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.