It was with some justified trepidation that the Gondoliers set off to play top of the table Oxford Hawks.
We are used to them fielding a very strong team for their home matches and so it proved today. However, the Gondoliers, playing a 4, 4, 2 formation with no left wing, started the better team pressing the Oxford Hawks back into their own half and injecting the ball at pace into the Hawks' D.
With Wylie sprinting into some really good positions and often drawing a foul from the opposition, we won a string of free hits and long corners, but regrettably no penalty corners. Despite this pressure. no clear cut chances were created.
Gradually Oxford Hawks started to build their game by using their right defender as an easy exit from defence. They began to launch a series of attacks, but with Raper dominant in the Gondoliers' goal and Savage, Taylor and Asdell excelling at their tackles and interceptions, it was still 0 - 0 at half time.
In the second half our midfield of Mullins, Windsor-Lewis, Shelbourne and Basey continued to contest every ball, but we never quite managed to retain possession sufficiently to give good service to Wylie, Gould and Carney up front.
Eventually Oxford Hawks managed to squeeze a shot between Raper and Asdell to take the lead. Then shortly afterwards Savage tried one too many lunge tackles and limped off with a torn hamstring.
As the game drew towards its end the Gondoliers started to push forward for the elusive equalizer with Shelbourne shelling (note the alliteration) a ball across the D to find Windsor-Lewis unmarked. Unfortunately Steve did not realize that he had time to stop the ball and his stick just failed to connect with the speeding projectile.
We continued to press, but the final whistle went with Oxford Hawks the deserved winners.