Men’s 4s v. Slough 2s – 16.2.13 match report

Oxford  2-1  Slough

This week, your correspondent found himself promoted to dropped to on secondment with our 4th team, hence avoiding the unique joy of an away trip to West Hampstead, with the words of encouragement received (whilst shopping) from the old warhorse (Wharton) the night before – “We don’t appreciate stealing in here, now p*** off” – still ringing in his ears.

Skipper Savory had billed this as the side’s biggest match of the season so far – at least until the next one – and, with his words of wisdom, a side rich in balance between youthful naivety (Devaney, Dudgeon, Hogben) and grizzled experience (Orme, Fletcher, Wharton) took to the field confident of doing the business. Slough lined up with a similar blend, although one of their players had taken to wearing solely base layers, and looked like (as a Slough player described) a sack of potatoes.

Oxford started brightly, linking well through the midfield into attack, and winning several short corners, but failing to convert this early pressure into goals. Oxford remained confident in their game plan, and with Wharton and Fletcher effectively shackling Slough’s two most influential players, continued to press up the field. Upon winning a fourth short corner, Orme was overheard to comment on the quality of the prior injections. Your correspondent, who had provided this service, but now had handed duties to Hudson (Ben) retorted with the motivational words “If you’re going to make comments like that, you better do something decent with this one.” Orme duly slotted the goal away – 1-0 Oxford.

Oxford continued to control the play: the back four of the Skipper, Young, Fletcher, Orme, and briefly Pritchard (whilst Orme went to fix his looks for more Baywatch-style running) cutting out any dangerous attacks, and the forwards, gamely led by Mr Hughes and the designer of Ted Kravitz’s favourite front wing, running tirelessly. Winning a second short corner, a neat 1-2 between Orme and Young saw Orme lift the ball over the Slough keeper – 2-0 Oxford into half time.

Slough came out in the second half with more urgency, but Oxford used their bench to good effect, ensuring their solid team play continued. Oxford faced a tidal onslaught as Slough drove high up the field, with Slough being rewarded with a number of decisions in Oxford’s half. Slough finally converted this pressure into a goal – 2-1 Oxford.

Not to be intimidated, Oxford continued with their solid defending, breaking well through the pace of the front line, particularly Sheldon, who was showing an increasing influence on the right wing, and perhaps was starting to run off the effects of a pub crawl around Abingdon the night before. After one particularly successful breakaway, Mr Hughes found himself unmarked at the top of the D. Inspired by England’s fine recent 6 Nations performances, Mr Hughes converted the drop goal for 3 points. Sadly, conversions count for little in hockey, much to the amusement of the onlooking John Dykes.

Although Oxford broke well on several occasions, the forwards were unable to find the final pass into the D, perhaps missing the impact of the intelligent, good looking and frankly lazy Burke, who was away with the 3s.

So 2-1 Oxford it finished, a vital 3 points in the bag. Credit must go to Wharton and Fletcher, whose control of Slough’s two more influential players had seen them dropped further and further away from Oxford’s goal until their threat was diminished. Roll on next week, and Oxford 4s’ next biggest match of the season…

Team: Hogben (GK), Savory (c), Fletcher, Orme, Young, Pritchard, Wharton, Dudgeon, Devaney, Husdon, Bissell, Hughes, Sheldon

MOM: Orme, Wharton

Scorer: Orme x 2

DOD: Pritchard (plus ca change), Devaney

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