I've said previously that it's tough running a 2nd XI in a predominantly 1st XI league and it doesn't get any easier towards the season's end.
On Saturday the chums travelled across the city to take on Oxford - a side with a solid nucleus of students some of whom had started the campaign in magenta and black. The 2's expected a rigorous examination and were not disappointed. Oxford were as competent as we expected them to be - after all three of the boys were deemed good enough to turn out for the 2's until their collective departure to the delights of Brookes Sports Centre. The home side had a full squad. We had 12.
On Saturday Hawks 1's had run, quite properly and justifiably, with a squad of 16, so that by the time the walking wounded were added to the n/a list the selection committee had to ignore 20 players before the first name could be put on the 2's team sheet. Add to that statistic the absence of Cameron (stuck in Berkshire), Conrad (taking an English exam) and Harry (playing for his school team).
Of those who did manage to turn out we numbered Robson who had spent most of the week in the delivery suite at the JR (thank you Mrs Robson for producing a second beautiful daughter on Thursday afternoon and not Saturday and many congratulations!!), Connor, who had flown into Heathrow on Saturday morning from South Africa and then come hotfoot to the game and le petit entrepreneur who arrived dressed in a green wooly jumper rather than a tracksuit and who now plays almost entirely on one leg because the remainder of his horrible little body is totally entombed in bandages. As an aside I'm actually getting quite concerned about him as his behaviour is becoming increasingly odd - for him the season clearly can't end soon enough.
So, on any view we fielded a somewhat ragbag collection of journeymen for a contest that carries a bit more edge than most of the other league encounters.
In fact the disparate collection of chums who represented this great club did rather better in the contest than I feared we might. The first half was quite encouraging with the demented marionette making his presence felt to some effect, Jules being all energy and bustle , and everyone contributing to some controlled passages of play where, occasionally, we did manage to treasure the ball as we should. Robson wandered into the circle for a short corner which he determinedly finished off to level an earlier strike at the far post by MJ for Oxford (something he never did for us). 1-1 at half time and still in with a shout.
Oxford scored a spectacular goal early in the second half and that, effectively, was curtains. Chasing the game was rather too demanding as Oxford's numerical advantage began to tell. As it did the chums discipline which had served them well in the first half began to fragment. Turnovers were routinely conceded as legs began to tire and Oxford's final goal was by no means an unfair reflection of the balance of play.
3-1 to Oxford and I really couldn't complain - much as I'd like to have done. A disappointing and painful outcome even though this was a dead rubber for both sides who are in no danger of promotion or relegation. Can't deny I didn't much enjoy it though.