Men 2nd

RHC 2nd XI set off for Farnham for a 4pm fixture on a wintry December afternoon.  Played under lights throughout, frost was not that far away.  Aldershot & Farnham 3rd XI, our opponents, were promoted as runners up to RHC 2nd XI two seasons ago.  However, last season’s results 3-3(H) and 0-6(A) ensured that RHC could not afford to be complacent.

Good 1st & 2nd XI availability ensured that RHC were able to travel with 14.  In defence: a back three of Ben M, Rob N and Ben D with Rob K as sweeper.  In midfield: Connor O’D and Art B wide, with Ali N, Zac C and Tom W central.  In attack:  Mozza S-S.  Initial substitutes:  Jamie S (def), Archie (wide mf) and Sam B (fwd/mf).  Pre match, Ali N briefed his plans, in particular, stressing the need to maintain our five-man midfield shape and to use the ball at pace.  Players seemed to be listening and, following a rather short warm-up, took to the field determined to build on last week’s fine performance.

In this respect, RHC could not have started better.  With barely a minute gone, Mozza chased an apparently lost cause high on the left, dived forward and sent a reverse stick screamer across the D.  Tom W arrived at just the right moment, the goalkeeper did not move, and the ball flew into the net; 1-0.  Buoyed by this start, RHC really started to tick, it was clear to see the formation, there was always strength in depth, sensible passes were made and the pace was simply too much for less dynamic opposition.  Minutes later, it was 3-0 to RHC with both Zac C and Ali N finding the net.  Play continued in this vein for the first quarter of the match.  However, A&F then woke up and, aided by some poor passing by RHC, started to apply pressure themselves.  Nigel K in goal produced a fine diving save and RHC defence had to contend with several penalty corners; all producing viable shots.  The game then really started to flow from end to end, RHC scored two further goals through Zac C and Art B and even had one goal ruled out, much to everyone’s surprise.  RHC’s team play was excellent; a joy to see and to play in.  5-0 up at half-time.

Despite a positive half-time talk, RHC then started to falter.  Although running the same substitution routine as in the first half, the team shape suffered, as did ball possession.  RHC lost personal discipline, became less team focussed and were unable to contain A&F counter attacks in numbers.  Whilst Mozza scored two more poacher’s goals and had a third disallowed, RHC conceded three in the last fifteen minutes: a rebound off Nigel K after a good first save, a 2 v 1 and a deflected overtime penalty corner.  In many ways, the central midfield and even the wide defenders seemed to have forgotten their defensive duties, leaving Ali N, Rob K and Rob N over exposed.  Final score:  7-3.

In summary, a game of two halves; I have been waiting to be able to say this!  A fantastic team performance in the first half with near perfect execution of everything demanded by Ali N; the game plan worked!  However, despite requests for the same again, individuals seemed to forget their team roles and, in a few cases, seemed more interested in personal glory.  Yes, we achieved our aim of three points.  However, against a stronger team we would have been well and truly punished.

MoM:  Zac C (excellent commitment) and Rob K (steady play in an unusual role).

DoD:  Nigel K (teddies & cots; not acting his age!).

RHC 2nd XI returned to HCS to take on league leaders Fleet & Ewshott 1st XI.  Outwardly quite bubbly following the 10-man 2-2 draw against Basingstoke 3rd XI, pre-match banter revealed that many had the same feeling – this game was going to be tough.  That said, a positive team talk and lively warm up saw RHC more than ready to do battle.  In defence: a back three of Jamie S, Rob N and James M with Dave M as sweeper.  In midfield: a five-man formation designed to provide control and mutual cover, Connor O’D and Ben D wide, with Ali N, Zac C and Felix C-S central.  In attack:  a lone forward, Mozza S-S.  Further cover was provided by initial substitutes:  Noah C and James F, the latter home for a guest appearance.

Early exchanges proved to be somewhat mixed.  RHC made good use of pace on the flanks with Connor on the left particularly making some incisive runs.  However, midfield support proved to be inconsistent and possession was frequently lost.  Under duress, players forgot to use the ball and pushed too hard.  Fleet also had their moments, but RHC’s defence, in particular James M, held firm.  Against expectations, RHC really started to take control and the visiting goalkeeper had to be sharp on a number of occasions.  Zac C and Felix C-S really combined well and, ably supported by Ali N, kept the pressure on.  A couple of penalty corners came and went; simple routines, but poor execution.  Unfortunately, then, two major lapses in defence allowed Fleet to score two goals in quick succession; the first from a penalty corner breakdown and the second from an open play miss-flick.  Neither Rob N nor Nigel K managed to stop what would have been routine last season.  To RHC’s credit, the team came back well from these setbacks.  James F and Noah C subbed in and out of the front six seamlessly and by half-time RHC seemed to be playing the better hockey; 2-0 down did not really reflect our performance.

Following a positive half-time talk, RHC took to the pitch as a team and produced some excellent hockey.  The ball was played early, at pace, around the whole team, but fine defending prevented any breakthrough.  Several penalty corners ensued, shots were taken, but no conversions achieved.  Fleet were clearly under the cosh, surely this relentless pressure would tell.  It did!  RHC’s first goal came from a moment of individual inspiration.  Noah C, noticing that Fleet defenders were distracted, took a quick free hit, dribbled into the D and pushed the ball past a less than ready goalkeeper.  Much discussion ensued, but the goal stood.  This turn of luck was just what RHC needed.  Ali N had already given just about everything, but now produced a real moment of magic.  Setting off on a trademark lanky run, he found himself in the D and converted with aplomb.  2-2!  Needless to say, the final five minutes of the game were frantic, but RHC held firm.

In summary, an excellent team performance, knocked back by two soft goals against and continued poor penalty corner execution.  However, a perfect way to lead in to the team’s Christmas meal.  Looking to the future, RHC need to play to the advertised game plan, listen to Ali N and keep the pressure on the opposition.  If we do, we will score; positive results should then follow.

MoM:  Ali (excellent drive and commitment).

DoD:  James F (a stitch up, but it was his turn!).

RHC 2nd XI returned to Romsey School to host high flying Havant 4th XI.  Team spirit seemed good following the previous week’s easy victory.  However, there was still plenty to discuss pre-match.  Basically, in defence, once we lose the ball, cover back to protect our central midfield against a quick counter attack and, in attack, improve our decision making and pass selection.  Above all else, use the ball at pace.

 

RHC attacked from the start and a fine flowing move down the right saw Ben D feeding Felix C-S who scored his first league goal at the second attempt.  Spurred on by this goal, RHC then produced fifteen minutes worth of balanced team hockey.  Greig S controlled the midfield confidently, ably supported in rotation by Ben M, Art B, Rob K and Felix.  Wide midfield support and pace was provided by Connor O’D, Ben D and Archie A, all making frequent solo probing runs into the final quarter.  Despite several close calls from Mozza S-S, no further goals were scored.  Havant also played their part and became increasingly competitive.  Initially, RHC’s defence held firm, but pressure eventually told.  Inevitably, a scrappy deflected goal was conceded.  Buoyed by this, Havant really turned the screw.  Penalty corners flowed and two goals were conceded, the first deflected in off Nigel K and the second straight through Ali N on the left post.  3-1 down at half time.         

 

In the second half, despite initial efforts and sporadic attacks by RHC, Havant continued to apply the pressure.  RHC’s defence comprising Dave M, Rob N, Jamie S and Ali N played well, but errors started to creep in.  Two further goals were conceded.  Another unlucky deflection and a kamikaze defensive pass leading to Nigel K in goal being hopelessly exposed.  RHC’s woes continued as Greig S departed injured.  At this point and with nothing to lose, Ali pushed forward; another one of his trademark mazy runs reduced the score-line to 5-2 against.  However, this was not end, as yet another defensive lapse left Nigel K exposed yet again.  Final score 6-2 to Havant.  On reflection, they are the best team we have faced so far.  A fine combination of teamwork and personal skills, well deserved league leaders.

 

In summary, a reasonable effort, but we missed Ali N in midfield.  Many of our youngsters showed flashes of flair with the ball.  However, as team, we are still struggling to defend as a whole.  On occasion, we shoot ourselves in the foot through letting the ball go too easily; we must retain possession, be patient and learn to strike when appropriate. 

 

MoM:  Not awarded.

 

DoD:  Ali (not writing this match report on time or at all!).        

RHC 2nd XI travelled away to last year’s relegated league newcomers reasonably confident that victory would be gained.  Our opponents had lost all six previous fixtures, letting in 38 goals in the process.  However, given our own recent defeats and variable degree of team discipline, there was definitely no room for complacency.  Again, the bonus of an away fixture, found us all changed and available in the changing room some 30 minutes before the start.  This time was well spent reinforcing how our five-man midfield was meant to work; protect the centre-midfield at all costs, and use the ball.

Despite a good team talk and an apparently focussed team, there was little time for a good warm up; limited pitch time was also broken up with a two-minute silence.  In the global scheme of things, it is important to remember those who really did give everything.

RHC got just the start that was needed with a good passing move ending up with Art B scoring after just two minutes.  However, this lead was short lived with a double deflection deceiving Nigel K in goal; a lack of personal focus, trying to play, run the subs and coach does not work!  That said; this set back woke RHC up.  In defence, Jamie S, Rob N, Ali N and Ben D easily contained sporadic attacks and even found time to attack.  Greig S produced a composed performance at centre midfield ably supported by two of Art, Felix C-S and Neil S in rotation.  Wide midfield support and pace was provided by Connor O’D, Sam W and Archie A, again two of three in rotation.  Connor and Sam particularly impressed with fine, but differing personal skills.  Mozza S-S ran tirelessly and added his special wow factor up front.  Attractive, attacking hockey flowed; the ball often seeming to bounce around a pin ball machine.  As a result, RHC were 6-1 up at halftime.  Interestingly, this was without a single penalty corner being won; we used the ball, made the passes and the opposition were unable to get near us.

In the second half, despite periods of fast, balanced hockey, too many fine moves foundered on poor final passes or lost possession following selfish individual play.  What is for certain, running with the ball equals confusion.  That said, we won several penalty corners and did manage to convert two; not route one, though, but by the passing ball around.  Despite a final score of 9-1, RHC’s second half team discipline was somewhat disjointed.  A tight mutually supporting formation will be essential against future opponents.

In summary, a morale boosting victory.  Excellent performances from Mozza, back to his best after illness, and all our youngsters.  The challenge now is to harness this youthful exuberance.  What works against school or junior opponents does not always work against wily old defenders.  We are getting there and the team, young, old and ancient seem to be enjoying each other’s company.  If we can keep our team tight, personally focused and playing to the plan, we can start to beat the best, rather than just compete.

MoM:  Mozza (4 goals), not forgetting:  Sam (3) & Art (2).

DoD:  Ali (asking where we were playing, losing the hat, then finding it!)

Result: 2-1 (loss)

 

It was a very youthful Bournemouth 4th XI who travelled to HCS for this Hampshire Division 4 clash – both sides looking to get their seasons back on track with a win, in what promised from the outset to be a very close encounter. A bold selection saw Captain Ali Nawn drop into a defensive role, with two deeper-lying central midfielders positioned to provide additional passing options from defence.

 

A buoyant Romsey opened in a very promising fashion – whilst overlooking the midfield in favour of a more direct approach, solid early passing lead to several good opportunities. Perhaps the most important of these saw Art Barcia break into the ‘D’; a quick one-two with Mozza on the edge of the ‘D’ creating Romsey’s first clear sight of goal. Art’s shot whistled just centimetres wide, but he’ll have been left rueing Mozza’s poor decision-making – had Mozza held the ball for a moment and then passed, Art would have been left staring at an open goal.

 

The rest of the half was characterised by typically frantic end-to-end exchanges, with two very solid defences greatly limiting good scoring opportunities. Whilst Nigel King (making his 33rd appearance for RHC2XI) made several excellent stops, it was Bournemouth who opened the scoring midway through the first half; a loose forward escaping the clutches of an otherwise resolute Romsey defence, and finishing a fine Bournemouth move with a far post tap-in. It was a moment that temporarily damaged Romsey’s confidence – and the second Bournemouth goal followed in similar fashion shortly afterwards. At 2-0 however, there was a strong sense that the score line didn’t reflect the balance of play. As though recalling their comeback from 2-0 down last week, Romsey pressed on to get back into the game. Several outstanding pieces of attacking play from Connor o’Dowda down the Romsey left went unrewarded. An Ali Nawn short corner strike whistled inches wide of the left-hand Bournemouth post. A clever little dinked ball from Mozza on the edge of the ‘D’ to Dave Miles almost created a one-on-one chance for the latter – finding excellent space with his runs from midfield. Just when the half looked lost, Dave Miles returned this favour with a ball to Mozza on the edge of the ‘D’, who turned and blasted it into the bottom left corner. 2-1 at half time… game on!

 

The second half saw an early shift in the balance of play, Bournemouth retaining possession well, and using it with purpose. When Romsey did take possession, there was an evident struggle to penetrate the Bournemouth defensive lines, and create opportunities for the forwards. Despite their chances, Bournemouth were unable to capitalise – credit to the outstanding efforts of Noah, Jamie, Ali and Rob Noble in defence, who, alongside Nigel in goal, looked extremely solid throughout. As the half progressed, Romsey maintained the work rate, and created several good opportunities. Most notable amongst these was a wonderful piece of counter-attacking play which saw a quick ball to Mozza immediately shunted into the path of an onrushing Art Barcia, who in turn took a single touch before firing into James Fraser (making his return to RHC2XI hockey), making a late run at the top of the ‘D’. Fraser struck the ball beautifully – but it flew against the angle of crossbar and post… outcries of frustration from the spectators, as the shot bounced across the face of goal, the keeper completely, hopelessly beaten, and out for a Bournemouth sideline ball.

 

And so the game finished – a very unlucky 2-1 defeat for Romsey. Despite the result, a very good game of hockey played in good spirit, with some excellent umpiring and very good points for an improving Romsey to take into next week.

 

MoM:  N/A – but the author would give it to Noah and Connor for frankly outstanding personal performances.

DoD:  Rob Kerr – went to Romsey School for the meet. At least he had his shirt this week though! 😉

Romsey travelled to Wide Lane looking to get the season back on track against a strong Southampton University 3s side.

The match started in typical frantic fashion. Romsey struggled to string passes together as the University side pressed high and put pressure on the ball. That pressure told early as Romsey lost the ball on the halfway line and the students surged forwards setting up an easy finish from the penalty spot.

Romsey tried to orchestrate an immediate comeback but despite some good breaks found it difficult to create any clean cut chances. Continuing to commit men forward, the travelling team were dispossessed on the opposition 25 in the dying minutes resulting in a 3 on 1 counter attack and another goal to take the score to 2-0 at the break.

Half time brought about a lively discussion and concluded with a Spencer Le Grande inspired change in approach.

A slightly deeper midfield gave more passing options for the defence and the more composed approach to developing attacks created immediate success. A well worked short corner took the scores to within one as Rob Noble rifled the ball across the D and Rob Kerr slotted home from close range.

Romsey continued to look in control for large parts of the second half and an inevitable equaliser came by way of Martin Simpson-Scott’s reverse stick with 15 minutes to play. It looked like that breakthrough could signal more and Romsey were favourites to win for the remainder of the match. A couple of half chances were batted away before a last minute string of University short corners set hearts racing but were soundly dismissed by the solid Romsey defence.

The 2-2 draw a fair result in the end. Both teams would feel they could have won it but a battling comeback gave promise for the upcoming games. A special mention

MOM: Rob Noble

DOD: Rob Kerr – always bring a match shirt

Despite last week’s 2-3 setback; a reasonably confident, but depleted RHC 2nd’s set off literally into

the eye of the storm – Storm Brian – to face US Portsmouth. However, bar a pre-match shower, it

was not to be the elements but the on field antics that proved tempestuous!

As expected, RHC’s defence were soon put under pressure by a speedy, feisty, well-drilled

opposition, who constantly probed and harried to get the ball. Mostly fairly, but always pushing the

limits. All decisions were verbally contested and RHC’s young team did well to remain composed.

Rob N and Jimmy P worked tirelessly to contain very lively forwards, ably supported by JCB and Hugh

Davidson. Many attacks were snuffed out and those that did get through found Nigel K back to his

best in goal. In midfield, Ali N and Greig S worked their socks off with Cam Le G and Ben D a constant

threat out wide. Unfortunately, RHC were always chasing, as such there was not much joy in the

final quarter. Neil S had to come back to get any ball; in effect, we were forced into a half-court

game – their choice, not ours! This constant pressure was always likely to tell and resulted in several

penalty corners against. RHC dealt well against good, varied routines, but one deflected shot found

its way through the RHC wall, via a defenders body. 1-0 down at half-time; all things considered not

a bad half.

Efforts remained positive in the second half, but an early penalty corner shot wide for a planned

deflection soon made it 2-0 down. Pressure started to tell and, as tempers started to fray, umpire

control started to degenerate. To be fair, the home umpire did issue three green cards and one

yellow to US P… but RHC also picked up two separate yellow cards. On reflection, all justified.

During this period of to and fro, both sides were awarded several penalty corners, more to US P than

RHC, but neither side could convert. RHC played the last 10 minutes one player short, home pressure

told and an overload led to a third goal against. Undeterred, RHC kept playing structured hockey, but

a last minute breakaway 3 v 1 on goal left the final score 4-0 down.

In summary, a difficult game and certainly one of our more demanding. However, there were several

fine personal performances. Both defence and midfield actually played quite well, our formation

worked and we have gelled as a team. Unfortunately, this time, we were just a little bit too

stretched. Both Noah and Bailey, playing in midfield, showed flashes of inspiration and are certainly

prospects for the future – well done both! We now face 5 very winnable league games. If we believe

and execute our routines as planned, we will do it.

MoM: Cam & Rob N (excellent performances)

DoD: Ali (over strenuously defending the cause; he likes the hat anyway)

Romsey 2nd XI welcomed a strong Swanage and Wareham team to HCS to defend our position at top of the table. Romsey fielded a strong line-up, but with a couple of regulars away, some positional rejigging was required.

The acclimatisation period was evident for the first 10 minutes as we figured things out. A few weak passes and some equally weak tackling allowed Swanage to counter repeatedly, although the back four of Rob, Noah, Jamie and Ben did manage to keep them at bay, with the experienced Nigel making his usually selection of spritely saves. Eventually we settled down and started playing some good hockey. Pass speed went up and we made some good counter breaks down both wings through Cameron and Ben Davidson, with Ali and Christian both finding the wide men regularly.

The breakthrough eventually came from some good interpassing between Mozza, Art and fellow forwards in the Swanage D, with Ali managing to get on the end of one for a “lanky reverse stick wobble” shot into the back of the goal.

Swanage however, quickly clawed on back with some good passing to find a lone forward who managed to slot away an opportunistic reverse stick shot. 1-1 at half time.

The second half saw Romsey continue to play some good fast hockey. Swanage, obviously tiring from a frantic first 35 mins, opted to sit deeper in their own half after the whistle. This allowed us to build our attacks more constructively and penetrate their D on regular occasions. Cameron particularly effective on the left wing, until a cynical Swanage shoulder rendered him unable to walk on a dodgy ankle.

Romsey bagged their second goal after an Ali Nawn short-corner piledriver drilled a Swanage defender on the foot infront of goal. P-flick awarded, Ali to step up and slot away. 2-1.

The lead was short lived though, when Swanage countered quickly, making their way down field for yet another reverse stick shot into the back of the net. 2-2.

Romsey then really started taking the game to Swanage to claw back the lead. Some fantastic one-two passing upfront leading to some good chances often shying just wide of the mark. The rare chance Swanage did manage to get into our D, they won a short, and a rather effective drag flick into the top left gave them the lead. 3-2.

With time running out, Romsey piled the pressure on Swanage for the remainder of the game with frantic play upfront trying to find that last goal. Unfortunately, time ran out before we were able to get a successful shot in.

Overall, a really good performance from the 2nd XI in terms of quality hockey and shear effort. The scoreline was not really a fair reflection of the game, but Swanage proved to be a more physical and experienced side than we have faced so far this year. Onwards and upwards.

DoD: Nigel King – ‘dropping the mic’ in the team Whatsapp group chat

MoM: team as whole from good all round performance

Romsey Men’s 2’s first outing of the season meant a trip to Fareham at HMS Collingwood. With a few of the regulars absent from the line up, it meant that at the start of play it was an unfamiliar 11 players lined up to take on this unpredictable Fareham 6’s side.

You wouldn’t have thought that this bothered Romsey at all after watching the initial 10 minutes of Hockey, with some good passing and creative skill to create an opening for Captain of the day “Mozza” to score. The move was Romsey’s best of the match so far with good work from Ben Davidson, now revelling in the spot light after his older brother Hugh while he’s away, to get in down the right and a quick pass to Sam B who squared for Moz at far post. 1-0 to Romsey.

In the space of the next 10 minutes however, Fareham had got themselves in front. Overloads in the Romsey D helped by hitting the ball long through the channels, thusly cutting out the entire midfield, meant Fareham started looking dangerous going forward and an extra man at back post on one move meant Fareham were able to fire home for the 1st to go 1-1. The second came after a tough 10 minutes for the Romsey defence with Nigel King providing some excellent saves until finally having one get past him on the rebound for Fareham to go 2 -1 up

Romsey responded well though and after some constant pressure pegging Fareham back, another nice move down the right from Ben led to Art Barcia having enough space to set up his brother Sam Barcia to first time reverse hit low at the back post under the Fareham keeper for Romsey to go back to 2 – 2.

Half time talks were constructive and after a conversation between defensive stalwarts Jim Ponsford and Rob Noble, the defensive shape was altered slightly to block out the long hitting tactics of Fareham in the most part of the second half. Fareham pushed forward to try and get back in front but never looked as dangerous as they did in the first half. Romsey on the other hand were moving the ball nicely with Man of the Match Felix Chapman-Sheath providing some quick one twos to help make it 3 – 2 to Romsey. This time it was Sam again who broke free at the top of the D and produced a majestic flick to lob the keeper as he slid out. Quite superb.

4 – 2 to Romsey came in the dying minutes of the game as a now tired looking Fareham pushed higher up the field were cut down by a fantastic passing move which ended up in Cameron Le-Grande hitting the ball home in clinical fashion to seal the game.

It was a tough first away game of the season for Romsey 2’s but the cool heads and the constant threat of their front five meant they came away with a well fought 3 points to keep them top of Hants Division 4.

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