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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Match reports January 23 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Room for improvement all round for next week. Grant Archer

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Goals at the bottom end, draws at the top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 16 August 2009

Summer baby boom

It’s been a busy summer on the baby front. First off the blocks was Helen Hawes (click here for more) but in the last few weeks there has been a positive spurt of new arrivals.

First off the block were Tonya and Tony Norris, with Barnaby Anthony Storm (yes, Storm) splashing down on July 27.

On August 11, Olivia May was born to Jon and Joanna Heard, and then three days later Jackie Waite gave birth to Darcie Elizabeth.

Congratulations to all concerned and apologies for any omissions.

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Saturday, 4 October 2008

Match reports - October 4, 2008

The 1st XI left it late to secure a 3-2 win over Old Kingstonians, a Pies goal two minutes from time earning us all three points. The 3rd XI drew 1-1 with Purley Walcountians, the 4th XI routed Walton 4-0 while the Ladies came from behind three times to draw 4-4 at Raynes Park. The Vets were the one loser, hammered 6-0 by Surbiton

Pies fires home our late winner

1st XI 3-2 Old Kingstonians
Match photos
A last-gasp win against the recently relegated OK side in what turned out to be a scrappy encounter containing very little good hockey from either side.

The new season always starts with high hopes and perhaps it is too much to expect us to play well in the first league outing with three points being more important than the style played to achieve the win.

Our Achilles heel is our short-corner defence, and so it proved again today, both goals being conceded from shorts. OKs took the lead from their first corner after David Knapp missed the easiest of chances following excellent work from Cato along the base line. Ed B was unluckily penalised for a fine goal-line stop but the umpire felt there was an infringement, awarded a stroke and we were one down. Within 10 minutes we were 2 -1 up, Knapp converting after a well worked move from defence saw Gav Adair on this occasion running along the back line with Knapp on this occasion slotting home. Two minutes later another move along the goaline set up the chance and Adair's shot was stropped on the line by a foot and Knapp put away the ensuing penalty stroke. Instead of continuing to play the short ball game that was causing the opposition problems, we went back to the long ball through the middle and were unpicked when we gave away a short, did not clear the pads and it was 2 - 2.

The first period had been spoilt by an early yellow for a clumsy stick tackle by an OK player which was followed by one for Bruce for a not very malicious tackle, but one that gave Clive no option but to follow his colleague's lead and issue a yellow - only one way for the cards to go after such an early yellow.

The second period was an excellent advert for watching league football as both teams descended into hockey ping-pong with the resultant 60-yard shuttles. Neither side had the nouse to slow the game down and be patient, and it became very stretched. The two attacks both had great chances to take the lead but squandered hosts of opportunity. Robbo made a number of good saves but it was Pies from our last short corner who cracked the ball home with a pin point shot with two minutes remaining that enabled us to run out winners. The main positive from the second half was a much safer looking defensive play and some good runs from Cookiey who looked dangerous when running at the OK defence.

Neither side on today's showing will feature in the top two on this performance but another day, another game and at least we took the points.
A last-gasp win against the recently relegated OK side in what turned out to be a scrappy encounter containing very little good hockey from either side.

The new season always starts with high hopes and perhaps it is too much to expect us to play well in the first league outing with three points being more important than the style played to achieve the win.

Our Achilles heel is our short-corner defence, and so it proved again today, both goals being conceded from shorts. OKs took the lead from their first corner after David Knapp missed the easiest of chances following excellent work from Cato along the base line. Ed B was unluckily penalised for a fine goal-line stop but the umpire felt there was an infringement, awarded a stroke and we were one down. Within 10 minutes we were 2 -1 up, Knapp converting after a well worked move from defence saw Gav Adair on this occasion running along the back line with Knapp on this occasion slotting home. Two minutes later another move along the goaline set up the chance and Adair's shot was stropped on the line by a foot and Knapp put away the ensuing penalty stroke. Instead of continuing to play the short ball game that was causing the opposition problems, we went back to the long ball through the middle and were unpicked when we gave away a short, did not clear the pads and it was 2 - 2.

The first period had been spoilt by an early yellow for a clumsy stick tackle by an OK player which was followed by one for Bruce for a not very malicious tackle, but one that gave Clive no option but to follow his colleague's lead and issue a yellow - only one way for the cards to go after such an early yellow.

The second period was an excellent advert for watching league football as both teams descended into hockey ping-pong with the resultant 60-yard shuttles. Neither side had the nouse to slow the game down and be patient, and it became very stretched. The two attacks both had great chances to take the lead but squandered hosts of opportunity. Robbo made a number of good saves but it was Pies from our last short corner who cracked the ball home with a pin point shot with two minutes remaining that enabled us to run out winners. The main positive from the second half was a much safer looking defensive play and some good runs from Cookiey who looked dangerous when running at the OK defence.

Neither side on today's showing will feature in the top two on this performance but another day, another game and at least we took the points.

Raynes Park 4-4 Ladies XI
For our second league match of the season we were playing Raynes Park Ladies 1's and hoping to secure our first win against the newly-promoted team. We had learned from last season though not to count on promoted teams being an easier match and this was certainly with RP. The whole match ended up being a game of catch up.

With a squad of 15 we knew we could try and keep the match pace high but it didn't seem to happen and for the majority of the first half we didn't settle. We had a couple of good attacksbut it was RP that seemed to have the upper hand with Steph our GK having to pull off a couple of good saves. We conceded several short corners and after defending a couple well, RP eventually managed to convert and took the lead. It was only one goal and we new we were more than capable of winning the match. We seemed to relax more and began playing our game with some good one touch hockey between the midfielders of Manny, Gayle, Steph and Jax, and our forwards of Dora, Snoopy, Liza and May making her usual lightning quick runs. Our equaliser came from a free hit outside the circle taken by Manny passed to an Jax running in unmarked who swept it into the back of the goal. So we went into half time 1-1.

We were determined to keep our momentum up after the break, but it didn't happen. RP piled on the pressure and again we conceded short corners. Our defence of Ros, George, Rosie, Lucy and Daisy did a sterling job of defending them but the inevitable happened. Unfortunately Georgie took a knock to the knee having to go off and RP took advantage of the momentary disarray in the defence to convert their second, well-practised short corner to go 2-1 up. We still didn’t let our heads drop but RP piled on the pressure and scored another off open play within the next 10 minutes to give them a two-goal lead. At 3-1 down though we showed our true OC spirit. RP were begining to tire and we pushed up the pitch, the girls new fitness regimes shining through. After a mêlée in the RP circle, and a few attempts on the goal, Jax eventually managed to score our second. Keeping RP on the back foot we kept the momentum going and within the next 10 minutes had scored an equaliser thought some excellent play coming right from the back with Ros and Rosie distributing the ball wide to and round the back to midfield and eventually into the circle where Dora and Snoops had shots deflected and eventually 'wing back' Helen Hawes found herself in the unusual position of being on the oppo's post to put the finishing touch on our equalising goal (and only her second I believe for OCLHC?!).

We had come back to 3-3. With five minutes to go we still believed we could win the match but did not want to lose the draw. However again we gave away a penalty corner two minutes from time. The first shot was blocked but took an unfortunate deflection into the roof of our goal.

We like to give ourselves a challenge and make life hard for ourselves! And once again, even with so little time left, we were determined not to lose. Some quick play up the pitch passed from Gayle on the left back to Daisy in defence and then to Dora who leveled with less than a minute remaining.

We had hoped for a win but it was a true, determined, gritty team performance, with everyone giving 110% that got us a well earned draw, and saw a team with several new players bonding and growing stronger. Plenty to work on in training, but many positives taken from the match! We look forward to next week, still looking for our first win of the season. Jackie Joyce

4th XI 1-1 Purley Walcountians
When we arrived and looked over at the opposition we were all shocked to find out their average age was only about 14. It made even Chris feel old in comparison. The match got underway, and we started well which makes a change. We exerted some pressure on the opposition with some great distribution from Stu and Rob J linking up well with CD on the left. Some slick passing lead to chances. Then the pressure paid of with Rob J slipping the ball to Chaz. Chaz struck the ball past the keeper into the bottom left of the goal. We were 1-0 up in the first 10 minutes, which is almost unheard of in recent 3rd XI history.

The opposition came straight back at us with the youngsters in their team showing some good skills. Stu held it strong in the centre making some sharp tackles. Tim at the back also holding us strong, although the defence left him the tricky job of marking their quickest player. They started to get a few chances winning a few short corners. With Ollie not seeing eye to eye with Martin. Ollie it’s not a good idea getting on the wrong side of your own umpire. Martin will always win!(isn’t that right Nige)

Unfortunately we could not hold out until half time despite Nige making some fantastic saves! The score was now 1-1. Finally the half-time whistle went we looked like we needed the break rather than them. With a good half time team talk with Stu making some good points we were ready for the second half.

The second half started well With CD making some impact on the left. On the right Tom and Rob J decided it was not worth trying to run round them, as they were a hell of a lot quicker and fitter than us. So they made the ball do the work and played some great hockey.

Andy, Rich and Preston also playing well up front Preston holding the ball up well and distributing it to CD and Tom. Rich had a chance as he took it around the keeper but then in a tussle ended up on the ground. I was sat on the bench and had no idea what went on, but Rich did not look a happy bunny. They also had their fair share of chances but Nige made some fantastic saves and kept them out. In fact at one point the best way to keep them away from our goal was to flatten them. He did ask if the player was OK afterwards (very sporting Nige!). The defence also played well with Ollie, Ewan Stefano making some great challenges and distributing the ball well. Stu worked hard in the centre, in fact so hard he had to sub himself (coming off the pitch he looked absolutely shattered).

In the end we settled for a 1-1 draw a fair result. Well played to all some great teamwork. Thanks go to Martin as well for a very well and fairly umpired game. Chris Bents

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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Match reports - April 5, 2008

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

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

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

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Sunday, 16 March 2008

Match reports - March 15, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 9 March 2008

Match reports - March 8, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Match reports - February 23, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, 25 November 2007

Match reports - November 24, 2007

Jock Vickers on a run
NPL 1 1st XI 2 A win is a win, and after three defeats and a drew in the last four outings, anything is welcome. But against a side rotted at the bottom, without a win, and whose goal difference was minus 32, we could and should have done much better than this. After a dismal opening ten minutes,Gav Adair gave us the lead, Eds Copleston doubled it and we then dominated the half and should have had countless more. But NPL hit back after the break although we held on to take all three points.

Ladies 1 Croydon 2 On a bitterly cold Saturday morning we were fired up to play second-placed Croydon at TD. We went out hard and probably had slightly more possession throughout the first 20 minutes having some good scoring opportunities and a penalty corner just lifted over the bar by Mrs Mott. They too had some good opportunities and a couple of penalty corners making our defence of Ros, Rosie, Tux and Muriel work hard and forcing a couple of good saves from Katy. Unfortunately a debatable umpiring decision (sorry Armo - i'm sure you'll get your own back in your match report!), gave Croydon a penalty stroke - to be fair from and where I was standing it looked that way too. Croydon converted with an excellent flick that gave Katy little chance. Two minutes later a mix-up defending gave Croydon their second goal.

At half-time we knew it could easily be 2-2 at least and kept our heads up and played hard. Lots of running as always from the forwards of Caz, May and Nina. Within minutes we were attacking their circle with some great team work and movement by all. Before long Nikki had put the ball in the back of the goal and Armo had failed to see it hit her foot on the way in. Unfortunately Martin and the rest of the team didn't and the goal was quite rightly disallowed. Croydon continued to push for more goals and won more corners which we defended well. Eventually a goal came. Nikki slammed the ball past Croydon’s keeper after a penalty corner didn't go quite as planned. It didn't matter as we scored anyway! For the last 20 minutes we kept pushing hard and had some more close calls looking like we could easily equalise but just couldn't seem to finish. We won the second half but the damage had been done in the first. A good but unlucky performance by us, but an enjoyable game against a good and fair team. Jackie Joyce

3rd XI 0 Sanderstead 1 (Click here for photos) We failed to capitalise on a good win last week with a 0-1 loss at home. Before the match report commences, for the record, there were three qualified umpires playing for the us and two more on the sideline. We understand and appreciate the time, dedication and difficulties that being an umpire can entail and do not wish to detract from this in this report. We also appreciate the need to train new umpires as well and therefore endeavour to do so. Saying that, the opposition umpire was so inconsistent, power crazed and ineffective that we were always playing 12 men on the field, and in the closing moments of the game an opposition player felt he could get away with running 10 metres off the ball into the OC captain from behind. Not only is this dangerous it is a disgraceful display of umpiring delivery that this player only received a yellow card.

More importantly, the game. We started with strong optimism and pushed back on a still-to-be-bedded TD pitch. Although a little disjointed to being with, we began to find some consistency and movement from the ball. Stu and Jock once again held the back four in structure and ordered the central midfield well. Chris Bents and Armitage were holding the ball well and distributing to the flanks with the wind backs moving the ball up the line effectively. The first indications of problems occurred when a decision went the other way and without prior warning to the team or captain, the umpire responded by a shocked "what!" statement with the ball being moved up 10 metres. This was then repeated again and again, with almost every penalty being moved up the pitch. So often was the umpire’s fist raised in the air that he seemed to be auditioning for a part in a recreation of a Nuremburg rally. Any queries were greeted with a shout of “learn the rules”.

The opposition moved the ball fluidly in midfield and created some threatening attacks. Of particular note was their young right wing who will be a useful player for several years. The game continued openly until the umpire had an altercation with one of the supporters after he had called back a quickly-taken free hit in the middle of the pitch because he wanted it taken one meter – yes, one meter – further back. The supporter said "that's right Stu, move it back the full eight inches". The umpire immediately reversed the decision and, almost inevitably, also moved it back up the pitch ten meters – actually about 15 which made his original pettiness even more absurd. Two minutes later, the OC captain was called over to the sideline to be told that the supporter was being offensive, the captain went to the supporter and as doing so, the umpire stated that the supporter was questioning his every decision and being rude. The supporter (ironically Level 1 qualified) responded and it came down to the captain telling both the umpire and supporter to shut up although the umpire said he was going to have the supporter banned from the club! We would all like to know how he is going to do that!

Never-the-less, the game continued and some good play from both sides eventually led to a short corner which they capitalised from and a clean shot into the bottom right corner proved the only goal of the game. The remainder of the half showed some good play with Bruce and Chaz threatening up the flanks and Preston looking dangerous up front.

Half-time came and the team knew that consistent and structured play would deliver and some excellent attacks from Dave L, CD and Chris led to some good opportunities. Decisions were becoming more unpredictable, stick tackles and body checks were allowed with impunity and the game grew ever more fractious. As if to underline his incompetence, by this time the umpire was running up and down the middle of the pitch blowing decisions everywhere and on occasions getting in the way of the play.

We still pressed well and created chances but full credit to the Sanderstead who had an excellent game, keeping several attempts out as Chaz, Preston, Bruce and Dave all goalless.

Niggles grew as the half progressed whileTim had a great display of composure and confidence through-out the game kept two potentially crucial attacks at bay. As the game came to its conclusion, the aforementioned cowardly body-hit occurred. We will take the opportunity to say that other than that hit, the opposition were enjoyable to play against, an end-to-end game. We look forward to playing them later in the season but do request a different umpire.

Man-of-the-match, Tim Judd and you can make your own conclusions who d;@! of the day was.

At this point we should reiterate that these reports are not the view of the club and are purely personal reflections on matches!

View from the sideline While echoing Armo's general sentiments, and congraulating the side on not losing their collective cools, it was not so much that the official in question didn't know the rules - he knew enough - but that he didn't have a clue how to apply them. So a cynical body check or violent stick-tackle just got a standard hit and no warning - and that applied to both sides - the mildest of questioning was severely punished. The sole reason the game started getting fractious towards the end was that lack of any control. Full marks to Jackie for keeping things flowing at the other end despite her colleague increasing taking a central midfield role and attempting to officiate the entire pitch.

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Saturday, 10 November 2007

Match reports - November 10, 2007

1st XI 0 Wanderers 2 (Click here for match photos) Today was the day that our problems came home to roost. Having been relegated last season and had a patchy start to their season in our league Wanderers were always going to be a side that were able to play a more pacy and aggressive style of hockey that would find out sides in our league. So it proved to be as we were played off the park in the first 15 to 20 minutes and should have been two goals down, with Wanderers squandering a gilt edged chance in the first three minutes and messing up a three-on-one five minutes later. Robbo made a wonderful save with his left foot before the half was out.

The final half of the first period saw our best period of the match and we could have also scored a couple following some good build up play, the spreading of the ball wide and attacking the back line. We welcomed back Smudger from injury and inSimon Bray made his debut and showed that although ring rusty he has the skill to create danger in the oppo’s 25 and the innate ability to score goals. Adair had a half chance to open the scoring when the ball came quickly off the keepers pads, Bray flashed a shot inches wide and the Wanderers goalie made two difficult saves look easy. When we did force short corners the routine was woeful breaking down as it did at the top of the D. An even score line at half time was about fair on the balance of play but it was always going to be the case that the first 10 minutes of the second half would decide the game.

Having pressed us hard at the beginning of the match and utilising their pace and the space between our forwards and midfield and midfield and defence Wanderers were expected to do the same as the second period commenced. Accordingly we allowed ourselves to be dominated and instead of having the sense to slow the game down and play the ball wide and up the flanks we continually gave the ball away and it was only a matter of time before we conceded the first. A few minutes later it was two as Wanderers showed us the benefit of practising short corners slotting their first one home from a well worked move our conceding an unnecessary corner from a sloppy tackle in the 25. The first was a product of the left hand side of the defence being overloaded and Wanderers queuing up to roll the ball home.

From the point of the second going in there was only going to be one winner and although we had three more short corners we never looked like threatening the goal until Simon Bray popped one home two minutes from the end for the umpire to rule it out for some unknown reason. Even so it would have been too little too late and in any event we did not deserve anything from the game against a side that was better drilled, fitter and faster than us who cracked the ball about at real pace. Wanderers were without a doubt the best side we have faced this tear – not only because we competed for a mere 20 minutes but because of the control they had for 75% of the game, snuffing out most of our offensive play. A switch in the middle towards the end gave us a slightly different impetus and we should now look hard and honestly at ourselves and decide if we wish to coast for the remainder of the season or change our attitude and approach, start training and resurrect our faltering season.

Time and in particular the next two weeks will tell.David Knapp

Tulse Hill 1 Ladies 1 A 9.30am push back meant an early start for the ladies, especially as we were having to travel over to Tulse Hill and Dulwich. The start of the match was fairly eventful in itself as at 9.30 we were short of a goalkeeper an umpire and a striker, all travelling up from Sussex, and the journey taken even longer than anticipated. Luckily by 9.35 they arrived just in time as the game could not be held up any longer than 9.40. So with no warm-up Katy padded up and ran onto the pitch. The game eventually started at 9.40 minus the captain and vice captain as at 9.38 Tulse Hill informed us our cars couldn’t be parked in the centre car park and that the ticketman was on his way round! (tactics….?) Helen and I moved our cars and ran a good ½ mile up the road back to the pitch to discover the game had started. We were obviously on the back foot from the start as the girls moved into some unfamiliar positions to cover myself and Hels, luckily we had two subs! We subbed onto the pitch but the unsettlement of the start left us struggling to find our footing and playing our game. We struggled to get organised for the first 15 minutes, TH pressing us hard and Kety having to make some storming saves (we shall consider not warming her up more often!). But our defence of Ros, Tux, Rosie and the two Helens held strong and they failed to score. As we began to settle into our game we put some pressure back on them and had a couple of good breaks some good crosses into the circle but failed to convert. At half time the score was 0-0.

We went out hard in the second half, determined to have a better start than the first, and within minutes were attacking there goal with a couple a near misses. The midfield of Vikki, Ana, Sarah Hardiman and myself upping the work rate. We won a few short corners but no conversions. The first substitution we had in the second half was unusually the umpire! Poor Nigel wasn’t feeling best and fortunately the umpire for the following match stepped in for him! Tulse Hill kept the pressure on though also winning short corners and eventually managed to score a goal leaving us 1-0 down. We didn’t let our heads go down though and having the advantage of subs this week meant that our forwards of Nina, Dora, May could keep their work rate high and keep putting the TH defense under pressure closing down their free hits and intercepting balls. Our work rate was paying off as we began to dominate possession. Left back Muriel found herself in the usual position of in the oppositions circle by the post and came close to scoring but couldn’t quite convert! Eventually the pressure paid off and from a long corner, and some good crossing throughout the team Dora managed to put the ball beyond the keepers reach! 1-1. We continued to press after levelling with several good chances and 1 1/2 minutes form time had a penaly corner but TH held strong. The match fininshed 1-1 another five minutes and it may just have gone our way! It was a great team effort from the girls who all played really well and did well to keep our heads up and pull it back. An excellent performance to take us into next weeks match at Wimbledon!

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

Jax gets engaged after 26-mile chase

Congratulations to Jackie Joyce on her superb run in Monday’s Dublin Marathon. She finished in 926th place in a time of 3:26:30. I am reliably informed this is the best time for a member of the OCLHC, beating Rosie's time of 3:29:32 for the London Marathon set in 2006!

Better was to come ... Helen Hawes told the website: “On Jax's return from Dublin, Ian was obviously so impressed that he got down on one knee and proposed ... she said yes and then duly turned up to training two hours later (note the commitment boys!). Ian wanted to propose in Dublin but the result of too much Guinness for a highly trained athlete meant that Jax may never have remembered so he decided to wait …I am sure we all know the feeling (being highly trained athletes!)”

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