England Hockey Women’s Masters Over 35s Trophy
Oxford 3-3 Leamington (Leamington won 4-2 on penalty strokes)
Oxford’s Ladies’ Over-35s side had one of our best games in our 5-year existence to date against strong opposition in this Trophy match. We were already a little worried when they turned up and none of them had grey hair or appeared to be anywhere near 40…
Despite the fact that Leamington had to start the game without their delayed goalkeeper, Oxford’s first penalty corner attempt was well-saved by a defender on the line and then Leamington took us a little by surprise by how strongly they started, and by scoring early (and then unsportingly adding a goalie). Even our official canine mascot decided at this point that it was best to hide under a blanket for the rest of the game…
However, we weathered the storm, had a bit of luck, and worked our way back into the game. The defence battled away, with some great interceptions by Marianne, solid marking from Bernie, speedy chasing back and hassling from Rach H, one-on-one tackles from birthday girl Captain Katie, and sliding tackles and goal-line saves from Emma, who was brilliant throughout. Our midfield was also working really hard, with young man of the match Helen seemingly everywhere, making some great interceptions and attacking superbly. Lammey’s excellent distribution helped to get the forwards more into the game, with Tinny, Anisha and Nadine all causing problems up front.
We won a few short corners and drew level when Claire’s strike was saved but vets’ debutant Suzie pounced on the rebound. After some discussion between the umpires, the initial stike was judged to have been below the level of the back-board (just) and the score was 1-1.
Leamington again took the lead in the second half, but Suzie then found Tinny in the D and she fired home to equalise again. It was hard work, but NZ Bernie in particular kept diving in to intercept the ball and break down the opposition’s moves, well-supported by our solid defence. Laura definitely had more to do than in the previous round, and made some really good saves, including the occasional one-on-one.
Despite all this, Oxford conceded for a third time late in the game, as Claire tried to cut out a cross but instead only suceeded in helpfully deflecting it to the waiting centre-forward on the penalty spot, who gave Laura no chance. In the final minutes, Oxford frantically sought to level the game, throwing the kitchen sink at Leamington. Claire had a lovely chance to equalise, but couldn’t shoot straight. Thankfully, Suzie had no such problems when – with just seconds remaining – Lammey put a beautiful ball through to her a few metres out from goal. Boom! 3-3 and no time for a restart.
There’s no extra time in these matches, so it was straight to penalty strokes. Up stepped Tinny, penalty-taker extraordinaire… and shocked us all by missing. Suzie and Katie made no such mistake, and Laura managed to save one of theirs, and come desperately close to stopping another. Then Claire emulated Tinny (always one of my goal-scoring heroes) and shot disastrously wide. The next Leamington player stepped up and clinched it 4-2.
Despite the result, it was a brilliant Oxford team performance with representation right through the club, with players from the ladies’ 1st through to 6th teams, all working really well together. Many thanks to Captain Katie for doing a sterling job; to Sath for umpiring; to Emma for tasty teas; to Laura for fantastic cake; and to Leamington for a great match. We wish them well in the rest of the competition. We’ll be back next season, better than ever (perhaps after some penalty flick practice…?). Age is class!
Man of the Match: Helen
Scorers: Suzie x 2, Tinny
Match report by Claire