Recent personnel shortages with the RAF meant that Captain Buzz was called into action far away from Oxford along with Dave Sellers and with Hutts meditating at a weekend retreat, the Falcons midfield had quite a different look and feel about it. On the positive side, Dunlo and Billers reported back for duty and even H was available again after a long absence.
The changes in personnel and line-up meant that the normally free flowing hockey that spectators have come to expect was sadly missing from our game. Winchester proved to have solid hockey skills on the ball and were frustrating the build up in midfield and the service to the forwards. With Doggett dropping into the left-mid position we were also missing some penetration and finishing skills up front. Half way into the first half Falcons were beginning to get into their stride and Mark White finally broke the resistance with a crisp finish, fending off the frustration which was creeping into the game.
Sumser kept making hovering runs up the right hand side that would normally have resulted in celebratory scenes in oppositions’ circles, but for one reason or another either possession was lost or the killer pass didn’t arrive. Dave ‘Vardy’ White was making ample positive and penetrating forward runs, but balls into stick were lacking. But as the game was ambling toward half-time a few short corners were awarded and from one of those Doggett finally put some daylight between the sides.
The second half started very similar to how the first half finished, with Falcons having the bulk of possession and territory without necessary much to show for it. Winchester were happy to deploy a zonal defensive line, throwing bodies and stick tackles into the mix when required to break up play. Luckily the contact details of their left back were obtained and passed on to Hutts who, although absent this afternoon, had been looking for additional wood-chopping personnel for his thriving log business <joke>.
Falcons defence was rarely tested. Jonesy was a commanding presence in the middle, Blommers was roaming up the right side in support and Billers or H were determined and solid on the left. Wilsdon in goal had just about enough to do to justify his match-fee but was not seriously threatened at any stage.
A few tactical changes in the line-up seemed to spur Falcons on to better things and when the opposition began to tire in the latter stages the goals finally began to flow. First Dunlo ensured that all 3 points stayed in Oxford and Doggett quickly made it 4-0 to end the contest properly. There was still time for Pooky to roll around the opposition circle on his tummy and somehow head the 5th goal in strange circumstances and for Doggett to be awarded his hat-trick goal at the end after a lengthy VAR delay.
Overall, a satisfying result after a non-vintage performance, sterner tests await over the next 2 weeks - Come back Buzz, all is forgiven!
Thanks to Evelyn Hargraves for the excellent photos.