As James Keeling commented, “another chance to get rid of those cobwebs” as Dave Cooke’s Mens 4s took on local rivals Oxford 3s, who are due to play a league above us in MBBO Division 1 this season. Welcoming newcomers Mike and Rob, who slotted in more than efficiently at the back, the 4s had a usual feel and look to it, although lacking Boots and Gary Mahon, and the unseasonal weather was to play an undoubted part. With Pablo buzzing about with Neil Gallacher his usual statuesque self in the middle, we more than coped with the early forays by Oxford and had a few early chances, before Oxford scored with a fluky/ genius effort, the ball reverse crossed at about twenty foot high to the unmarked right wing who calmly slotted past the keeper. Parity achieved soon after as Jasper mishit a short corner for Brett to deflect in; it almost looked deliberate. Just before half time, Oxford retook the lead on the break and the one on one with Atkins fell nicely for the free striker who tapped in from a yard. However, the 4s were unbowed due to having the majority of possession and as the cobwebs dissipated, Hawks took control. Young Nick Mahon on the left continued to impress and Oxford struggled with the combination of Tom and Pablo, while the defence coped with everything easily, Charlie Stoker continuing his rapid improvement. Buoyed on by Dunners’ exhortations from the sidelines (and occasionally on pitch), Jasper slotted a corner to make it two all and the 4s were now rampant while the excellent Oxford keeper kept them in it, until an audacious reverse stick rebound from Brett put us 3-2 up, Tom Forrester completing the scoring with a cheeky reverse stick after good work down the left. Thanks to Geoff and Dave for blowing. Another friendly next week, probably in the sun, before we start properly in the freezing cold of October no doubt.
Additional players: Mike & Rob (apologies, no surnames provided)