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Magnificent 7's succumb to Falcons in Game 2 of 3

24 April 2021, 09:00, Banbury Road North (Near)

Falcons 5 - 2 Oxford Hawks Men's 7s

Game 2 of 3 in the Spring Test saw The Magnificents and Falcons take to the pitch at the earlier time of 0900 on a glorious spring day.  Skipper Venables was optimistic that after the first 2-2 encounter that the 7's could approach the game with renewed confidence and combat the Falcons slick passing game with solid defensive work and speed on the break.

Skippers Burrell and Venables communicated mid week to confirm the early start time was agreeable.  The mind games also started with Burrell advising of a weakened side due to the loss of paceman Ferrett and first choice keeper Wilsdon, whilst Venables admitted the 7's strike force was diminished due to off games notes received from Darby and Breen.  Honours even...?

On Friday night the 7's had a squad of 14 but by Saturday morning this was reduced to 12 with Elliott and White added to the off games list.  Shirley arrived looking more presentable having visited the barbers midweek but the eyes reflected the collateral damage inflected by Friday's excursion to an outside hostelry.  We swapped Ollies this week with Ollie Graham returning to Uni and replaced  by  'Dolly', Dom Baillie. Richard Webb was moved upfront to partner Rob McGrigor due to the loss of 3 of our key strikers.  James Burroughs, Andy Graham, Dolly and Venables would have no subs in the midfield whilst at the back Phil Hargreaves would have to marshal a back line of Shirley, Karl Hack, Pete Hobbs, Mark Stoker and Mike Image.

The 7's strategy depended on passing around the Falcons, using the width and hoping this week without Ferret the Falcons would be less mobile. Before the match started though the 7's were unsettled, firstly, by the fact the water cannons were being employed (the 7's never get this pitch treatment before any of their games) and secondly, Ferret clearly had managed to do his weekend chores early and was bounding around the pitch with his usual energy.

The first half didn't really go to plan.  The Magnificents took too long on the ball and telegraphed passes were easily intercepted. To be fair territory and possession were pretty equal but the Falcons took their chances well and 2nd choice keeper Jonny Atkins kept the Magnificents at bay.  The Falcons defense was also 'robust' and didn't allow the 7's anytime on the ball. The short corners we did secure we squandered.

Half time allowed for reflection that we'd had comebacks in earlier league games and we were playing some good hockey at times.

In the 2nd half we took more energy to the game and started to secure our own interceptions with Venables, Burroughs and Dolly linking up and driving hard up the centre and left.  We clawed back a goal through a Venables aerial strike from a rebound off Atkins and a McGrigor nudge in.  The Falcons pressed on with 2 further 2nd half goals to put the game out of reach.

Positives.....it was a great morning....a hugely enjoyable game...ever grateful for umpiring from Jacqui B and Geoff P....we've got a final game still to come.

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