Players, fans and hockey lovers - It’s a bittersweet report this week following the announcement that hockey will be suspended for what we hope is a short lockdown for the nation.
The pre match chat centred around this topic of conversation and we stepped onto the astro determined to ‘end’ on a high and did we ever!
Goals, goals, glorious goals! But let’s start at the beginning... Oundle ladies 1st team had an 11 strong squad this week and were up against Wildcatz in Wellingborough. The heavens opened for a hefty shower during the warm up so it’s fair to say it was a soggy start to the game all round. Wildcatz kicked off with skilled possession and slick passes but Oundle made the most of an interception by our mid fielders and quickly got their first goal scored by Kayleigh Pottage in her debut game for Oundle. Welcome Kayleigh, it’s fair to say you made a lasting first impression!
Wildcatz quickly retaliated and despite some epic defensive play from Oundle scored their first goal from perseverance with the rebounds! Oundle were playing well and were not phased by the 1-1 score at half time.
Our opposition were a strong, forceful team but by the second half we were reading their game well and making interception after interception. Our second goal came from a beautifully executed short corner between Sophie Rookes and Tasha Darrington. A sleek back and forth and then beautifully over the line by Sophie. Charlotte Rainbow had a cracking game today, increasing in confidence and speed each week it seems. There was also a beautiful run by Kayleigh and Tori Short up the left wing with them both showing off their mid air skills! As if she hadn’t done enough already, Kayleigh scored again bringing us our third goal and cementing our lead. But we weren’t done yet... and despite a nasty injury to her heel Tasha Darrington scored our fourth goal!!!
The game concluded 4-1 to Oundle and player of the match was Kayleigh Pottage with 70% of the votes! Have a safe remainder of 2020 all and we hope to be back on the astro as soon as possible.
Well hello again avid readers... Oundle ladies 1st team met Wellingborough on the AstroTurf today as the season continues to pick up pace.
Oundle were ready to pick themselves up from last week, bandage the wounds quite literally and put their best stick forward.
We got off to a flying start and made our presence known with a lot of effort around the attacking D. Wellingborough defended in force making themselves a difficult wall to break through. A big thank you to Victoria and Emily Ferguson, a mother-daughter power duo who stepped up for the first team this week and demonstrated some excellent attacking play. Emma Aubury had a strong game as always making some superb runs, long balls and interceptions for the defence.
It’s fair to say it was a frustrating game for Oundle this week... The seemingly excessive use of the umpires whistle resembled a 90s rave at times! Every minor foul by Oundle (including some fictitious ones) were spotted a mile off but that eagle-eyed umpiring didn’t always apply to our opposition. This resulted in a disputed short corner being awarded to Wellingborough in the first half from which they scored meaning the score at half time was 1-0 to Wellingborough.
This spurred us on however and quickly in the second half Sophie Rookes scored for Oundle!! Wellingborough are a skilled, ambitious team and Oundle pride themselves on not getting riled during the game but it was a tall ask today. Wellingborough scored again in the second half after a clear foul. This was widely contested by both teams and after a brief exchange between umpires this second goal was disallowed. The final minutes of the game were a battle of wills for both teams but the score remained 1-1 at the final whistle.
Karen Whatley-Darrington deserves a mention this week for a number of epic saves on the goal line as well as fairly challenging the umpires on behalf of the team. Player of the match went to Sophie Rookes for her undeniable skill and being our goal scorer today!
Still without a venue to play home games, Oundle were on the road again, this time to Great Glen (the one just South of Leicester, rather than in the Highlands of Scotland) to face Leicester 2s.
A team made up largely of university students, Oundle were expecting a strong test after the relatively lesser challenge provided by Melton 2s in the first game of the season.
Without the planets being in perfect alignment and the date not being a recognised national holiday in Guatemala, it meant that the side would be without captain Ashby and fellow plough-jockey Martin for this important fixture. However, the 13-strong squad were keen to maintain their 100% start, and put a marker down to the other sides hoping to be competing at the top of the league this season.
After what seemed like hours of COVID-safe bureaucracy, the teams were allowed on to the pitch. From the off, it was obvious this was going to be a close encounter. Both sides were very evenly matched, but Oundle’s strong midfield and defensive presence meant that they were edging the possession and territory stats.
Breakthrough for Oundle
Halfway through an arm-wrestle of a first half, Oundle found their opening. Player-Coach Ellis, won the ball in a lucky tackle, and with his head down, speculatively and hopefully hit the ball into the Leicester circle, where the ever-willing Peter Wilson saw the opportunity and darted on to the ball, skilfully knocking it past the keeper with the deft touch of a clinical striker.
It was no less than Oundle deserved. The Oundle defence were solid, and shielded by a Jordan Henderson-style presence of Peter "Albi" Allett, with a typical strong and stable performance. Adrian Milanovanovanovic was the outstanding player from the back four, with some trademark interceptions and imperious progression with the ball out of defence. This left young Dan Darlow as a spectator in goal for most of the half, but was there when called into action on a couple of occasions with some smart saves. Youngster John Brown also displayed why he’s one to keep an eye for the future with some solid right-back play, and a solid example of Oundle's youth policy.
The second-half saw a continuation of the play from the first, with both sides giving their all to either bring the game back level for Leicester, or to finally put it to bed in Oundle’s case. Richard Cunningplan, back from his nuptials, and just happy to be out of the house and back on the hockey pitch – tormented the Leicester left-back throughout with powerful attacks down the right wing. Oundle had the clearest chances, and Ed Leatherfeet, who showed up in the right spot on a number of occasions, could have had a hat-trick on another day. John PikBotha was tireless with his movement, but just lacked the finishing finesse shown by Pickering in the game against Melton.
A hard fought victory, that Oundle should be proud of. Maybe a few more goals would have given a more accurate reflection of the play, but the clean sheet was cause for celebration. Next week, Oundle travel to Northampton Saints 3s to play out the 100th meeting of these two sides this year. Oundle will be looking to preserve the only 100% record in the league.
Final score: 0 - 3
Oundle ladies 1st team journeyed across the county this week to play Daventry in a long awaited match after a frozen pitch hindered their last game.
As always, Oundle were in good spirits and ready to play their game. The team had a little shake up this week as some of our seasoned teammates were unavailable. We had some debut performances, position changes and minor casualties but we still enjoyed some superb hockey. A huge thank you to Emily Ferguson who had an excellent game for the first team this week and brought her energetic youth and skill to the match. She would definitely be welcomed back with open arms!
Charlotte Rainbow had strong game play on the wing today, facilitating a lot of ball travel to our attacking D. All the forward and midfield players deserve praise for getting to the attacking D countless times but we struggled to get a clear shot on goal and Daventry were defending well and in force.
Undeniably our opposition had a strong side out today. They took full advantage of some powerful long balls from their defence which broke through our formation resulting in quick entry into our D and 3 quick, successive goals in the first half. Their attacking players were determined to increase their goal count and kept a steady barrage of attack against Oundle. However our defenders, especially Lucy Belcher, were having none of it. Oundle were down to 10 players before half time and it is a true testament to their ability and determination that no further goals were scored despite our side being outnumbered.
Lucy was on top form today making some superb interceptions and runs to support defensive play and quite rightly earned player of the match.
The final score of 3-0 to Daventry was perhaps a fair win by our opposition but it does not reflect the number of outstanding saves by Oundle defenders nor the efforts by our forwards up front.
Final score: 1 - 2
Whatta game, whatta game, whatta game, whatta mighty good game!
Oundle ladies 1st team took on Kettering 2s this afternoon. The team were in the fortuitous position of having a sub this week and the squad looked strong.
Sophie Rookes was on her ‘A’ game today scoring her first goal of the season within 60 seconds of the starting whistle!
Kettering 2s went on to keep us very busy in mid field but Laura Pakenham and Emma Aubury were a superb duo as always today keeping the ball away from the defensive D.
Towards the end of the first half, there was a clash in our defensive D in which a Kettering player lost their stick. Some say the stick was dropped, others say the Kettering player was disarmed unfairly....The umpires however were particularly scrupulous toward the Oundle side today and as a result awarded a flick to Kettering who subsequently scored and brought the score to 1-1 at half time.
The second half saw some serious mileage of the ball up and down the pitch.
Throughout the game, Kettering were awarded at least 7-8 short corners, quite often in quick succession, but Karen Whatley-Darrington was on top form as were the defensive line and together they didn’t let a single ball in. A key moment still sticking in everyone’s mind was Colleen Burns victoriously saving the ball mid air on the goal line, showing her true determination to the game. With perhaps 10 minutes of play left, Oundle were awarded their only short corner of the game and Sophie Rookes scored again off a rebound bringing the final score to 2-1.
Sophie had an outstanding game as well as scoring twice and was player of the match today with nearly all the votes!
Final score: 4 - 2
Oundle ladies first team faced Saints 2’s this week in Moulton.
Welcome back to Emily Wagstaff for her first game in 2 seasons! The game got off to a fast paced start with both teams reaching their attacking D within minutes. There was strong defensive play today with some outstanding interceptions by Lucy Belcher and Nikkita Welman.
Saints 2’s were well drilled and by half time had scored 3 goals. Early in the second half, Saints 2’s scored their 4th goal but Oundle came back fighting in the second half with goals by Hannah Postlethwaite and Kerry-Ann Graham. The game concluded 4-2 to Saints this week but it was a fantastic match all round. Special mention this week to Karen Whatley-Darrington who was on fire saving more attempts on goal by Saints and also to Sophie Rookes whose skill on the ground and in the air is second to none.
Player of the match this week went to Colleen Burns.
Final score: 1 - 6
About 200 days without a competitive hockey match, the men of Oundle Hockey club were the visitors at Melton Sports Village, and eager to get back to hockey.
Without access to the Oundle School pitches, the team has been restricted to fitness training and a few warm-up games against Northampton Saints. So the team were champing at the bit, despite the unsavoury weather conditions.
A strong 15-man squad made the short trip over to Melton, including the lesser-spotted captain, Tristan Ashby, who has been plagued with injuries over the last few seasons, having seemingly run over a black cat, whilst walking under a ladder, and smashing a mirror.
After a rousing team-talk, the Oundle team set out to make their mark on the league from the off. Things didn’t go to plan, and even with the words of Ashby ringing in their ears, it was Melton who took the early lead. A lapse in midfield and defence allowed the ball to travel to the edge of the circle, leading to a short corner. Maybe the rustiness was showing, maybe the lack of pitch-time was a contributing factor, but the sloppy defending was punished from a well-worked short corner that put the home side 1-0 in front.
Would Oundle react positively, or would their heads drop and Melton go on to dominate? Thankfully for Oundle, it was the former and the goal seemed to snap them out of their malaise. Within a few minutes, and after some good link-up play and sharp passing, Oundle worked their way into the Melton circle to win a short corner.
After a brief, and socially-distanced huddle, Oundle unleashed the world-famous author and tractor driver, George Martin, who dispatched the ball into the bottom left corner like Ben Stokes notching up another boundary at Lord’s.
Oundle could now smell blood, and stepped their game up, with some great movement from the forwards and good passing interplay from the midfield.
The next breakthrough came when another short corner was awarded after some good Oundle pressure. This time Oundle looked to their second ginger option, and Oundle’s Eastern European star, Adrian Milanovic, who skilfully put an unstoppable drag-flicked shot into the top corner that the defender on the post could only watch sail by his head.
Oundle didn’t let up, and a period of flowing, passing hockey resulted in a debut goal from debutant Ed Weatherhead on his debut, who calmly dispatched Oundle’s third.
Mark ‘Macca’ Herickx, returning to his old stomping ground had a chance to add a fourth, as he sprinted into the circle, rounded the keeper, but could only fire wide from the tight angle.
The respite for Melton was short-lived, and George R. R. Martin, showed Macca how it’s done, with a brilliant individual move that saw him nutmeg a defender near the halfway line, and run on to take it round the keeper, coolly slotting home his second and Oundle’s fourth.
At this point it was clear Oundle were dominating the match, and some sustained pressure saw the unintelligible John Pickstone cleverly find space at the top of the circle, where he showed his usual patience, composure and accuracy to find the back of the net.
The half-time whistle was welcomed by Melton who were now looking at damage limitation.
The second half saw fewer opportunities, but did see arguably the best goal of the game. Starting in Oundle’s half, a breakaway opportunity saw Pete Wilson run 60 yards to get on the end of some fine interplay between George Martin and Ed Weatherhead, to slot home what would be Oundle’s 6th and final goal of the game.
There was some disappointment for Martin, who saw a fine goal that would have given him his hattrick, and the match ball, cruelly ruled out by VAR operated by the Melton defenders.
The final action of the game saw Oundle’s player-coach, Peter Ellis, sent from the pitch with a yellow card for a savage ‘ball and all’ challenge, with the umpire clearly unaware of who he was.
A very promising start overall by this Oundle team that blends youth and experience, and a hope that promotion might be the reward at the end of the season.