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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Match report March 27 2010

The 1st XI gained the point needed to secure the league title, beating Andover 3-2 to give retiring captain Eds Copleston back-to-back promotions to end his tenure. The Ladies bade farewell to Vikki Mottram with a 7-0 drubbing of Tulse Hill & Dulwich, Vikki and Jax Waite both scoring hat-tricks, while the 2nd XI clinched their own league place with a spirited 4-2 win at Oxted. Only the 4th XI spoilt the party, going down 1-5 at Aldershot.

1st XI 3-2 Andover
Click here for match photosEnd of an era at TD with Eds possibly playing his final home game for the 1s and David Cresswell his last as coach before he cuts his Cranleigh links in readiness for the new challenge at Radley but a day that heralded another win and the securing of the league title. Southampton drew so we are now a huge 8 points ahead with a game to play. Eds said just after the break that we had to continue to win as others would drop points but none of could have envisaged Yateley and Southampton dropping so many so quickly.

Although not a vintage performance it was enough to excite Mani Kochar next year's coach watching us for the first time and we did just enough to see off a spirited challenge from struggling Andover. This time round their keeper did not produce the heroics that kept us at bay last game but equally we did not produce as many clear-cut chances. Andover did look dangerous on the break, which is how they caught us out twice in the first half, on each occasion to draw level.

We were a little depleted with Gavin looking and feeling very off colour, Cookiey seemingly unfit but at the 11th hour indicating he could have played and the Woods away in South Africa but still had enough to win the three points on offer. In the first half we were extremely disjointed, but from our first corner Knapp rolled home only for Andover to draw level when we were caught high up the pitch. Rory deflected home Eds off-target shot to put us 2-1 up, but before the break Andover scored the goal of the game finishing off a four-touch move that carved us open.

Having quite rightly been told by DC that we looked like a bunch of spoilt bickering school boys we played with greater patience in the second half, knocking the ball about and eventually scoring via a fierce CV shot from a right slip at our last short - the correct move that had been called ahead of our last three shorts in the first half. Although less troubled by the swift counter in the second period, Andover did have a couple of half chances at 2-2 albeit our squandering a series of chances.

A 10% increase in our fitness levels will more than likely increase our playing ability by 20% and provided we set out a clear plan and strategy from late June onwards we should be confident of being able to challenge the top teams in the league above next season.

Thank you David Cresswell for your coaching that has brought successive promotions but more importantly to Eds who seven years ago took over the captaincy as we slid down the leagues, wore his heart on his sleeve for those seven years and has been rewarded with skippering two promotion sides, and thus far an undefeated side in this season's campaign. A fitting end to his leadership will be to win the last game on April 10 v City of Portsmouth and be the first OC hockey skipper to lead a league side that remains unbeaten for the whole season. David Knapp

Ladies 7-0 Tulse Hill & Dulwich
Click here for match photos
Although there was nothing at stake – we were guaranteed third place before the start – the side was as up for this game as any during the campaign, wanting to round off a superb season with a win as well as give Vikki Mottram, retiring from full-time hockey after two decades (sorry Viks) an appropriate send-off. And that they did, in some style.

Tulse Hill must have wondered what on earth was going on as they found themselves six down within 17 minutes, on the receiving end of some of the best passing hockey seen at TD all year. Jax Waite, pushed up front for the day, scored a hat-trick in four minutes, and either side of that Vikki signed off with a hat-trick of her own. Her third goal was so typical of the skills that had made her such an outstanding player, a mazy dribble that left defenders floundering and then a rifled shot past a bewildered keeper.

Tulse Hill, to their credit, kept fighting and as Goalie made constant changes – only one forced on him when Emma departed with blood flowing freely from what turned out to be a minuscule gash on her nose, another as punishment for Sarah Mann for one reverse flick too many! The defence held firm, Rosie Marriott as utterly commited as she has been all season – she has cuts, scars and black eyes that would leave Knapp wincing – and Helen Hawes determined if slightly hungover. But credit to Hels; with her husband and Zac sent away, she enjoyed a night on the tiles, a 2am fishfinger sandwich, a 4am wake-up having poured water all over herself and her bed, and yet she was still there before almost anyone.

In the second half we again dominated and could have added another dozen, but Tulse Hill’s keeper pulled off some good saves, Snoopy, Hels and Vikki fired wide from close range, and the only addition to the score came from the patched-up Emma, while Tux and May caused constant problems with their running. All in all, a delight to watch.

At the end a tearful Vikki was presented with flowers and was hugged into submission by team-mates. We have to hope her promise to play the odd game if needed will be utilised more than she has planned. She's simply too good to spend Saturdays at Tescos.

A final note. I have umpired close to half the girls’ games this season and I would like to say what a pleasure it always is to do so. Relegated last season, its was always going to be tough, but under Sarah and Goalie they have played some exquisite hockey, the occasional period of horrible stuff as well, but have always been cheerful and friendly, and their commitment to training and socialising puts the men to shame. All in all, they are a real credit to the club. Martin Williamson

Oxted 2-4 2nd XI
We finally cast aside any lingering threat of relegation with a spirited victory away at mid-table Oxted. Aside from the first five minutes in which our customary slow start saw us go one down, we actually turned in one our best performances of the campaign and ended up comfortable winners.

We went into the game with a brand new front line consisting of our youngest OC, 15-year-old Giles and Cooky (welcomed back with open arms from 1s duty), who gave us a real edge in attack. Cooky with a brace and Giles with a calmly taken penalty stroke. Our midfield was also bolstered thanks to new HR-and-recruitment-manager Tom Merry who brought in Tom Quy and the ginger Ferret. Ferret, although short of match fitness, was a clear asset, controlling much of the game either in central or the right side of midfield. He will be kicking himself for not getting on the score sheet himself after a couple of clear chances.
Thankfully we scored immediately after Oxted and were 2-1 up by the break in what was a fairly tight first half. The only other key incident to note in was an awesome hissy fit between myself and Selbs. I’m embarrassed, olive branch offered and accepted, we move on.

It was crucial to score the next goal after the break and we did after, dare I say it, a slickly-taken short corner, deflected in by Ferret. With confidence rising we started to play some pretty attractive stuff in parts and managed to pick up a fourth after a sweeping move through Cooky. To be honest if we had attacked more down the flanks we probably could have had a few more goals given their best defender was doing a fairly good job of blocking us off down the centre, but I am nit-picking. The more pressure we applied the more unstuck Oxted became and their frustration boiled over near the end with their key playmaker receiving his marching orders for sustained petulant chat. Tut tut.

We did concede towards the end which was unfortunate as we defended for the most part pretty well – especially when you factor in the nutter who was playing up front for the oppo – scary stuff I tell you. So once again well done to Jon Heard and the brothers Merry.

All in all a very good display, with our league status confirmed we must now start looking ahead to next season and what we need to do to be more competitive in this league. If we can hold on to some players and bring a few new faces in then I don’t see why we can be in the top half of the league next year.

Men of the match = ferret/giles/cookiey

Dicks – me for the hissy / Nick for getting sent off meaning Tom only got the 10 minutes under his belt. Chris Porter

Aldershot & Farnham 5-1 4th XI
An overcast day in Farnham saw the fourths struggle to find their groove. A tactical change saw Robin "usually central defense" Crumby moved to centre forward to mix things up a bit.

The first half saw the "Shots" score 2 well worked goals on the break. The second half saw injuries to Howard's ankle and Oxo's head (he hit himself in the forehead with the ball leaving a Harry POtteresque scar).

Three more goals on the break followed with only Dom managing to get a consolation goal for us. Not a great day for the fourths but all credit to a well disciplined opposition. We will contemplate our remaining fixtures whilst enjoying an easter egg or two over the break. Back to the defense for Mr Crumby ...

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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Match reports January 30 2010

A last-minute goal from David Knapp helped the 1st XI draw 4-4 at third-placed Southampton, a result which leaves us in second with a game in hand on leaders Yateley. The Ladies also maintained their promotion push with a 1-1 draw at home to Purley Walcountians, but it was another disappointing day for the 2nd XI who went down 1-4 to leaders HAC. The 3rd XI game at Leatherhead was called off minutes before the start because of frost, while the 4th XI beat Old Georgians 1-0, their first goal in seven weeks. The Vets drew 2-2 at Cheam.

Southampton 1st XI 4-4 1st XI
Another tight game against Southampton but a result that is more use to us than for our hosts. Once again we could have come away with all three points, but so could Southampton.

Missing Rippers, DP played in the mid field role. We controlled the first 15 minutes without reward only to go one down against the run of play and having not made the most out of six short corners we had won before their first goal. For some reason our heads dropped a little and Southampton had their best spell of the first half in the ten minutes after they scored. We did however pull level when Johnny Hunter with his best drag-flick of the season scored.

We missed a couple of good chances in the second half and gave away a careless short corner which Southampton fortuitously squeezed home. At this point the game was going from end to end but we equalised with Danny's goal of the season and then took the lead when Cookiey slapped home a loose ball from the short from a tight angle which was an excellent finish. We then had a guilt edged chance to wrap up the game with 10 minutes to go but Knapp inexplicably put the ball wide when it was easier to score. Two more careless defensive errors gave Southhampton two more short corners that they converted, with the second of these and their fourth goal coming four minutes from the end.

We upped our game and with 30 seconds left, Knapp deflected home a short corner strike to give us a share of the points. Perhaps we were too anxious as we didn't play with the same control as last week but by not losing our destiny is still in our own hands. David Knapp

Ladies XI 1-1 Purley Walcountians
With snow on the ground on waking up, I thought it might be back to a boring Saturday with no hockey but luckily we got the go-ahead to play on the incredibly hard, concrete-style, astro. Good thing we had the skill to control the bouncing balls.

The game started with some argie bargie and protestations on umpire decisions from the opposition, which Martin dealt with in true form and nipped in the bud early. We came out hard, having been pysched up by Goalie. We pressurised Purley and kept pushing up. They had a couple of breakthroughs in the first half which Julia dealt with like a pro. Our constant high work rate paid off near the end of the first half when Gadget caught Nicki's eye and made a sweet pass from just outside the D which Nicki picked up and cleanly executed to put us 1-0 up.

Unfortunately a slight lapse in concentration in the first minute of the second half meant they quickly equalised with a slickly-taken goal. Though we had a large measure of play and there were several opportunities, including a cracking shot from Snoops, we couldn't capitalise on our strong hold. The game finished 1-1.

...oh and we musn't forget that during this battle Gadget took a green card not just for our team but for the oppo too when Martin finally got fed up of everyone ignoring the 5 yard rule...Cheers Gadget!! Sarah Tucker

2nd XI 1-4 HAC
Report to follow.

4th XI 1-0 Old Georgians
The now-traditional post-match cakes failed to materialise (Nick Aston’s spluttering excuses failed to convince anyone) and although the game was played in glorious sunshine, the rock-hard surface made controlling the ball hard and neither side came to terms with the conditions. There were only three shots all match, all from us. One midway through the first half was well saved by the OG keeper, but the second prouced the only goal when a short-corner strike was only half saved and Atsushi was the quickest to the rebound. We defended solidly, Steve Harmer, in an unfamiliar position up front failed to make his usual impact, but in the end it didn’t matter as we took the points. The goal was our first since December 12, but since then we haven’t conceded one either. An interesting stat until you remember the cold snap meant this was only our second game since then.

Cheam 2-2 Veterans
Report to follow.

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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, 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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Monday, 20 April 2009

2nd XI secure Open League title

2nd XI 2-0 Surbiton
Match photos
In almost summer-like sunshine, the season finally ended with a 2-0 win over Surbiton for the 2nd XI, a result which gave us the Surrey Open League Premier Division title as well as promotion into what is now Surrey Division (although what it will be once the post-season-reshuffle dust settles nobody knows).

We started knowing we had to win to sneak past Old Whitgiftians for the first time all season, and with only Will Stephens missing from the usual line-up and a Surbiton side who were bottom, we were confident. Perhaps too much so. For the first 15 minutes we were dreadful, off the pace, not pressurising the opposition and looking as if we would struggle.

James Robson was called on to make a couple of saves as well as a timely interception, while at the other end we started producing shots but not on target. We gained a few shorts without threatening off any of them, while with Pies, making a welcome return for Surbiton, was always a danger as he sucked in defenders. Fortunately, he was left with little support, although he managed to earn a frustrated/bewildered Andy Duff a green card early on from a novice umpire.

Ten minutes before the break we got the breakthrough, Rob Merry rifling in an absolute bullet across the keeper from the right-side of the D. Rarely can he have hit the ball harder.

That settled us, and for the second half we controlled the game, with Robson’s only significant role being to earn a green card for abusing the distant umpire for a decision at the other end of the pitch.

Duff and Jon Heard dominated the defence, Duff even making a very rare surging run the length of the pitch, while the Merrys showed the good form they have been in all year. Chris Porter played as only he can – brilliant at times, combatitive at others, and happy to argue with players from either side. He was for once the innocent party when he accidentally clipped a defender in the face with his stick only be hauled off by Surbiton’s diminutive No. 10, who was clearly spoiling for a fight, as he bent over the prone player to apologise.

We could have had half a dozen, and Duncan Mottram deserved a goal for all his hard work but with only the keeper to beat, he undercut straight into his helmet for the least intentional save of the day. Minutes later the defence was finally stretched too far and Paul Acutt slammed the ball home after finding himself in acres of space in a move which started with a double foul from Duff on Pies which left him spreadeagled on the ground.

The rest was fairly unthreatening. Ed Breton, after a quiet first half, ended the season in the hustling, bustling, battling way he approaches every game (as well as the post-match BBQ), Neil Grimes carved holes in the right side of the Surbiton defence, and Dodie Khurshid briefly looked as if he might be on for his second goal in 19 seasons until David Knapp, taking a commanding/dictatorial touchline role, removed him from the fray. Preston Rutt looked in form until he received the most bewildering order of the day from Knapp who barked at him to “keep up” with Cookie.

The promotion secured, we enjoyed some champagne in the clubhouse and the celebrations went on late into the afternoon. It is quite possible Duff is still there.

The side deserved its success. We had only lost once all year - a miserable away day at Wanderers – and had taken eight points against the sides in second and third, with the two wins against them coming away from home. We undoubtedly benefited from the release of several stalwarts from the 1st XI but all blended in well and, crucially, it was an enjoyable season and a happy side. For that, Rob Merry deserves huge credit.

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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Match reports - March 21, 2009

Although a Rory Alexander goal five minutes from time secured the 1st XI a draw with leaders Wanderers, it was not enough to put the league in our hands, and we now have to win our remaining games and hope they slip up. The 2nd XI thumped Reigate Priory 5-0, and the Ladies recorded their second win in six days with a 2-0 victory over Tulse Hill. The 3rd XI went down 1-5 to Reigate, confirming their relegation, but the goals rained in at Aldershot where the 3rd XI lost 6-10 and at Surbiton where the Vets lost 2-8.

Click here for this week's photos

1st XI 2-2 Wanderers
A great day, great umpiring and a great game of hockey which was by far and away the best game we have played in all season and doubtless the best since we played against Wanderers 12 months ago and drew 2-2 on that occasion too. Both sides wanted a win, Wanderers to seal the league with two games to go and us to keep alive our faint hopes of winning the league. The first game of the season against Wanderers was one which we felt we had let slip having been 2-0 up and losing to the last hit of the game but there is no question that Wanderers will be going back up the A3 wondering how they failed to win the three points today

We knew the first 10 minutes would be crucial as Wanderers would not want to allow us a head start like last time and so it proved to be. Wanderers tore us apart in the first 10 and could easily have been two, maybe three up. However their shooting boots had been left at home with only two goals from their shot count of 27. We made a series of big tackles and for all their pressure and shots Trickster had very little to do with the shots either being blocked or being shoved wide. As the game wore on we came back into it and in the final analysis made our corners count with two from 10 whilst the oppo converted none from 15.

David Knapp had a good chance after 15, picking the ball up in front of the keeper, taking it wide but hitting the post when he should have done better and Rory, who scored both, failing to convert Adair's cross following his best run of the season down the left. That would have made it 2 - 0 at half time Rory having put us one up deflecting home Eds’ sweetly-struck shot. Our corners looked dangerous their keeper dealing with two Hunter powerflicks with ease but Wanderers threw huge aerials that continually released the pressure and gave us plenty to think about.

1 - 0 at half time should have been made two by Eds from the top of the D, Cookiey who hurried and snatched at a spanking through pass from Gavin and then again by Cookiey two minutes later who tried a reverse stick strike from the bye line when we had two at the top of the D waiting for a pull back with the goalie and last defender out of position.

A couple of minutes later Wanderers deservedly equalised with a quick free hit that was rolled home by the striker as we stopped, argued and then looked at the umpire as an excuse - unprofessional for what was a perfectly legitimate goal. Five minutes later an uncharacteristic error by our man of the season thus far, Cato, gave Wanderers a 2 on 1 against Trickster and we were up against it. Shades of December 6.

Not to be outdone we forced a short corner and an intricate move that was not quite off the training pitch enabled Rory to tap in from a foot and it remained at 2 - 2 for the last five minutes. Wanderers were without a doubt the happier at the end with a point but to have won the league we would have had to thump Wanderers and then have two weeks of strange results.

We wish Wanderers all the best next season and they have definitely been the best side in the league for arguably two years. My biggest complaint is to question why they lost the play off last season thus resulting in our having to play them this season !!

All to play for in the last two games with two wins securing us second spot. David Knapp

Reigate Priory 0-5 2nd XI
A routine win over a side who started the day nibbling at our heels in which our defence remained unflappable against the huff-and-puff approach of Reigate. The first quarter was evenly fought, Reigate creating several half-chances, but a superb Ed Breton flick from a short corner gave us the lead midway through the half, and then Chris Valentine swept in a second on the stroke of half-time. The second half was scrappy with some indifferent tackling, and as we took our chances Reigate’s composure fell away, culminating in the their captain being yellowed for dissent. We continued the break down attacks while taking our chances, and could have had a sixth but for some generous umpiring when the keeper took out Paul Acutt.

3rd XI 1-5 Reigate Priory
Despite the scoreline, we were not overwhelmingly outplayed, but we gave away the ball too much, shipped some fairly tame goals, and failed to use our width. Three goals in seven minutes midway through the first half killed the game, and from then on it was fairly low-key stuff. The Reigate keeper’s clean sheet disappeared with the last hit of the game. The result confirmed the relegation we all knew was inevitable from before Christmas.

Aldershot 10-6 3rd XI
Report to follow.

Ladies 2-0 Tulse Hill
Report to follow.

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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Match reports - March 7, 2009

A rousing season-best 14-1 win for the 1st XI improved our goal difference but its was against an eight-man HAC side (who went down to seven when one was carted to hospital before half time). The result of the day was the 2nd XI's 4-2 win at leaders Old Whits, a result that puts the title within our grasp with games in hand. The Ladies relegation worries deepened with a 2-3 loss at Old Georgians, a result which leaves us five points adrift. The 3rd XI now need to win all their remaining four matches to have even a remote chance of avoiding the drop after a 1-2 reverse at home to Addiscombe, but the 4th XI climbed to fifth with a 2-1 win at NPL

Click here for this week's photos

1st XI 14-1 HAC
Not quite the game we anticipated as a very depleted HAC team pitched up at TD with only eight and then losing Tim to a facial injury after 15 minutes with the score 2-0. We all hope the injury is not serious.

Our plan was to play incisive one-touch and expansive hockey which we did for 60 minutes but inexplicably failed to do so for the last 10 with the score at 14-1. We started to assist HAC by taking goal-bound shots off the line and failing to provide the simple tap in for team mates by trying to go it alone. How important could those extra two or three goals be on the 5th April?

The goals we scored were in the main tap-ins, save three short corners and two from the top of the D. We welcomed back Ed Breton until he was scythed down and James Wood back from his cricket tour. The hugely important Jonny Hunter chose to spurn a family wedding to play what turned out to be a significant role in the middle of the pitch.

Our goals were scored by Knappy (5), Rex Bermon (4), Nick Wood (2) and one each from Eds, James Wood and Wobble. At 3-0 we inexplicably allowed HAC to score with their only open play chance and late on some sloppy defending saw us concede a short corner.

Meanwhile down the M3 Wanderers were putting 11 past Camberley with their also conceding one so although we did not dent Wanderers goal difference by as many as we thought we may, we did reel in three.

Our best wishes go to Tim and let us hope that HAC do not roll over as easily next week against Wanderers as they did against us today. David Knapp

Old Whitgiftians v 2nd XI
Old Whits away was always going to be an interesting game. Would our stingy defence (comfortably the best in the league with just 14 goals conceded before this game, against their 32 conceded) trump their more poignant attack (they had scored 70 vs our 29)?

The start for us was less than ideal - a mix up by the skipper meant that everyone turned up at the wrong venue and this was further compounded when he ( and his brother) got caught up in the tailback of an accident on the way. This could have resulted in a slow start (much like when we had conceded 3 goals in 15 minutes in the home leg) but we started strongly and the game saw a fairly even start played at a high tempo.

Will Stevens had been moved up into centre halves and this was crucial in the early exchanges - he gave us a release through the middle from 16s which we had lacked in previous games. We looked very composed in defence and dangerous on the break and we took the lead from a good finish just 15 minutes in.

Unfortunately we then conceded the first of many short corners just seconds later and the strike went through Robbo - a carbon copy of last week's goal. Instead of panicking we grew stronger, aided by some fairly poor tackling by them. We regained the lead before half time with a powerful, low flick into the bottom corner of a short. Just before half time we had to defend a short which then struck a defenders foot. Not spotted by the umpire the skipper immediately corrected the umpire as the half time whistle went. Thankfully a good save by Robbo left us ahead.

2-1 at half time and all to play for in the second half. We came under some heavy pressure at the beginning of the first half, with them forcing a lot of short corners aided by, at times, some indifferent umpiring. Robbo made amends for his earlier mistake with some outstanding saves of the corners and in open play and it was stopped by the post men half a dozen times too!

Despite this we still looked dangerous in attack and we scored again mid way through the second half. This only galvanised them into attacking us relentlessly and we were under real strain when Duncan was yellow carded for a series of poor tackles. His first offence but a reflection of some poor tackling by both sides earlier in the game. We weathered that period well, but then just after conceded from a short when Tom Merry, in an act of self preservation, dragged a shot just missing the left post into his own goal - a cracking finish!

The game had got more and more feisty but for a change it was them loosing their cool more than us - and this certainly helped us. A sweet strike by Will of a well constructed short gave us the two goal breathing space to see out the game.

An excellent effort by the whole team, played with superb determination throughout and no little skill. If we play like that for the rest of the season there is a good chance we will win our remaining 5 games, and in so doing claim the league.

Finally a big thank you to Nick Lewis for umpiring, after a plate glass window has robbed him of playing - he did a great job. Rob Merry

3rd XI v Addiscombe
Report to follow

NPL 1-2 4th XI
It wasn’t pretty, but a brilliant defensive performance and some incisive attacking play gave us a 2-1 away victory against NPL 3s.

NPL started the game brightly, gained a lot of possession and penned us into our own half for much of the first 15 minutes. Despite all their possession though, NPL never really looked dangerous and simply could not get near the goal with Rob Crumby, Grant, James Bishop and Steve Harmer denying every attempt to get in a dangerous position.

With the game appearing dead-locked in a strange stalemate that was playing out between the half way line and our sixteen, NPL ran out of steam and we came alive as an attacking side. Adam Justice threatened on several occasions before a fast break down the left wing led to him finding space in the area to drill home the opener (0-1). Half time.

We had the better of the opening exchanges of the second half and continued to break quickly as we had towards the end of the first half. Oxo, Rob Jonker and James Bishop did well to move the ball wide and feed Adam, who scored his second of the game after a goal-mouth scramble (0-2).

NPL scored a controversial goal late in the game, scraping the ball home while their forward pinned Nige Smith helplessly to the floor (1-2). Nige let most of Teddington know what he thought about the goal, and he was rightfully aggrieved after a flawless performance which deserved another clean sheet.

There were chances to extend our lead and, but for some nervous moments late on, we looked worthy winners in the end. This was a hugely important result against a team who sit one position below us in the league. Dom Tucker

Old Georgians v Ladies
Report to follow

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Saturday, 24 January 2009

Knapp decimal error

With the next 100 Club draw looming, spare a thought for Tony Loveland who received a most welcome email from David Knapp advising him that he had "won £6000 in the pre-Christmas draw". What a difference a small decimal point can make. Fortunately, Knapp was able to send a quick follow-up pointing out that the amount was actually £60 before Tony had booked the holiday of a lifetime ...


Sunday, 30 November 2008

Match reports - November 29, 2008

The 1st XI returned to winning ways – and the top of the table - with a 4-2 victory over Surrey Old Boys, and the 2nd XI maintained their title ambitions with a 3-0 win at Barnes. But there was less to smile about for the 3rd XI who went down 3-2 to Camberley, while the good starts by the 4th XI and Ladies now seem some time ago. The 4th XI have now lost four in five after losing 1-2 at OMWs, while the Ladies, who lost 1-3 at Tulse Hill, have now taken only one point out of the last 15.

Click here for this week's match photos

1st XI 4-2 Surrey Old Boys
After the disappointment of last week it was imperative to bounce back not only with a win but a convincing performance. We welcomed back Duffy from his travels but with Bruce at Twickenham we were thin on the ground - nearly as this as Will's hair. Talking of which Will lasted a total of 46 seconds before doing something to his back and that was the end of his Saturday afternoon exercise. Accordingly Eds was thrust into an alien role and then proceeded to take no chances and perform his duties well.

Cato and Duffy worked well in the middle together and this enabled Ed B to play further up the field with his working well with Rippers b oth having a greater presence than in most games this season higher up the pitch. We kept the ball short and sharp and although Trickster had to mop up a number of bits and pieces we dominated the first period and scored three goals with incisive play down the right, hitting the back line enabling Ed B to score one and Gavin two - all three either tap-ins or deflections. SOBS had some good individual players but perhaps lacked the team work that with their enthusiasm could cause others in the league problems.

The second half saw us a little more ragged but Knapp shot home to make it 4-0 at which point the opposition came back at us and nicked two goals. We created chances but became too strung out and lacked the earlier cohesion and this has to be down to a lack of fitness. There was also the case of an incorrect choice of options at various points but nevertheless this was an impressive performance ahead of the two big ones left before the break.

Last week we lost to HAC, allowing Wanderers to leapfrog us at the top of the table. This week HAC did the same to Wanderers, allowing us to return to the top, two points clear of Wanderers and OMWs. We play both these sides in the next fortnight. David Knapp

Barnes 0-3 2nd XI
After taking on the league leaders the previous weekend it was onto third-placed Barnes, third only by virtue of a weaker goal difference than ours. We arrived at a miserable and cold Chiswick expecting a tough assignment, in truth it was nothing more than a routine victory for a team growing in confidence and desire. Barnes were not helped by the fact that their best player (by a mile) pulled his hamstring after five minutes and had to play up front in the "hobbling around role", but to be honest there was only ever one team in this contest (so ill keep it brief this week!).

We made a couple of changes to the side that drew with Whitgift: Andy Selby filling in at right back for Mez and myself and Duncan swapping roles - I moved to left midfield and Duncan moved to defensive midfield. On the whole the changes worked as I was given more licence to get forward and consequently scored a couple of goals whilst Duncan set about their midfield breaking down attacks and harrying Barnes into errors.

To say we dominated the first half would be an understatement. I can’t remember them ever really being in our half longer than a few seconds, it was one-way traffic. We made multiple forays into Barnes' D and if their umpire had gone to Specsavers we could have had about 10 short corners. We went one up after 15 minutes after the ball was squared to me to sweep into the roof of the net from close range. Minutes later after a short corner (which should have been a flick and a card after their sweeper made a heroic goal line clearance with his foot) and some pinball action the ball broke to Rory who connected sweetly with a reverse-stick strike which whistled past the keeper. I take full credit for this as it was me who during the warm up told everyone not to try anything to flashy in the D and to put the ball on a foot etc - reverse psychology.

2-0 up at the break and it could have been three or four. We never really kicked on after half time which was a bit disappointing, we managed to get a third (I got on the end of a deflection and tucked it away again from close range) fairly early on which effectively killed the game and both sides knew it. Barnes hit a post but that was about as close as they came. Neil Grimes also went close late on but was unfortunate not to score. In truth with the game won our intensity dipped and our passing and movement also faltered - I think we all had one eye on the warmth of the dressing room. If we had maintained our first half form and improved our awareness and distribution when on the break we could have doubled our advantage such was the paucity of resistance coming from Barnes whose league position looks fairly flattering based on that performance.

So we remain hot on Whitgift's heels with two games to go before Xmas. We must win them both so we can mount a serious title challenge in the New Year. Special mention to the defence - nine goals conceded in eight games is by far the best record in the league, keep up the good work! Chris Porter

Tulse Hill 2-1 Ladies
Saturday saw as trek halfway round the south circular to play TH&D away on a cold morning. We had a good warm-up and were revved up and ready to go from the start. The first half was pretty evenly matched with some good attacking plays from us and them. We scored first with some good quick passing up and into the TH circle for Vikki to slot past their keeper to take us 1-0 up. However, it wasn’t long before we conceded our first penalty corner which TH converted with a merciless straight strike. The pay was end to end with TH pressurising us well on 16 and us likewise. We conceded another penalty corner but successfully defended it second time around. At half time the score was 1-1.

The second half saw both teams battling hard but we seemed to be tiring as we struggled to keep up with our TH counterparts. Another short corner conceded by us and converted by them saw TH go 2-1 ahead. It also seemed to be a half of injuries as Rewa in goal was forced to run out and make a save and went down falling on her shoulder. She didn’t get back up and he suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder. We had no subs were one down and I was starting to think about donning the keepers pads and helmet. Fortunately after some time testing the wounded limb she tentatively got to her feet and bravely continued the game. Five minutes later Gayle received a stick in the face, there was no blood and again she bravely continued on. Mez then got a ball in the hand but after a bit of hopping around carried on! We battled on trying to keep the pace high taking quick balls to get ourselves back in the game, but unfortunately we just didn’t mark our players enough and for the second week in a row couldn’t seem to score. After a break by TH they scored a third goal to secure the match for themselves. It wasn’t a good game by the girls and we will have plenty to work on in training this week if we want to end our streak of draws and losses. Jackie Waite

3rd XI 2-3 Camberley
Bollocks ... bollocks ... and more bollocks. Nigel Hawes

OMWs 1-2 4th XI
Report to follow.

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Sunday, 23 November 2008

Match reports - November 22, 2008

The weekend the wheels came off, with the 1st XI's unbeaten start to the season ending with a 1-2 loss at HAC, a result which sees us leapfrogged by Wanderers at the top of the league. The 2nd XI came from two down to draw with leaders Old Whits in a feisty game which Whits, not for the first time, tried to keep simmering after the final whistle. The Ladies went down 1-2 to Guildford, while there were also losses for the 3rd and 4th XIs. Click here for this week's match photos

HAC 2-1 1st XI
The unbeaten record has gone in the most frustrating of circumstances. Perhaps this match was the indication we need that the old guard should move on and the younger aspirants in the seconds be given a chance en blok. HAC thoroughly deserved their victory in a game that produced no more than five shots on target in the 70 minutes. At this stage of the season I would say that HAC were by far and away the most organised, fittest and hungriest side we have played against. Of course one defeat in eight games does not herald a crisis and the league is still in our hands. However, if our interpretation of the complicated rules is correct by finishing third we could end up in the league below our seconds next season - bizarre. Last year saw our first defeat rapidly followed by another five loss of points that scuppered our season. No repeat this year however as two of the next three are against our main protagonists.

The first 15 minutes set a pattern for the day - losing the 50/50 balls and on a skiddy and slightly bumpy pitch having inferior basics to the home side. Once again our undoing was a sharp short corner strike that zipped inside the right post - an excellent strike but one that should have been dealt with. Although still struggling we were back in the game from our first short corner and against the run of the play David Knapp popped home a well-worked corner. No more chances for either side before the break.

We knew that big players play well in the big games and so our big players needed to step up to the plate. Sadly they did not - the writer included. Although we spent 80% of the second period encamped in the HAC half we did not have a single shot on target and only won a single short corner. Our play to the 25 was good but after that shocking. Quite why we did not win more short corners and use our now slick routine is something we need to work on. Again, HAC defended resolutely and although not creating much were intent on catching us on the break.

The turning point was when we had a gilt edged chance to go 2 -1 up with Knapp robbing the defence and then consummately failing with the one-on-one against the keeper passing instead of taking on the keeper. Five minutes later we were one down as a poor clearance found its way back to the HAC centre half who slipped the ball goalwards and a swept shot found its way home. Pressed though we did, our naive play created zero. Cato was once again outstanding and fair to say the only bright spot of our day other than the corners.

Well done HAC for playing a game that exposed our weaknesses, something we have to put right in the next three games. David Knapp

2nd XI 3-3 Old Whitgiftians
If their was any pre match hype surrounding the top of the table clash at TD on Saturday between the OCs and Whitgift then the game definitely lived up to it. Both sides were boasting unbeaten records going into the encounter and it was clear from very early on that neither side was going to let their records slip without a scrap. League leaders Whitgift are a good side, full of confidence after winning 6 on the spin and came to TD with high hopes of adding to that tally. After going 3 up in the space of 20 minutes their hopes had turned to expectation but a spirited comeback from the OCs meant that the spoils of this war were ultimately shared. What the game lacked in overall quality it made up for in intensity and aggression with both sides collective tempers simmering on the edge of legality throughout ...

In truth we started woefully and Whitgift rightly made us pay with 2 well taken short corners. It was not as if we hadn't been warned as Whitgift narrowly missed the backboard from their first short of the game. We need to be more streetwise against the top teams, if it looks like they have a slick routine then foul them outside the 25 or at least outside the D...Whitgift's 3rd came after about 20 minutes, a quick break and some non existent marking ensuring that we had a considerable mountain to climb if we wanted to get anything from the game. Finally we switched on and began to settle into the match, making decent headway down the right flank and getting ourselves in decent attacking areas. Our increased intensity paid off as from a short corner Paul slotted home with composure after his initial strike was blocked by the onrushing Whitgift defender: 3-1. With the bit between our teeth we pushed forward for another goal, which thankfully came before the interval after more good work down the right culminated in Rory finishing well past a rattled Whitgift backline: 3-2 game on. As the half drew to a close the opposition were fuming about what they thought was "a foot" in the build up to our second goal. The bruising on my foot is beginning to subside....To give you an indication of their anger I was told by their number 8 that he was going to "knock my f****** head off". Although this made him an instant hit with the majority of our side, I can regretfully inform you that i still have my head, poor chap.

The main directive coming from the half time talk was not to get sent off. This was salient advice given the nature of the game. The fact that we had 9 players on the pitch at one stage tells you all you need to know about our listening skills. Paul (already on a green card) obviously had one eye on Twickenham as he felled one of Whitgift's midfielders with a pretty dire challenge. Whether or not it warranted being stamped on is contentious, however it definitely deserved a yellow and a spell in the bin. Things got worse when Rory couldn't reign in his temper after scoring what looked like a legitimate goal. Their umpire was taking no prisoners even though he sounded like Penfold. So 11 played 9 but such was our resurgence in the second half we rarely came under any concerted pressure. We began to pass the ball shorter, faster and with more accuracy and for extended periods were camped in the opposition's half. Any traces of first half composure evaporated from Whitgift who seemed content to blast the ball into corners in order to try and regain a territorial foothold in the game. Back to 11 a side we applied more pressure and after a cross from Duncan and a deflection from me, the ball was steered in calmly by Mini Mez at the back post. 3-3 - a superb comeback complete!

Both sides had chances to win the game in a frantic finale. A cross from the right evaded everyone. Duncan came close but their keeper saved from yards out. Right at the death Whitgift broke away, Jon Heard shadowed his man for 30 metres and then performed an awesome rendition of "Swan Lake" and fell on his arse. Eventually our keeper Tim made a great save and the ball was cleared first by Rob and then by Duncan. The game finished in an ugly fashion as the usually docile Dodie had a bit of a run in with their striker. Everyone picked up their handbags and shook on it with one eye firmly on the return fixture next year.

In the end a good result given the first 20 minute debacle, and we move on with our unbeaten record intact. In periods in the second half we played extremely well as our passing became more accurate, but we need to ensure those periods last much longer if we are going to win the league and turn these draws into wins. Also we need to cut out uncharacteristic errors in terms of man-marking and keeping 11 men on the pitch. But it was pleasing to see that our heads never went down and we showed real fighting spirit to emerge with the 1 point.

Another hard game against Barnes on Saturday who are now level on points with us - a must win game.

Ladies 1-2 Guildford
A late push back saw us playing Guildford at freezing 4pm at TD. Guildford were flying high leading our league, but had actually lost more matches than we had going into the game. We were missing our usual back line but had Mez back from uni and Rewa stepping out of goal for us instead. We started well and were dominating the first 15 minutes. The defence were doing a sterling job and an unfortunate defensive error against the run of play saw us go 1-0 down. It stayed this way until after half time when an awesome cross from Ems into the Guildford circle saw Dora 1 on 1 with the Goalie. We held our breathe - if anyone could nail this it was Dor and sure enough she did leaving the GK without a chance. We were back in the game. We were passing the ball around well determined to get another goal and knowing we were more than capable of winning the match. But Guildford pressurised us well, forcing our defence to do a grand job and Steph in goal to pull off some outstanding saves. There were several penalty corners either end and the run of play was pretty much end to end. There were close calls in both penalty areas.

A back pass from Vikki to Muriel saw Helen set up a good goal - unfortunately as Muriel plays sweeper it was a Guildford goal and earning her the dick of the day title and Guildford the three points! It was unfortunate and apart from that incident Muriel and the rest of the defence had had an awesome game, Muriel mopping up the loose players and Mez fully fit, Sarah H dropping back and Rewa on the right all doing a sterling job defensively and pushing up to support the midfield. Those missing will have to work hard to regain their places! It was down to a great Guildford defence preventing us scoring and putting us under pressure that lost us the match.

Even though it finished 1-2 to Guildford, it was still a good team performance from the ladies and a lot of positives to take away from the game. Thanks to the umpires for some good fair umpiring. Jackie Waite

Addiscombe 4-1 3rd XI
The 3rd XI’s Groundhog Day season started in its normal fashion again on Saturday, commencing with another enjoyable car ride through the beautiful streets of Croydon. Included within this drive were plenty of enforced stops which allowed us to admire our surroundings, these stops being allowed to us by the sheer volume of our fellow travellers (it still escapes me why so may people choose to come to this part of the country). On finally arriving at another school in Croydon the normal conversation ensued about how poor the Germans had been with their bombing in not taking out more of the area. We had plenty of time on our hands to have this discussion due to the rest of the team being held up in the Croydon traffic until just before push back.

Eventually once almost everyone had turned up (Rich N being top of the Sat Nav for Christmas list) and we had found the correct astro, which we were to play on, the match got started. The first part of the match started pretty well with the back four of Ollie, Tommy, CD and Stefano holding strong whilst playing the ball around the back before supplying the midfield. The ball was being played around nicely all around the field as we had discussed and the plans seemed to be coming together with Armo and Chris linking up well in midfield we definitely seemed to be holding our own.

That was until Addiscombe won a short corner. A seemingly innocuous shot was initially saved but slow reactions led to a goal being scored and we were 1-0 down. Thankfully, though, we have got rid of our habit of giving up the game on going a goal down. Everyone picked themselves up and went straight on the hunt for an equaliser. With the ball being run hard down both wings by Rich and Dom the attacks were relentless for a period of 10 minutes. With Dave and Chris up front making some great runs. This ended with us scoring a great goal when following a great passing move Dom found himself in front goal and calmly slotted it past the Keeper. Just as we thought though that we might go into half-time all even, we were caught by a sucker punch. With a great run down our left Addiscombe got in behind Nige and scored their second to make it 2-1 going into half-time.

The second half started in much the same fashion with honours all even for the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately though we started to chase the game, a little too much. This meant that Addiscombe were starting to catch us on the break. This left us defending against excess numbers and twice in quick succession Nige was left with one on ones, thankfully these were dealt with and the defence were able to get back. We then pushed our luck a touch too much and the third one on one was not repelled and we went 3-1 down. This was followed by a fourth before the end and again our day ended with us believing we should have done better.

Thanks go to Addiscombe for providing both umpires and for being one of the friendlier sides in the league. Its bizarre how two teams who are based so close can be so different? Nigel Hawes

4th XI 1-3 NPL
Report to follow

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Saturday, 15 November 2008

Match reports - November 15, 2008

The 1st XI maintained their 100% record and top place in Surrey One with a 4-2 win over Cheam, while the 2nd XI scored four second-half goals to defeat Walton 5-2. The Ladies drew with Old Georgians 1-1, and the 3rd XI recorded their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a goal two minutes from time, against NPL. The 4th XI beat Teddington 2-0 while the Vets went down to Bromley 0-2.

1st XI 4-2 Cheam
The proverbial game of two halves in which we were scintillating for 25 minutes of the first 35 but inept in the second once the game was killed off.

Having been pumped up by the ghetto blaster in the Cheam dressing room and making the most of a Brucey warm up we knew that plating short passes and crisp hockey and wanting rather than expecting to win would enable us to dominate and dominate we did. Chris Valentine was outstanding in the first half benefiting from a solid display from Nick Lewis whose timely runs from the back caused all sorts of problems for Cheam and gave Chris the space to open up the Cheam defence time and time again. Trickster was redundant in the first half due to our domination and at the break we were 4-0 to the good. Chris set up Knapp for the first, Ed Breton scored at the third attempt from a short for the second and Chris tapped home the third a fitting reward for his first half display. The fourth was the product of a cracking ball out of the back, a sublime dummy by Gavin leaving Knapp with the task of beating the keeper in a one on one and slipping the ball home. In between times we created a fair few other chances that were not converted.

Now to the second half - was it the same two sides playing? For some reason we stopped running and probably felt the game was over and so took our foot off the pedal. A spirited Cheam side cam back in the game with two goals, the second a product of a short corner given away for a clumsy tackle in the 25 and a straight strike deflected over Trickster - sadly by one of us. Although we continued to create a number of chances that looking back were on occasions easier to score than miss it was Cheam who came closest to scoring again with a couple of deflections going narrowly past the post.

Although not as tight as last week we do have to learn how to kill off games in the second half otherwise we will come a cropper.

Great umpiring from Ebs and Ian Jolly - the best combination we have had this season with no cause for complaint from any of the players during the 70 minutes.

HAC away next week - never a happy hunting ground. David Knapp

Walton & Weybridge Hawks 2-5 2nd XI
It was raining goals at Sunbury as we got back to winning ways in style on Saturday afternoon. Considering we had only scored eight goals in five games in the lead up to the match it was pleasing to net five times in a single outing. It was not all plain sailing though. With 15 minutes left on the clock we were leading by a one-goal margin after the hawks had dispatched their second of the game. However a combination of calm heads and clinical finishing ensured we killed off any chance of a shock comeback, with three goals in quick succession. In truth the 5-2 score-line did not flatter us such was our dominance in terms of territory, possession, fitness and skill.

After a high tempo warm up we started the game well and settled into some decent passing and good spells of possession. Andy Selby (looking far more at home in the centre of midfield) linking play well. The tactic of playing Paul upfront with James was playing off with both players moving well and providing targets for our midfield to hit. It was only a matter of time before our pressure translated into a goal, which James Wood provided clinically after 20 minutes.

At half time everyone was shouting about 16s and how to defend them, which I found particularly boring. It was a shame because we could have focussed on one of best halves of hockey so far season. We were confident on the ball, our movement was much improved and our passing crisp. I can't remember the opposition having one clear cut chance during the first period, a testament to our back four's concentration and determination.

Anyway second half and W&W came out with renewed vigour and managed to nick an equaliser, beating Mike on his near post after a significant deflection. Thankfully we did not panic and restored our advantage almost immediately. A great run from Paul led to Rob Merry (who must have been on oxygen he was so high up the pitch) slamming home from the top of the D! Then it was over to Paul to grab an excellent brace to continue his great goal scoring form for the club. Clearly relishing playing higher up the pitch his class shone through, with one thunderous strike which gave their keeper little chance.

We did have a little stutter at 3-1 as hawks grabbed second (again from a short corner) that briefly got the score back to 3-2, but Paul's second and then our 5th, a slick finish from Nick Wood after a perfect cross from his brother, finally clipped the hawk's wings for good.

Ok the opposition were fairly average but we played really well. Crucially the side looked and felt much more balanced. The back four looked settled and assured the midfield were passing and moving and closing down well and we carried a genuine threat up front for the first time this season. There were a number of performances that deserve a mention...Our captain played his best game of the season - a goal, a goal-saving clearance and some marauding surges up the pitch to help out in attack, its clear that full back is a better position for him than left half. Paul Acutt held the ball up well, made intelligent runs and gave us a much needed cutting edge scoring two goals (shame he didn't pass to me with the goal at my mercy late on - these South Africans eh?). "The Woodys" have clearly found their feet now. Both looked sharp and dangerous throughout -a goal each and valuable contributions in general. Andy Selby also had a good game, looking far more comfortable in midfield where he linked well with his teammates and snuffed out any threat coming from their playmakers...

Good result - lets ensure we keep the momentum going for next Saturday's showdown with league leaders Whitgift. Also welcome back to Neil Grimes, who can only help strengthen us further...

And finally... Good to see Martin back umpiring after a few weeks off. He clearly hasn't forgotten how to dish out cards; especially to yours truly. Chris "I got the only card of the game" Porter

Ladies 1-1 Old Georgians
We found ourselves playing our home match against Old Georgians at Surbiton! We had only one sub so knew it was going to be a hard match as we didn’t have the five pairs of extra legs on the bench that we have become accoustomed to! The first half was pretty evenly matched with some close calls from both teams with both our defence and forwards working hard. OG’s won a penalty corner but nothing came of it. Their goal came from a bit of defensive confusion on our part and we let in a sloppy goal. We went into half time 1-0 down against the bottom side in the league.

We knew we had had the better game in the first half and were determined to get something out of the match. The second half we played much more attacking hockey with Muriel and Tux playing fairly high allowing our midfield and forwards to push higher still. OG’s however were not going to let their lead go easily and continued to put us under pressure and again we conceded several penalty corners but held strong defending them. OG’s began to tire and our fitness began to pay off. We found ourselves with much more space but were struggling to put the ball in the goal. Eventually 10 minutes from the end and after some good fast passing through the midfield, Vikki had a shot on goal which she roofed into the left hand corner leaving Jules (our ex keeps) standing. It was a fantastic goal which will be in for a very good chance of goal of the season and brought us back to level at 1-1. We tried hard for another but at full time the score finished 1-1. Next week will be a real test as we face top of the table Guildford. Thanks to both umpires for their time and good consistent umpiring. Jackie Waite

3rd XI 1-1 NPL
Before the match started it looked like it could be another one of those days with various members turning up without shirts including an ex-captain (naming no names Armo), and Ross even turning up without any kit. Nige had also managed to forget to bring and balls so all-in-all our hour warm-up was pretty successful.

It initially looked like this was going to continue into the game with NPL pushing back as we managed to keep giving it away too cheaply and in so doing we managed to put ourselves under a little bit of pressure for the first ten minutes. We seemed then to start getting a control of things with Richard taking over up front from Danny and Chris B dropping back into midfield to partner Armo in the centre. As we kept pushing, NPL caught us on the break and Nige could not stop the ball from going past when left with a one on one.

Although a couple of times this season going behind has been the point where we have imploded, this was not one of those days. Stu Steele took the game by the grip of the neck manufacturing great pressure from the back with assistance of Tim, Ollie and Stefano. With Chris Scott and Chaz making some great runs down each wing the pressure on NPL was constant. Pretty much the last 20 minutes of the half saw us camped in their half and despite constant pressure we were unable to capitalise on this and went into half time still 1-0 down.

The second half started back pretty even with NPL trying to keep us out of their half and making a couple of breaks. Either the defence or Nige Smith, (who commanded his area) were far too strong for them. The pressure then continued to build and it looked in the end as if NPL had decided that the only way forward was to put 11 men behind the ball.

It looked as if we were not going to break this down but with only a couple of minutes to go we secured a short corner. We had had a number through the game but had not really threatened that much with any of them. We still had a never-die-spirit and we were not going to give in on this one. Rich injected to Armo who stopped and Ross struck sweetly. Just as the NPL keeper thought he had it covered Rich swept in and the ball flicked into the roof of the net. With the remaining time left we continued to push but were unable to achieve the elusive win which all considered we did deserve.

Thanks to Jon and David for covering the umpire duties. We came off very proud that the team was starting to gel together and play as a team. The result we have been searching for can only be around the corner. Nige “Cripple” Hawes

Teddington 0-2 4th XI
We returned to winning ways with a 2-0 away win against Teddington Mens VIs. It wasn’t pretty, but we came away with the three points. With various players away watching the rugby, the team was juggled slightly and thanks go to CD who raced back from Hereford to complete the starting XI.

A little over six months ago Teddington Oaks thrashed us comprehensively to win the league title. They bore the same hallmarks of that team; a mixture of very young, energetic, skillful players and a trio of experienced ‘guiding elders’. They were very much a developmental XI and despite their lowly league position we were keen not to be taught a lesson this time around.

We started the game well and played some flowing hockey. Steve Harmer distributed the ball excellently from pivot, enabling CD, Rob Jonker and Smeer to put together some flowing moves down the right flank, and Oxo, Bertie and Adam to do similarly down the left. Smeer in particular always looked dangerous loitering on the last defender, if only the ball would fall kindly for him. At the back, Nick, Rob Crumby and Grant dealt well with an energetic and slightly unpredictable set of Teddington forwards.

A period of good possession culminated in a short corner which ended with CD scraping the ball home from very close range (1-0). After that, our performance went very flat and we hung on for half time for what seemed like a decade. (Half time 1-0).

Play resumed and life returned to our performance. Bertie Bance, inspired by Steve’s new knockers and a trip down memory lane in Richmond Park (where he used to walk his Cat), put in his best performance of the season and scored a deserved goal, passing the ball across the area and into the goal (2-0).

Unfortunately, whoever was responsible for turning on the floodlights must have been watching the rugby, and forgot to do so. Night fell and the game increasingly became unplayable, eventually being halted and enabling us to escape with a two-goal lead and the three points. Dom Tucker

Veterans 1-1 Bromley & Beckenham
Report to follow

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Saturday, 8 November 2008

Record website traffic in October

The OC website did record traffic in October, with 18458 page views from 1745 unique visitors. The previous best for page impressions was 17110 in January of this year. The most searched player names were Abeed Janmohamed, Louis Strover, David Knapp and Chris Bents …

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

Match reports - October 25, 2008

The 1st XI remained top of the table despite making hard work of beating Addiscombe 2-1, and for the second week running the 2nd XI had to dig deep to defeat Surbiton 3-1. The Ladies squandered a lead against Merton to slip to their first loss of the season, and the 3rd XI suffered their third straight drubbing, 1-8 at Goan. Goal machine Louis Strover made it seven in two games as the 4th XI beat Staines 5-0.

Addiscome 2-3 1st XI
Addiscombe always prove to be a sterner test than we think they should and today was no exception. We knew it would be a tough game and but for an inspired series of saves by Robbo in the first two minutes we could easily - and probably should - have been one down. As it was we found ourselves 2-0 up after 20 minutes, Knapp with the deftest of deflections and Cookiey slotting home when loose in the circle. From this point onwards from what should have been a routine victory we contrived to make hard work of the final 50 minutes with Addiscombe quite rightly finding themselves level five minutes into the second-half.

Both sides forced a series of short corners with the home side's far more threatening than ours and it was no surprise when one of theirs was squeezed home. Prior to half time we were guilty of missing a series of good chances to wrap the game up and the Addiscombe keeper began to make some saves that kept the home team in the game. As the game wore on the quality of his saves increased and one wondered if it was going to be one of those days. Five minutes into the second half another short corner was our undoing but at that stage Addiscombe were well worth the 2-2 scoreline.

The introduction of Chris Valentine settled our formation and he began to dominate down the right and when we played the type of hockey we talked about the chances came thick and fast. Eventually we scored from our last short corner of the game with Paul Acutt deflecting home a well worked move but instead of closing the game out we made some unforced errors and insted of coasting to a win it felt as if we were hanging on. A number of good chances came and went with more top draw saves by the Addiscombe keeper and it was with some relief that the final whistle blew.

This performance was better than the scoreline suggests with some excellent hockey and very good preformances from Ed Breton, Chris Brewer, Chris Valentine and man of thematch Ed Copleston. Four wins out of four is as good as it gets, but we had the same record last year before we went into a run of one point from nine. Our nemesis Bank of Boks are next up and we cannot afford anything but a win. Disappointingly our availability is again far from 100 % next week so a good opportunity for someone to grab a place and keep hold of it for future weeks. David Knapp

Ladies 1-2 Merton
This week the ladies played Merton, which give last week’s great result we had a lot of confidence to take the points in this game … but the thing about Merton is they are unpredictable.

With a full squad and pumped up we started the game hard and held the possession. Given our previous games against Merton this seemed to be slightly easier than normal as they only appeared to have a couple of strong players. In the first 20 minutes we took advantage of this, clearly taking the game to them and get a number of shots on goal. Eventually persistence paid off and from a cross from the right Steph mashed the ball past the goalie to take us one up. And while for the remainder of the first half we continued to hold possession, we allowed Merton to get a fluke equaliser as we failed to clear our back line. Bollocks!

So into half time it was all to play for … but there are times when things just don’t go your way, especially when you have no control over some things! The second half saw us loose some of our confidence and allow Merton back into the game. Things then turned slightly worse for Tux as Martin pulled out a green card (harsh!), for a dodgy tackle… this wouldn’t have been so bad but Mr and Mrs Tucker had turned up to watch their daughter for the very first time! Martin how could you!!

It was soon after this that Merton caught us on the counter and produced their second goal to take the lead… arse! Even though the final score remained 1-2 to the end the squad never gave up trying to get the equaliser but lady luck wasn’t on our side. The result leaves us mid table but with the league so tight at the top we can get straight back up there! Helen Hawes

2nd XI 3-1 Surbiton
The 2nd XI maintained their 100% record on Saturday evening, registering a third consecutive win against a poor Surbiton outfit. All in all it was a decent performance considering the amount of new faces that we drafted in, having lost Chris and Paul to the 1s. We could, and probably should; have scored at least two more goals to put a bit of gloss on the score-line but some wayward finishing meant that we found ourselves defending doggedly for the last quarter of the match.

After a sluggish start (no change there then) we began to grow in confidence and put together some fluid passing moves with Neil Grimes finding space and distributing effectively. Our defence also gave us a solid platform with new recruit Mike Grindy looking assured at right back. Another feature of the game was our movement and pace in attack with Bruce, Rory, Alex and Tissy interchanging regularly and giving their leaden footed defence a torrid time. Rory Alexander clinched our first after 20 minutes to give us a deserved lead. Although it should have been his second after one of the most inexplicable misses ever seen at TD (and there have been a few) just moments before. Confidence grew and we hunted down our second which came before the interval. More good work from Grimes set up a swift counter attack which culminated in Tissy cleverly squaring to yours truly to slot past the keeper - cue wild celebrations from me, which on reflection was a bit embarrassing, my apologies!

We began the second half on the front foot and dictated the play for extended periods with Bruce eventually applying what turned out to be the final nail in Surbiton’s coffin, his second in successive games. Surbiton, it must be said; were limited opponents whose attacking approach consisted of firing long balls in hope rather than expectation. They did however pull one back through a miss-hit short corner which cruelly wrong footed our keeper. The goal had a destabilising effect on the team and we lost our shape towards the end. But some no nonsense scrapping from Jon Heard (a rock all afternoon), Henry, Andy and Duncan ensured that we limited them to the one goal. By the end Surbiton's frustration boiled over and one of their players was sent to the bin by Sheriff Williamson (it was a pretty awful tackle and that’s coming from me) to confirm Surbiton's demise.

On to Spencer next week with a spring in our step, after a much improved performance. Well done lads!
Chris Porter

Goan 8-1 3rd XI
Report to follow ... or more likely not!

4th XI 5-0 Staines
This weekend saw the 4th XI take on Staines 5s at home. Tom Pollard re-appeared from university to make a welcome return to a defence that was missing Robin Crumbly; Nick Jocelyn returned from injury and Peter Shanks made his first appearance of the season for the 4th team.
The opening minutes of the fixture were evenly competed by both teams. We made a composed and solid start which, once we settled, allowed us to impose ourselves on the game and push forward in pursuit of the opening goal. Oxo and Bertie ‘Don’t blame the credit crunch on me’ Bance, linked well down the left flank, whilst Adam Justice battled tirelessly for the team in an unfamiliar midfield role.

The deadlock was broken towards the end of the first half. A free hit just outside the opposition area was struck hard towards the goal. Louis Strover stuck out a stick to get the all important touch of the ball before it struck the bottom right corner of the goal (1-0). Shortly afterwards, Smeer did well to connect with a similar drive (but from open play this time), deflecting it narrowly wide.
At half time, the difference between the two teams couldn’t have been more marked. As we discussed the first half there was an air of determination about the 4s who were clearly looking forward to play resuming. A glance at the other end of the pitch told an entirely different story. Staines were slumped in their goal and looked defeated already.

The second half picked up where the first half ended, with the 4s pushing forward. Oxo once again provided the drive down the left flank which led to three goals being scored in quick succession. Louis struck an early second goal with a typically powerful finish from inside the area (2-0), before Dom pushed in from close range (3-0). Louis then controlled a loose ball on the edge of the area, turned on a sixpence and smashed home a 4th (4-0). At 4-0 down, the opposition brought a previously unseen determination and aggression to their game and were clearly determined to get something back. This new found urgency was to no avail though as Grant Archer skilfully denied the Staines forward line any opportunity to settle in the area (one such occasion is shown in the photograph above).

Late on, Smeer capped a typically tenacious performance with a goal from close range (5-0), and whilst the game may be remembered for the five goals, the result was built upon a resolute defensive performance in which Steve Harmer commanded play as pivot, Grant Archer put in some memorable moments of skill as sweeper, Tom Pollard played as if he hadn’t been away and Darren Pouts made another strong display. Thanks must also go to Nick Aston who dragged himself out of bed with flu to take his starting place in the team.

The result leaves us second in the league and looking forward to a 2nd v 3rd place showdown with Old Reigatian 2s next weekend. Thanks to Duncan and Rosie for umpiring.

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