam as second forward with the tireless Judge Sleeman

To cut an already long story short – we managed to score two goals from open play by picking up loose balls in the ‘D’ and firing home – Myles & Clive – the best of pals. Apart from everyone putting in a good shift, we should not forget the passage of play where being 2-0 up, we decided to run the clock down by conceding a number of short corners in succession – all of which were ‘run down’ by the amazing Jon Gray– in total he must have done 10 sprints to the top of the circle – outstanding effort.

However, there was one champagne moment when the Cheam striker having again been ‘run down’ by John hit an absolute screamer past the excellent Shanks – going at shoulder height into the net when Matt produced an amazing save by upper-cutting the shot over the bar.

This led to the main debating point in the bar – the decision by TC was a 16 – due to this being the first shot, there is an argument that the striker had attempted to get a form of shot away which was stopped by Jon and also - due to the defence having touched the ball in the ‘D’ – first shot rule is eliminated? As you can see the writer hasn’t a clue and would like clarification.

To sum up at last – an enjoyable game against a good opposition played in good spirit where I suppose the result could have gone every which way. And a final note of admiration for two fine demonstrations of CF play where late on, the Judge ran ~ 50 yds on two occasions to beat the Cheam full-back and get shots in. Andy Eve

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Goals at the bottom end, draws at the top

The 1st XI were held 2-2 by Southampton in a cracking game, while the Ladies also held Purley by the same scoreline. There were goals galore at the bottom end of the club - the 3rd XI had the novel experience of handing out a drubbing as they thrashed Teddington 6-1, while the 4th XI made it 13 goals in two weeks with a 7-1 rout at Old Georgians. The Vets beat HAC 5-02, but the 2nd XI's woes continued as they went down 0-5 to the same opposition.

1st XI 2-2 Southampton 1
The hard work to achieve promotion and regenerate our first team was made all worth while when playing in games like that against Southampton on Saturday. We knew that they are going to be the side to beat this year being a young and efficient team and a large club. Indeed it was Southampton who condemned us to the drop 5 years ago and from all accounts were unlucky not to be in the A division of the league at the end of last season.

As with last week we came out of the traps fast but unlike last week Southampton were intent on playing a similar free and fast running game. We shaded the first 15 or so minutes and were rewarded with a Gavin Adair goal with his touching home a superb ball in from Eds, continued to press but found the opposition keeper in inspired form, making 3 or 4 top class saves.By half time we were 2 - 1 down with Southampton deserving their lead. 2 well finished goals follwoing a period of intense pressure. We could have been furtehr behind but a couple of chances went begging.

As the second half progressed our squad, well marshalled by David Cresswell dominated and it was no surprise when man ofthe match CV finished off one of the moves of a number of seasons that invloved most of our team and saw 3 crisp transfers of the ball from side to side. From here on it seemd as if there would only be one winner as we retained the ball well and snuffed out Southampton's midfield domination that had caused us problems in the first half. Not to be denied though, Southampton looked very dangerous on the break, forced a number of short corners and created chances that they could not take. Trickster made 2 good saves but it was the Southampton keeper who saved the away side a point and denied us 2 more. Perhaps we should have made more of the chances we had and there was a feeling of 2 points lost rather than one gained.

The match ended in controversy but respect to Sean who later held his hand up.

The biggest disappointment of the day was the lack of urgency on some occasions when Cressers called the subs which are called for a reason and at the correct time. The positive side was a good solid performance by new guy Dan Poulson, the Woods and Cato with Nick L putting in an excellent second half after being under pressure in the first and a strong OC second half performance with us taking the game to Southampton.

Arguably we could have nine points out of nine but equally Southampton may have an argument that had they taken a two-goal lead into the second half by converting one of their chances after their second goal they could have gone down the A3 with all three points. David Knapp

Purley Walcountians 2-2 Ladies XI
These days you hear so much about how motivational talks by coaches and managers before a game can inspire a team. With a tricky away game against an unbeaten Purley team everyone waited to hear what words would be used to get us ready - and were promptly told by goalie that he had “no faith” in us (sure we believe you when you claim you just got your words a bit mixed up...).

The opposition were full of fast young players and they used that to their advantage early on to score a breakaway goal. However, instead of letting our heads drop within two minutes we were level, some excellent play down the left-hand side saw the ball eventually break free to Katie in the area who coolly slotted the ball away. From then on we took the game to Purley and put them under immense pressure especially when we used the self-hit rule so effectively getting attacks moving whilst they were still getting organised. Jax was unlucky to hit the post with a shot. Eventually we were rewarded for our hard work a strong drive down the right and into the D by Snoops who crossed for Sarah Mann to score. As Purley looked to get back into the game they worked a quick 1-2 from a short corner and were back level prior to half time.

The second half was close, with both teams having chances, but neither managing to convert them. As the game went on more of the decisions favoured the home team, but everyone shrugged it off and got on with playing their own game. If it hadn't been for an excellent save from the Purley keeper we would have gone ahead. At the back the defensive line of Hels, Rosie, Lucy and Rewa dealt well with a number of Purley short corners which ensured they never got a clear chance from any of them.

Everyone played well and on another day we'd have got all 3 points, but to be truthful a draw was a fair result. Julia Dann

3rd XI 6-2 Teddington Oaks
With an early start to the game and only 11 on the pitch the first five minutes looked as if we had not yet woken up and we were lucky to keep it at 0-0. Nevertheless as the first half progressed we seemed to settle and started putting greater and greater pressure on our very young opposition. This pressure finally paid off with Louis Strover scoring a goal with his normal precision after about 15 minutes. This was quickly followed up by a second scored by Jamal to give us a 2-0 lead. We had our tails up and were really starting to play some great hockey. There were brilliant performances all over the pitch with the defence having a strong performance … with Jock Vickers moving back to sweeper where he is probably most suited, a big welcome back to Abs Janmohamed who really gave us a solidity which we had been missing, CD who seems to have made right back his position after today’s performance and Ollie who had got his focus back having his best game of the season so far. Unfortunately Ollie managed to pull a hamstring midway through the first half, but with the possibility of going down to 10 men he soldiered on. Towards the end of the half Teddington managed to pull a goal back with a slick move that had the defence and myself scratching our heads as to where it had come from. But on the upside we went into halftime with a lead of 2-1 and a confidence that we could go on and achieve our second win of the season.

At halftime we changed our structure to push Ollie up front up in order to protect his hamstring. The second half started well with the midfield staying really strong… Ross also had probably his best game this season, Dougie definitely proved that he is getting back to his very best, Preston despite being out of position made a big difference in the middle as the conduit between defence and attack actually existed today. We were able to put a lot of pressure on the Teddington defence even though their 11 year old keeper was doing some good work (yes I did say 11 year old !!!), They could not hold out forever and our latest makeshift attacker Ollie was able to take our lead up to 3-1. We did experience a number of scares and Teddington did get the score back to 3-2 with a well taken short corner. At this point Teddington did push hard and caught us out a couple of times but with a combination of well timed tackles by various members of the defence and a couple of saves from myself (even if I do say so!) we were able to maintain our lead. However eventually Louis was able to craft a 4th for us and at 4-2 we didn’t really look back. Before the end Jamal was able to add his second and Preston was able to slot a well deserved goal to make our tally 6. It has to be said that this was a great all round team effort as we concentrated on playing our game and used our experience to get the better of a very young, fit and skilful Teddington. I am extremely chuffed as, even whilst I don’t wish to admit this, having captained the side for a year and this being the start of my second season it was the first time that the team had won while I was playing. I personally blame the keeper!!! Hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for the second. Nigel "At Last A Winner" Hawes

Old Georgians 1-7 4th XI
This week, Mrs Amy Oxo provided the team with OC orange cup cakes after their match against the Old Georgians. The cup cake, like the 4th team, is having a bit of a resurgence. Back in the 80s they were very cool, but they have been overlooked for the last couple of decades. In 2009 they are definitely back.

The cup cake is sometimes known as a fairy cake. But there were no fairies on the pitch in Weybridge this week ... well other than the ever camp Harmer (maverick) and Archer (iceman). Both of whom had been caught singing to Girls Aloud on the journey to the pitch (Boyzone had been taken from the cd player out of respect).

The cup cake is made of flour, sugar and butter. The solid formation of the cupcake is provided by the flour. The central formation of the 4th team, Smith, Crumby and Harmer, Shakir started the game on a strong foot. With driving runs through the middle, one of which lead to a trademark roof breaker by Jemal to open up the scoring. It all goes it bit hazy after this point, I know Shakir got another 2, Bishop 1 and Dom 1, the others I forget.... - at half time it was 6-1

Any chef will tell you, if you want to make anything taste better, just add a bit more butter. And this is what the OCs did during the second half. By adding another goal to the tally from.....again I forget. With the Old Georgians rallying, it nearly felt as if they had more players on the pitch.

The sweetness of the cupcake is provided by the sugar. Our sugar daddies of Kevin, Crumby and Archer stood strong through the second half where Old Georgians started to make a number of attacks. Particular mention should go to Kevin for some fantastic tackles when he was the last man standing.

The final score stood at 7-1 and we move into a strong fourth position in the league. During post-match chat our captain this week, Grant Archer was overheard making reference to Diego Maradona's foul mouth tirade this week. "Today we are in the 4th place in the league, with help from nobody but with honour. To all of you who did not believe in us, and I apologise to all the women here, you can eat my cup cake and keep on eating." Mark Oxbrough Harmer, you're fired

HAC 2-5 Veterans
OC Vets followed up the glory of their "never-say-die" victory at Tring last week with an emphatic win away to HAC on an enjoyable afternoon played in great spirit in leafy Dulwich. This performance probably lacked the ‘derring-do / Guns of Navarone’ quality of the Tring triumph but was probably a more impressive overall performance. The outcome was never seriously in doubt and each time that HAC threatened to climb back into the match OCs found another gear and, more importantly, another goal. The 5-2 scoreline1 did not flatter the away side and this against a decent HAC side.

Graced by the classy and tireless Howie and the ever-menacing and powerful Gavin Rowlands this Vets performance was built around a strong midfield performance, the ball moving well through the middle of the pitch courtesy of another impressive display from Tommy ‘what-no-hat-trick-this-week’ Trinder. As ever the most effective passing proved to be the short ball in and out of the flanks and Jon Gray once again proved his worth, ever-dangerous down the right. At half-time OCs led 2-0, the second being a classic ‘fox-in-the-box’ effort from the sparkling Stuart Slemen following the all-important first goal, a short-range thwack by Tony Jones created by a neat pass from the aforesaid Slemen, surely a classic case of ‘poacher turned goal-maker’. . Jury service is clearly agreeing with him!

Half-time was interesting. Wade Pollard umpiring clearly had a plane to catch because he reduced the interval to just a few seconds. The shortened break proved long enough however for the HAC to neck a bottle of champagne between them – a magnificent moment and one that perhaps contributed to a level playing field given that a number of the OC team, having arrived rather earlier than expected, had ‘warmed up’ for the big occasion by getting comfy over a pint!

The second half was a roller-coaster. A powerful penalty corner strike from Andy Loates was deflected by Gavin to extend the lead, HAC nicked one back only for Andy Loates to touch a pass in after we had moved the ball around with four passes from a short corner to restore the three-goal cushion with a well taken goal. The team was served well at the back by Loates and Speers and Matt Olley in goal didn’t put a foot wrong notwithstanding the lack of clean sheet. In truth HAC’s second goal was the pick of the match, a Maradona style run half the pitch from their centre forward before a crisp finish that left our keeper no chance. We went immediately down the other end to seal the match with our 5th when Gavin Rowlands scored his second from a well worked short corner involving wall passes off defenders shins. Messrs Butcher and Eve meanwhile patrolled the left hand side to great effect. We even had the luxury of Osborn came off the bench in the second half to dazzle and help rub salt into HAC wounds.

We left the match in good spirits but with insufficient time for most of us to enjoy a post-match beer at the Greyhound, the lure of the evening Quins Toulouse game accounting for much of the team, another victory for an away side, but this one an unwanted result and no doubt reduced the OC Quins contingent to a bout of beer-based consolation! And anyway we can all reflect on a very satisfying afternoon’s hockey. It is official, OC Vets are now an a winning streak. David Burles

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