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Seconds come second in battle of seconds.

02 November 2019, 12:00, Banbury Road North (Near)

Men's 2s 0 - 2 Reading Men's 2s

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Oh dear! I hate writing match reports when we haven't won and I've been putting this one off as a consequence.  Saturday morning had obviously not gone well with Eddie's men getting spanked on the box.

I had spent the previous evening in Cardiff with 30 ex work colleagues from Wales which was a gilt edged opportunity to dish it out that I didn't pass up. As a consequence my in box has been full of smug messages from God's own country over the last 24 hours - richly deserved I fear.

Saturday afternoon brought the visit of Reading 2's - equal on points but with a slightly better goal difference. As they represented a very real challenge I shall pay some attention this week to proceedings on the field of play.

Significantly our coach - who I blame fully for our subsequent 2-0 reverse - had invested in a new and  much larger magnetic white board. I should explain that Dunners is much given to moving blue and red counters around his precious board to elaborate on the numerous stratagems he has devised to outwit whomever happen to be our opposition on the day. In that regard there are alarming similarities between his coaching style and Blakemore's, the previous incumbent, who held that position for 6 weeks or so before crumbling under domestic pressures. 

I assume that Dunners is an accomplished backgammon player since he moves the counters with astonishing pace around the board while elaborating on the wide variety of tactical challenges the boys are likely to encounter in the forthcoming contest. So fast, in fact, that I struggle to keep up, and, quite often, don't understand a word he says. I do wonder if anyone else in the changing room has the same problem. Of course it is possible that I'm just too old and stuck in a time warp - a bit like Roy Hodgson who always looks like he isn't going to survive the game but that's another topic altogether.

I'm certainly not convinced by the "what if" questions that the coach's presentation routinely provokes. It does seem to me that the questioner may just be trying to persuade himself  (and demonstrate to everyone else) that he has understood the game plan for the day when the absolute reverse is true.

We had a few students like that when I was at "probably the best University in the world" who just asked questions to show off how clever they were. It used to make me quite cross. I , also, can't ignore the fact that we have quite a few Oxford graduates in the 2's at the moment - just saying.

Anyway I was taught that hockey is a simple game - you just have to keep passing and keep possession and goals will come so I don't really have any truck with cutting and pressing and suchlike. I feel I might have said something like this before in an earlier report and since this has now turned into a bit of a rant I'll move on to why we lost the game against Reading. We lost because our forwards didn't get any advice from Dunners and because we failed to score. No more complicated than that.

The trouble with his larger than life whiteboard is, that to show it to the team, Dunners had to rest it in front of himself. So - looking over the top of the board he would then move the counters at breakneck speed (as described above) with the board facing his audience (the team). The problem with this, which I spotted straightaway, is that he has short arms so he couldn't reach the counters at the bottom of the board who represented our three strikers. As a consequence they didn't move at all throughout the team talk. Do I need to explain any further? I very much doubt it.

All I'm going to say now is that Reading 2's took a 2 goal lead in the first half and although the boys came back well, especially in the second period, we were a bit toothless when it came to shots on target. Although they ran around a lot their endeavour was not blessed with success. Perhaps the front line thought......... well I don't really know what they might have thought. I know that I thought our coach should revert to his old, tried and tested, smaller whiteboard because at least he can reach all areas on it. On the other hand I could be wrong.

We could have done better but didn't. Perhaps Eddie Jones is thinking the same thing.

At least Eddie didn't get drenched which has now happened to me two weeks running

Disappointing nonetheless.

Thanks to Clive Jones for the excellent photos.

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