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Less than 'Magnificent' Mens 7th XI claim 3 points against Thame

22 January 2022, 15:00, Banbury Road North (Near)

Men's 7s 3 - 1 Thame Men's 3s

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The Mens 7’s have had a lengthy mid season break.  The last game was an icy late November affair against league leaders Wootton but at the half way point we were sitting in 2nd place behind Thame 3’s who had strung together a good run of wins. Hawks had a comfortable 6-1 win over them at the start of the season against a team which was very much a development side, but the team who turned up on Saturday seemed to have dropped the ‘youth’ element which probably reflected their recent winning form.

Hawks had a full squad of 16 featuring a classic 7’s line up including ‘golden oldies’ Breen (coming back from long term injury) and Wilsdon (who was standing in as GK as our junior keepers are now required for school fixtures). It has been pleasing that training sessions on Wednesday evenings have been well attended and skipper Venables decided to keep the pre match talk brief…’Lets just keep doing the basics right and move the ball’.  It was a classic management error where concise instructions were sacrificed for the sake of brevity.  What he should have added was… ‘and don’t forget, pass the ball to your own player and not the opposition!’.

The game started pretty positively and Hawks came close in the first minute of the game with Francis Overton driving down the left wing and then passing into the D to secure a PC from a Thame foot.  Shirley was called to the top of the D but failed at the first and second attempts.  Thame then pressed hard with strong midfield play and Hawks were unable to escape from their half.  Forgetting that the Festive season had ended, we decided to pass the ball accurately to a Thame player at most opportunities and persisted in going down congested corridors when we should be spreading the ball wide. Robust keeping from Wilsdon prevented Thame from scoring despite several short corner gifts.  Against the run of play Hawks did manage to get some breaks with Venables driving from halfway to the right, finding Andy Graham for a one-two into the D.  In a text book training move, Venables topped the ball which double bounced/ dribbled towards the goal. The Thame keeper was also clearly having an absent moment forgetting the basic concept of the game and lifted his foot to allow the ball into the goal.  No one was more amazed than Venables (well, other than the entire Thame team), but a goals a goal and it seemed to buoy Hawks, temporarily. Shortly after, Thame launch a further attack and this time Sri V decided it was time to equal the score by pushing the ball firmly into Hawks own goal past a bemused Wilsdon.  Luckily the ball was hit outside the D and it was just (another)penalty corner.  Then the game started to get a bit heated as a first hit on goal deflected off Wilsdon’s shoulder, to his displeasure…but Jim soon restored order with some judicious use of the green card.

The half time talk bought Hawks to their senses and the second half was much brighter.  We worked out how to get the ball out of our half from the 16 hits/ started to pass to our own players/ and moved the ball wide.  Elliott came close with a near deflection from a Volans strike into the D and then Francis O did the same with the desired result to an appreciative crowd (all 3 of them).

We had still not entirely learnt how to play hockey though.  James B decided to continue to pass the ball to the oppo and also did a fantastic ‘dancing on ice’ impression much to the Skippers displeasure.  

To add to the displeasure, Shirley decided he could take on 3 players in a move from the back, only to remember he finds it hard enough to take on 1 and was dully robbed of the ball. Finally, Hack took on the mantle of ‘gift giver’ and proceed to hand Thame at least 4 short corners in a row.  It was clearly just so he could practice his sprinting prowess as he managed to redeem himself and deflect all 4.

In brighter news, Booby Breen, had a great come back and worked hard on the left wing and delivered a couple of great hits across the goal mouth and held and passed the ball well, leading to our final goal by James B.

At 3-0 and 10 mins to go we felt comfortable enough to allow Thame to pull one back, but Wilsdon also dispatched some other near chances.  Volans also worked tirelessly in the middle of the park and made numerous tackles with an effective long reach.

3-1 was a good win in the circumstances and MOM is shared by Sam Volans for his defensive work and setting up the 2nd goal/ and Richard Wilsdon for assertive keeping.

Thanks to Jacqui and Jim for umpiring and to Evelyn Hargraves for the great photos.


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