Romsey travelled to local rivals Southampton, a side unbeaten this season at home. Prior to push back, Southampton had a superior goal difference to their opponents, with Romsey on -36, whilst mid table Southampton were comfortable on +4

Given recent performances, Romsey were high in spirits, and from the start applied heavy pressure on the defensive line. The Abbey men were confident in possession, and organised off the ball, and on numerous occasions found themselves looking to penetrate the ‘D’, but ultimately lacked the killer instinct required. Danny Miles twice went close from tight angles, along with Ben Mullan who hit the side board after the Southampton ‘keeper closed the angle. Following the flow of play, it was the away side who took the lead. Tom Ponsford was released down the right flank, and drove towards the ‘D’ before crossing for Jack Forrest-Charde, to effortless deflect the ball into the top corner, after beating his marker with a yard of pace.

Southampton immediately replied and levelled the game with a deflection of their own. The forward found space in front of Lozz Scott, before redirecting a long pass across the goal. The remainder of the half played out in a competitive and fiery nature, the umpires kept their cards in their pockets and officiated well. With a number of clumsy challenges viewed as just that, the game retained its tempo and quality, before the half time whistle came and the heavens opened.

Southampton were creating chances, with 3 miscued penalty corners and a 2 routine saves from Scott. Their pressure eventually payed dividends. A wayward Southampton strike was redirected goal wards by a Romsey defender, catching Scott off-guard, finding its way onto the backboard. However, just as they looked to be taking control of the game, Southampton were reduced to 10 men, initially only for 2 minutes, but the blue’s midfielder argued himself into a 5 minute sinbin, and Romsey took full advantage. Zak Cooper’s tireless work on the wing, resulted in a short corner. Man of the match Danny Miles stepped up to fire in high to the left, with a drag flick potentially heading wide of the post. Unfortunately we will never truly know, as a Southampton defender deflected the strike past his ‘keeper. Southampton maintained their offensive style, and even with 10 man, came within inches of taking the lead, as a strike hit the backboard, but was deemed to have been hit outside the ‘D’ by the officials.

With 5 minutes remaining, Miles had a further 2 chances to grab a late winner. The first of which narrowly missing the top corner, and the latter was parried by the Southampton ‘keeper into the path of Zak Cooper, who produced a calm finish to beat the ‘keeper, and give Romsey a real fighting chance of survival.

4 games remain, next week against promotion long shots Andover. Following this, 3 vital fixtures against the 3 other teams a foot the Hampshire/Surrey league. An interesting month ahead.

Romsey 1st XI Vs. Surbiton 3rd XI: Hampshire Collegiate School

In the reverse fixture, the Abbey side were pinned down, and beaten into submission by the half time break, and history looked to be repeating itself. An extremely young Surbiton squad were eager to attack at any expense, and from push back, they launched an all-out assault, peppering the Romsey ‘D’, with crash balls at every opportunity. This proved, yet again, to be a thorn in the Romsey heel as a Surbiton forward found space to deflect past man of the match Lozz Scott.

Romsey’s problems looked set to only worsen. Following a spat of unconverted short corners, the Surrey side were awarded a penalty stroke, after a goal bound shot was illegally stopped on the goal line. The Surbiton striker stepped up and scuffed his strike. The miscued flick bobbled down the middle, almost embarrassing Scott who had readied himself to dive, fortunately the stroke bounced off both of Scott’s feet, before stopping dead just short of the goal line.

This warning spurred the home side on, who began to play some attacking hockey of their own, using their wide players to great effect. A solid defensive line from the Surrey team started to crumble, and a rarely seen predatory instinct took over with Romsey winning 3 penalty corners in as many minutes. Although the first 2 of which were not capitalised upon, the third was dispatched by Danny Miles with a flick, low to the left hand side of the Surrey ‘keeper.

What followed was a fiercely contested game of hockey. Romsey, caught napping from a long corner, failed to clear their lines, and were yet again punished from a routine set piece. A quick pass, and 1 touch deflection into the ‘D’ eliminated 4 players, and a scruffy phase of play ended with the ball being swept in the goal. The game continued in the same fashion, and Romsey leveled with a deflection. Jack Forrest-Charde found some space to look up and see the diagonal run of Chris Mason. A cleanly struck pass was met with the deftest of touches from mason, wrong footing the ‘keeper, and leveling the game. The Abbey side were growing into the game, and looked the better team leading up to the break. However, a few moments of bad ball management and lack of passing, left Romsey sighing with relief at the sound of the whistle.

Surbiton came out strong, and seemed intent on scoring early on. Pushing forwards high to pressure the Romsey back line seemed successful, fortunately for the yellows, they pushed their unsuccessful penalty corner attempts into double figures, with Scott making a number of vital saves to keep them within touching distance. Romsey, still competing, launched a number of their own attacks, twice missing from close range, and twice bested by the away ‘keeper in 1v1 situations. With 10 minutes remaining, a fierce tackle inside the 25 yard zone, resulted in a penalty corner for Romsey. Miles stepped up, and fired into the top left corner taking his 2017 tally to 7 goals in 5 games, to put the Abbey men ahead, 3-2.

Surbiton came agonisingly close to leveling, with a clearance of the line by David Edwards, and a diving save from Scott, Romsey appeared to be set for a second victory in 3 weeks. Ever the givers, and true to their form however, Romsey kindly offered the Londoners 2 final penalty corners with 2 minutes remaining. Riding their luck, the Hampshire side stumbled across the line, in a nail biting encounter. Finally learning from a few of their mistakes, Romsey look ahead to 3 Hampshire clashes in coming weeks. Is Regional survival on the cards?

On the back of a cancellation, Romsey played only their 2nd game of the 2017, the reverse of a fixture they could, and probably should have won back in October. With a mismatch squad, retaining a number of their up and coming talent, Romsey started the game positively, and applied pressure all over the pitch, and although a little over eager, it was a refreshing change of pace for the team still searching for their first win of the season.

The Abbey side continued to pile on the pressure, and dominantly controlled the middle of the park, and following the run of play, they found themselves in the lead after 15 minutes, when Zak Cooper won a penalty corner. Danny Miles readied himself for a routine flick, unfortunately, miss control lead to an improvised set piece, in which Miles dragged the ball onto his reverse stick, hitting across the goal, and finding the far corner.

The home side, looked set to abolish their woeful record of immediately conceding after taking the lead, however, just as the imminent threat appeared to be over, Winchester pulled a goal back. The goal came after a long passage of click passing, after dragging the home defence out of position, a pass from deep found an open player in the ‘D’ who deflected in high, past ‘keeper Lozz Scott.

Romsey entered half-time down beat about the score line, but it was well within their ability to get a result, and the second half proved this to be true. A truly open affair, saw back and forth attacking play, with both teams continuously testing one another’s ‘keeper. Unfortunately, Romsey’s lack of set-piece options, proved costly yet again, as they wasted numerous opportunities from penalty and long corners alike.

The game remained close, and although a lack of goals were on display, it was a great outing for the spectators. Unfortunately for Romsey, it was another week of despair, whilst desperately searching for that first win of the season, the Abbey side were caught on the break, and conceded a penalty corner late on. The initial drag flick was smartly saved by ‘keeper Scott, but Romsey did not clear their lines, and the ball fell kindly to the Winchester captain, who clinically lifted high into the net, whilst falling to the floor. The home side, fought valiantly to level the game, but time was not on their side. Winchester, clung on to clinch 3 points.

Next up, another home fixture against misfiring Addiscombe.

A much changed, and somewhat younger looking Romsey squad , faced off against league leaders, Croydon, fielding 5 debutants, 4 straight out of senior school, and Romsey stalwart, Stuart Robertson, of an undisclosed age. This fixture was very much a glimpse into the future of Romsey hockey, with 7 of the 13 squad members still in their ‘teens’, and although the inexperience was telling, the potential was visible and promising. Unfortunately, the Abbey side started the game with a damage limitation mind-set, and this was evident from the offset, and although Romsey had their opportunities, and periods of positive possession, the lack of cohesion and familiarity with one another, quickly forced Romsey into a defensive approach that was breached time, and time again, by a well organised, and aggressive press.

Romsey were down to 10 men after 5 minutes, with ‘keeper Lozz Scott sin binned, for allegedly fouling the Croydon forward, and to make matters worse, the Londoners were awarded a penalty stroke. Ben Butcher valiantly attempted to stop the stroke, donning the protective helmet and hand guards. Inevitably, Romsey were down 1-0.

Occasionally threatening to find a footing in the game, the Hampshire side were their own worst enemy, and were 3-0 down 15 minutes later, after 2 converted penalty corners, courtesy of some nifty footwork in their defensive ‘D’. With a lack of  defensive outlets, Romsey resorted to route one passing, and holding on to the ball too often, and on 2 such occasions, conceded. A well disguised drag flick, and a successful counter-attack, meant the away side limped into half time 5-0 down.

Following a seemingly productive interval, the game was well and truly put to bed by Croydon, after a swift break resorted in a penalty corner. A low flick that wrong footed Lozz Scott, tied up the points, leaving the abbey side fighting for their pride, and to their credit, they got involved and began creating a number of opportunities. An interception, by returnee Chris Mason, lead an attack that found a defensive foot, resulting in their first penalty of the game. A misfired injection scuppered any chance of a clean strike, however, the Croydon defensive unit over ran, and Miles managed to find Mason on the back post, to seemingly tap in for a goal in his first appearance in a year. Much to his dismay, personal celebrations were cut short, as Dave Edwards crept behind to ‘keeper to pinch the goal on the line. A goal he ruthlessly claimed following a post-game discussion.

The Surrey based team quickly replied with another penalty corner, nonetheless, drawing blood buoyed the Abbey side, and an ‘onslaught’ of sorts followed. Growing in confidence the youthful away team strung a number of passes together and found themselves in dangerous positions, with Arthur Barcia going close with a rushed strike, and Chris Harwood miss-trapping in the ‘D’ after some smart build up play by Zak Cooper. The pressure was telling. The game may have been over, but Romsey can look back on some of the quick passing that ensued, leading to a penalty corner, that Miles dispatched in the top left quadrant of the goal. The London side, turned on the style in the final 10 minutes, and were pushing for double figures, and came close after converting an open field goal, and 2 late penalty corners.

At the end of the game, The Abbey side were on the end, of what would appear to be a 9-2 drubbing, and although there is a degree of truth to this, Romsey were always faced with an arduous task. A difficult game and situation, with low squad availability, brought about a silver lining, in the opportunity handed to a number of youngsters looking to play regularly in coming years, and they all did themselves justice.

On wards and hopefully upwards against local Hampshire rivals Winchester.

A slow starting reintroduction to post-Christmas fixtures, pitted the best defence in the league, against the lowest scoring offence. Romsey travelled to league leaders Sunbury and Walton Haws 1’s.

A lethargic, and nervy opening 10 minutes, saw few opportunities arise, and unfortunately, this only grew into impatient and frantic play, with both sides coughing up possession throughout the half. Just as both teams began to settle, Sunbury won, and converted a penalty corner, a goal that should really have been stopped by the designated man on the post. With both teams having grown into the half, some neat, and tactical hockey was displayed by both sides, implementing interchanging  presses, and organised use of the flanks, Romsey became increasingly dangerous. Following 2 tantalisingly close penalty corner misses by Birch, and a miss-trap on the back post by debutante Morgan Robertson, Romsey finally leveled the game through the latter. Man of the match Robertson, had 2 early chances saved, but kept his composure to slot in the bottom corner from 6 yards after some patient build up play from Romsey. With momentum and confidence building the Abbey side were stopped in their tracks by the half time break.

The away side were showing signs of life, and at times looked to be sticking to their game plan. However, as shown in the previous half of the campaign, old habits die hard, and it was Romsey’s, overuse of the aerial pass, and apparent obsession with carrying the ball into pressure that was the telling factor.

Unfortunately there was to be no happy ending for Hampshire side, whom are still searching for their first win of the campaign. Sunbury, came out stronger, quicker and hungrier, and were 3-1 up inside 10 minutes with some seamless counter-attacking, and superior composure in and around the ‘D’. They continued to dominate with their slick one-touch passing and clinical finishing, and at the end of the day, just proved the too strong for a bewildered and depleted Romsey squad. The Abbey side failed to win a single penalty corner in the second half. Struggling to get out of their own half, frustration set in, and 2 late sin-bins for youngster Zak Cooper, and Captain Tom Ponsford, allowed a buoyant Sunbury and Walton Hawks side to finish the game in style with a 5-1 victory, taking them to the top of the table.

Romsey aim to improve their fortunes with the help of a new coach, and a new pitch for their home games, at Hampshire Collegiate School. Next up, a must win battle against fellow relegation contenders Camberley and Farnborough 1st XI.

After an initial bleak looking start to their pre-season, Romsey have grown in confidence, and even more unlikely, in squad numbers. After 2 unbeaten games, 1-1 and 4-1 against Fareham’s 2nd and Fareham 3rd XI respectively, the Abbey side looked to build on an impressive start, against this seasons league rivals, Southampton’s 1st XI. For the past 2 seasons, Southampton have played in Hants/Surrey 1, a league above their opponents, unfortunately they found themselves relegated last term, and are looking strong for promotion again.

Romsey anticipated a close game, with both teams having drawn with higher league opposition, Fareham 2’s in previous weeks. Albeit, vastly different score lines of 1-1 and 4-4. It turned out to be fiercely contested, in which Southampton pitted their explosive attack, against Romsey’s notoriously stubborn defensive set up.

The game started with a minute silence, in memory of the late Roger Merry of Southampton Hockey club. He was a pillar, of not only Southampton hockey, but the sport as a whole, he will undoubtedly be missed by many.

From the off, both teams pressed high when out of possession, and attacked ferociously with the ball. Following 10 minutes of blow for blow exchanges, it was the Abbey side that broke the deadlock. Some quick thinking from Jack Forrest-Charde, caught a retreating defender off guard, resulting in a penalty corner. A straight forward strike from Lewis Birch, unfortunately found its way through the ‘keepers protective padding, and struck him on the knee, Birch unaware of the situation, pounced on the rebound to lift the ball over the keeper. No fouls were committed, and the goal stood. Romsey 1-0.

The blow to the keeper resulted in a 10 minute halt, in order for Southampton to switch their goalkeepers. The remainder of the first half followed an unwelcome sense of De Ja Vu from the previous week, as the Romsey’s lack of substitutions, lead to increasing fatigue, and they fell victim to a number of Southampton penalty corners. One of which, they produced a well worked routine, and managed to sneak a low shot past debutant goalkeeper Hal Cross, and his defensive quartet. After a couple more minutes of sustained pressure, the away team welcomed the half time whistle, to regroup, rehydrate and compose themselves.

The restart brought about a minor formation change, and a second wind for Romsey, who turned the aggressor. They looked to use the pace of their youthful attacking, teenage trident of Barcia, England and Cooper, whom won a number of fouls outside the opposition ‘D’. On 3 occasions, man of the match, Jack Forrest-Charde forced Southampton into conceding penalty corners, by reacting quicker, and catching an unaware defender, still slowly retreating. Two of these corner found the backboard, First through, Forrest-Charde himself, who with a bit of skill, and a little luck, found his way past on rushing defenders, to slot in the bottom corner, before Birch tucked in his second from close range.

Southampton, continued to pile on their brutish offensive pressure, but lacked the finesse to close the score, allowing Romsey to run out 3-1 victors, of a fiercely contested final friendly fixture.

Romsey charge into the new season in high spirits, reinvigorated by a new youthful look, accompanied by a mountain of self-belief. Next up Sunbury and Walton 1st XI, and a welcome selection dilemma, with players returning for the start of the Hants/Surrey 2016-2017 campaign.

 

Romsey Men’s 1s 4 – 1 Fareham Men’s 3s

Romsey hosted struggling Fareham and made it back to back victories as the season approaches its conclusion.

Romsey opened the scoring with a flowing move that saw Ben Mullan burst down the right channel and pick out Lewis Birch near the baseline, who squared the ball for Neil Strong to finish from close range.

Romsey were denied a second when Jack Forrest-Charde’s shot at a penalty corner deflected in off the goalkeeper’s pads but was ruled out for being marginally too high as a first strike.

Just before the break the visitors drew level as Romsey were slow to recover from a turnover, allowing the Fareham danger man to break into space from a quickly taken free hit on halfway. He advanced into the area and got a reverse stick effort off that was kept out by the stick of Lozz Scott in goal, but the ball remained near the back post where a forward following in had a simple finish.

After a first half characterised more by promise than by end product, Romsey were well on top after the break and could have scored more than the three they achieved. Lewis Birch earned the man of the match award for being particularly effective in exploiting the space available behind the Fareham defence with his pacy runs.

It was Birch who put the hosts back ahead after Dave Miles spotted the intelligent run of Tom Ponsford beyond the backline and met it with an accurate aerial pass, with the fullback making a good choice to square the ball to Birch as the ‘keeper advanced from goal.

Soon after Rob Kerr found Birch who lifted the ball over the diving stopper, but after initially awarding the goal the officials overturned the decision feeling that Kerr had committed a stick block as he advanced the ball into the top of the area.

The hosts were not to be denied their cushion and their third goal was a real team effort involving most of the side, starting with a clearance from Scott and ending with Mullan scoring after a defender had blocked Strong’s shot.

The fourth goal for Romsey was once more inspired by a Dave Miles aerial, picking out the ever-involved Birch who set up Mullan for his second of the game.

The result lifts Romsey back into the top half of the table ahead of the trek to Dulwich to play HAC next weekend.

Sunbury & Walton Hawks Men’s 1s 0 – 2 Romsey Men’s 1s

A fantastic team performance saw Romsey surprise promotion chasing Sunbury and put to bed their losing sequence that stretched back six troubling games. The win was made all the sweeter as numerous unavailabilities saw Romsey travel severely short-handed, with coach Danny Miles required to step in to ensure they could field a bare eleven.

Miles came close to giving Romsey the lead when he was picked out clear in the area, but the Hawks goalkeeper did a good job of denying him the time to turn and get a shot away.

The defence were an excellent unit throughout, with Dave Miles ever dependable at centre-back and responsible for a key block of a shot from a penalty corner whilst the game was goalless.

Captain Ben Butcher’s aerials proved an invaluable means of releasing pressure as well as setting up attacks and it was one such ball that set up Romsey’s opener. It connected with the run of Danny Miles beyond the defence, leading to Lewis Birch setting up Sam Barcia in the area. His first shot was blocked by the ‘keeper, but Barcia picked up the rebound and flicked it into the empty goal.

Ben Mullan delivered a man of the match performance with numerous surging dribbles into space from the midfield and with the defence backing off on one such occasion, he drove into the area and doubled the lead with a bouncing shot.

The second half saw the pressure cranked up on the visitors but tenacious defending by Romsey of their 23 combined with the ball not quite falling for the hosts to ensure that Sunbury had few clear chances despite plenty of possession high up the pitch.

The result sees Romsey climb into the top half of the table, with close rivals Camberley and Farnborough the visitors at Romsey School next Saturday.

Romsey Men’s 1s 1 – 2 London Edwardians Men’s 2s

Romsey were cruelly denied a hard fought point by an Edwardians winner just a minute from time, with the home side instead falling to a sixth straight defeat.

It was a cagey game with the defensive presses making it hard to work the ball forward and both sides looking to exploit loose passes from the centrebacks. The teams traded early penalty corner opportunities without result, but Romsey were grateful to Dave Miles for a magnificent block of an Edwardians shot from close range at one of the set pieces.

After the break Romsey opened the scoring after good hassling by Lewis Birch saw him dispossess a defender high in the right channel, from where he drove along the baseline and picked out Neil Strong in the area. The striker passed to set up Jack Forrest-Charde whose shot was miscued but fell neatly for the onrushing wing back Josh Newman who notched his second ever goal with a spectacular diving sweep.

Edwardians struck back from a penalty corner after Scott had kept out the first effort but was left little chance when the rebound was slapped hard across goal into the corner.

Both sides had further chances, with Romsey’s man of the match Ben Mullan creating one of the best openings when he drove around the top of the area before unleashing a rising shot that a touch from Sam Barcia could not quite deflect in.

With time ticking down the visitors struck for their winner, working the ball too easily into the crowded area and unleashing a sweetly hit reverse effort that went in off the far post.

Despite the defeat, Romsey can take heart from a team performance that was far better than those earlier in their losing run. The Abbey side will travel to second placed Sunbury for next Saturday’s game.

City of Portsmouth Men’s 1st XI 2 – 0 Romsey Men’s 1st XI

Romsey’s slump in form worsened as they crashed to a fifth successive defeat, this time away at previously winless Portsmouth.

The game was goalless at half time despite each side having a decent number of opportunities, both in open play and from penalty corners.

Joe Welch saw his first short corner drag-flick crash back off the crossbar, with David Edwards unable to get the touch necessary to divert Jack Forrest-Charde’s reverse hit of the rebound on to the target.

Forrest-Charde picked out Ben Butcher in the area with a great through ball, but the visitors’ captain was unable to beat the goalkeeper. Butcher then returned the favour of setting up Forrest-Charde, but he mistimed an attempted sweep and the chance went begging.

Edwards picked up his side’s man of the match nomination for making several interceptions and tackles in the midfield that set up promising attacks but Romsey lacked the fluency of passing in the final third to make the most of these opportunities.

After the break Romsey had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for a foot in the build up. As neither side showed a clinical edge, the first goal was likely to be crucial and Portsmouth eventually converted a penalty corner with a drag-flick well placed into the side netting.

This lead allowed Portsmouth to control the pace of the game whilst Romsey’s play became ragged and rushed. The visitors were unhappy when the ball hitting a Portsmouth foot was missed and the home side extended their advantage from the resulting attack.

Romsey had further opportunities through Welch drag-flicks and also when Sam Barcia put Chris Mason through one-on-one with the ‘keeper, but the teenager failed to connect with an early strike.

Romsey drop to sixth in the league as a result and host London Edwardians this Saturday, with the visitors lying just above them in the table.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 3 – 9 Haslemere Men’s 1st XI

League leaders Haslemere underlined their status as comfortably the best side in the division by dispatching Romsey by a large margin for the second time this season.

As in the previous meeting between the sides, Haslemere impressed with their creation of space with persistent leading by players off the ball. This combined with slick exchanges of passes in the final third of the pitch to open up the hosts numerous times and the visitors scored several times in the first half by meeting crosses from the baseline at the back post.

Haslemere also posed a threat from penalty corners, and whilst Lozz Scott in goal did a good job dealing with the direct attempts from the top of the area, Romsey struggled to deal with the more intricately worked routines.

Romsey restored some pride by getting on the scoresheet when Ben Mullan drove the ball from midfield and looked to find Jack Forrest-Charde in the area. His deflection was kept out by the ‘keeper but Lewis Birch was on hand to claim the loose ball and put it in the net.

The second half was a more even affair with Romsey getting a second goal from a penalty corner when Forrest-Charde’s pass to the back post eluded attackers and defender alike to go straight in.

The hosts also scored arguably the goal of the game when Ben Butcher’s quick thinking saw him launch a long aerial from halfway on the left touchline to the edge of the area on the opposite side of the pitch. Chris Mason was rewarded when he gambled on the defender under it failing to control the ball and finished with a rocket of a strike high into the net.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 1 – 3 Yateley Men’s 1st XI

Romsey’s mid-season slump continued as a poor performance saw them fall to a third straight defeat, with lowly Yateley giving a good account of themselves to earn a win that lifts them out of the bottom two in the table.

The game began at a frantic pace with the play short on both quality and structure, with hosts Romsey in particular failing to settle in to the match as they frequently squandered possession trying to rush the ball forward in attack.

The visitors took the lead from a penalty stroke that was awarded and duly converted when a shot was blocked on the line by a defender’s body after the ball was worked down the right channel and squared from the baseline.

Romsey earned some penalty corners but could not execute effectively, with good pressure being applied by the Yateley runners closing down the top of the area quickly.

In contrast, the visitors were able to convert two set pieces of their own in the second half, firstly with a rising drag-flick and then a neatly taken deflection routine in front of the back post.

In between these two goals, Romsey gave themselves hope as Joe Welch drove the ball forward before finding Neil Strong in the area, whose square pass was diverted between the ‘keeper’s legs by a diving Jack Forrest-Charde.

Romsey must now attempt to regroup and give a better showing when league leaders Haslemere visit next week.

London Academicals Men’s 1s 3 – 1 Romsey Men’s 1s

Romsey ended the first half of the season with a disappointing performance and a deserved defeat away at one of their rivals for promotion.

The hosts were the better side early on with their movement up front causing Romsey’s press plenty of problems. Academicals won several penalty corners and it took good interventions from goalkeeper Lozz Scott and centreback David Edwards respectively to deny the first two set pieces.

Romsey came close with a routine of their own but the runners looking for a deflection failed to connect with Jack Forrest-Charde’s pass just beyond the back post.

Academicals returned to the attack and converted a third penalty corner with a low flick to the left corner which Scott got a hand to but could not prevent from squeezing over the line.

The visitors also threatened with a drag-flick but Joe Welch’s effort was agonisingly inches wide of the left post with the home stopper rooted in the middle of the goal.

Romsey have rarely been behind in games whilst on their winning streak over past weeks and a poor reaction to this unfamiliar situation perhaps explained the lack of patience in possession for much of the first half, too often trying to force long balls from the back.

Nonetheless some good chances were created, in particular when Lewis Birch broke into space and used his pace to out-sprint the defence, only to fire uncharacteristically off target when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

After the break, the Abbey side remained too hasty in attempting to equalise and were punished as Academicals all but sealed the win with two goals in quick succession after capitalising on turnovers in the Romsey half.

Romsey improved in attack as the game progressed and it took a fine diving save to deny a second Welch drag-flick. Eventually the visitors got the consolation goal they deserved as good team play down the right led to the ball being centered for Jack Murray to sweep in from the edge of the area.

Romsey can still be very pleased with their work so far this season, sitting in fourth place at the winter break but level on points with two of the sides above them, chasing leaders Haslemere who are four points clear.

Romsey Men’s 1s 5 – 4 Honourable Artillery Company Men’s 1s

A rollercoaster of twists and turns ended with Romsey ahead at the final whistle, though they probably did not deserve all three points after suffering a collapse in the middle of the game that was hard to account for.

Travelling HAC could only field ten players and Romsey appeared to be heading to a routine victory as they led 2-0 shortly before halftime.

The first came when a penalty corner won by Jack Forrest-Charde was converted by Joe Welch’s drag-flick into the left of the goal.

This was backed up by a strike by Ben Mullan after good pressing work saw him dispossess the opposition centreback and dribble around the ‘keeper.

But in the final minutes of the first period HAC broke down their right wing and converted at the back post on the second attempt after Alex Buck in goal had cut out the first cross.

This goal gave the visitors the boost in confidence they needed to believe they could get something from the game, and after the break they began to embarrass the home side’s superiority in numbers by frequently creating spaces in the Romsey press to dribble through.

Romsey were left shell-shocked as the ten men gave a superb display against the odds, first equalising and then taking the lead.

Buck, deputising for the unavailable Lozz Scott, was actually having a good game but was left exposed by his teammates and the clinical HAC forwards passed the ball around for tap ins that gave him no chance.

The home side drew level when Rob Kerr’s ball into the D evaded a player from both teams to arrive at Sam Barcia at the back post, who outmaneuvered the goalkeeper and put a reverse flick in from close range.

HAC once more exposed Romsey’s frailties to go ahead again, only to be hit by a salvo of goals in consecutive minutes that proved decisive.

Welch continued his fine set piece record this season with a second sweetly delivered drag-flick, but was later forced off with an injury that could rule him out from future fixtures.

The cheers of the home spectators were just settling down when Forrest-Charde shrugged off a couple of heavy tackles as he drove into the area and, with players from both sides stopping prematurely in anticipation of a penalty corner being awarded, flicked the ball in off the post to reignite the celebrations even stronger.

Mullan then had a chance to seal the game from a similar position but his flick instead found the ‘keeper’s chest.

This seventh successive victory maintains the host’s second place in the league as the top four all won, but Romsey will need to tighten up when they visit third placed London Academicals on Saturday.

Fareham Men’s 3s 2 – 5 Romsey Men’s 1s

An away win over struggling Fareham 3 makes it six successive victories for Romsey and lifts them into second place in the league, one point behind Haslemere.

Early on goalkeeper Lozz Scott made a fantastic flying stop at Fareham’s first penalty corner to keep a high drag-flick out. This enabled the visitors to take the lead by converting their own first set piece, with Joe Welch rifling his drag-flick into the net.

The advantage was doubled by Lewis Birch, running on to Welch’s through ball and giving the stopper little chance with a sweetly hit strike.

Romsey controlled the remainder of the half well but will be concerned at the continuing trend of giving away some unnecessary penalty corners.

As so has often been the case this season, Romsey had a big wobble at the start of the second half and Fareham took advantage with a great solo run across the top of the area and cracking finish inside the near post.

Perhaps crucially though Romsey somehow still led after an awful ten minutes and having regaining their composure soon restored the cushion with a great team move.

Young debutant Tom Croft-Baker was having a fantastic game for the team and after being set free down the right by earlier work from Ben Mullan and David Edwards, he supplied a perfect square ball for Neil Strong to sweep in at the back post.

Man of the match Croft-Baker was involved in another fine move for the visitor’s fourth goal, releasing Mullan into space in the right channel and Strong again bravely committed himself in front of the ‘keeper to lift a deflection in.

Fareham threatened to make it an interesting finish by reducing the deficit in the last ten minutes, a neat one-two at a penalty corner finished off with a fierce hit.

Romsey secured the win in style however, with Jack Forrest-Charde emphatically smashing home a rebound in baseball fashion after great interplay down the left between Sam Barcia and himself had won a penalty corner.

Romsey have challenging fixtures in the next two weeks to finish the first half of the season, starting at home to HAC on Saturday.

Romsey Men’s 1s 4 – 3 Andover Men’s 1s

Romsey extended their fine winning streak to five games after holding off a late fightback by visiting Andover.

The game was chanceless for quite some time but it was Romsey who took the lead when a ball into the area rebounded to Sam Barcia, who caught the goalkeeper out with a near post finish from an acute angle.

Andover responded well, pressing the home side deep into their own half and winning several penalty corners. They equalised from one of these set pieces as a touch from the post defender was insufficient to keep a drag-flick out.

The home side retook the lead when Jack Forrest-Charde converted a penalty stroke, awarded after a quick counterattack ended in a melee in front of goal and Neil Strong being fouled in the act of shooting.

Early in the second half it took an astonishing save from the Andover ‘keeper to deny Lewis Birch’s fierce strike from the edge of the area, stretching rapidly to the bottom corner to block the shot with his kicker.

The lead was however extended at a penalty corner, with the visiting stopper having no answer to Joe Welch’s emphatic drag-flick high into the net.

Romsey’s fourth also came from a penalty corner, swept home by David Edwards after Forrest-Charde’s slide pass was deflected into his path by Birch.

The home side were seemingly coasting to victory by now, dictating the game and showing good patience in transferring the ball around the backline to retain possession for long spells. This came to end when Andover changed tactics and pressed the ball high, with the hosts feeling the squeeze and consistently turning the ball over.

The visitors twice converted penalty corner drag-flicks in the final ten minutes to set up a grandstand finish and after the final whistle a relieved Romsey were left to reflect on the vital importance of a clearance whilst the score was 4-2.

Goalkeeper Lozz Scott had been required to come out and smother a shot in the previous phase of play but when the ball was lifted towards the exposed net, defender Matt Ireland was back on the line to tip the ball over his own crossbar.

The victory lifts Romsey into third spot and they have the opportunity to advance again next week as the top two sides face each other.

Camberley & Farnborough Men’s 1st XI 0 – 1 Romsey Men’s 1st XI

Romsey maintained their upward momentum as a gritty and united defensive display saw them come away from Camberley with the points. The outcome might have been different had the home side been able to take their chances in the first half but goalkeeper Lozz Scott delivered an inspirational man of the match performance to keep them out.

Camberley played without their ‘keeper for the opening ten minutes as he was delayed by traffic, but the extra outfield player enabled them to outnumber Romsey in the middle of the pitch and prevented the visitors from threatening the exposed goal.

Instead it was Camberley who earned several cheap penalty corners in the opening period of the match but Scott looked comfortable in padding away a couple of dragflicks away with his hands.

Romsey came close after winning a penalty corner of their own with Lewis Birch’s straight strike getting a deflection from injector David Edwards, but the touch was not quite strong enough to guide it inside the post.

Camberley had a big chance in open play as miscommunication saw their high forward left unmarked behind the defense after a turnover. He was found by a long pass but was put under pressure by Scott advancing from his line and the eventual reverse stick effort from a wide angle missed at the near post.

In the second half Romsey got themselves in front after Jack Murray drove into the left of the area and won a penalty corner by putting the ball on a defending foot. The routine was perfectly executed as Jack Forrest-Charde slid a pass to the back post where player-coach Danny Miles had run to deflect it in.

Romsey were reduced to 9 men for a period after receiving two green cards in quick succession but held firm. Camberley continued to win penalty corners but seemed short of ideas as they persisted with their plan of dragging at the set pieces despite Scott clearly having the measure of their flicker.

When Scott then produced a brilliant reaction save to paw away a deflected effort, Camberley must have sensed it was not their day. The final quarter saw Romsey put in a fantastic display of defensive discipline as they worked tirelessly to apply pressure on the ball carrier and to track the runs of the opposition.

The result sees the team keep pace with a thinning pack of teams chasing Regional 2 leaders Haslemere.

 

Romsey Men’s 1s 2 – 1 Sunbury & Walton Hawks Men’s 1s

Romsey extended their winning run to three games with a tight home victory over Sunbury.

The visitors boasted an impressively miserly defence that had kept four clean sheets in their first five league outings this season, but Romsey made light of this by surging into a 2-0 first half advantage.

They took the lead as Neil Strong seized upon a defensive fumble to pick out Sam Barcia and the youngster showed remarkable coolness in the area, skipping around the ‘keeper as he stepped from his line and passing the ball into the exposed goal.

It was Strong who put Romsey further ahead as he fired a low shot from the edge of the area under the arm of the diving goalkeeper after being found in space by a pass from Lewis Birch.

Birch then appeared to have added a third when he went wide around the ‘keeper and fired a reverse stick shot on target but an excellent sliding recovery by a defender deflected the effort wide. Sunbury came close with an effort of their own as a sharp deflection of a reverse stick cross went narrowly beyond the far post.

In the second half the hosts had a big chance to all but seal the points when man of the match Barcia knocked an inviting square ball across the face of goal, but the two Romsey players at the back post somehow failed to put it in the net.

This almost proved costly as Sunbury began to ratchet up the pressure on the home D, aided by a succession of turnovers of possession in the midfield by Romsey. The visitors were denied by a fantastic double save by Lozz Scott in goal with Dave Miles scrambling the ball to safety.

Sunbury did get back into the game with a well taken goal, exploiting errors in Romsey’s defense of a free hit to work the ball into the area, ending with a deflection in front of the ‘keeper.

This set up a nervy finale but Romsey held on and the result sees them join a bunch of five other teams tied in second place of Regional Div. 2 with 12 points apiece.

London Edwardians Men’s 2nd XI 0 – 2 Romsey Men’s 1st XI

An excellent tactical performance saw Romsey shrug off a swathe of unavailability in the squad to bring back three valuable points from Roehampton.

Romsey began shakily as some poor passing and a lack of leading off the ball saw them conceding possession in dangerous positions in their own half. The home side earned three early penalty corners but failed to convert each time, with two dragflicks flying wide and the other saved by a strong right hand from goalkeeper Lozz Scott.

Edwardians would regret missing these chances as Romsey settled into the game and began to exploit the very high defensive line adopted by the hosts. Several times through balls fired from the Romsey backline just failed to connect with the runs of Lewis Birch and Danny Miles.

Eventually one such pass was picked up by Birch but the goalkeeper was quick off his line to make a sliding block of a low shot. Birch also fired a penalty corner strike wide whilst Ben Butcher’s reverse stick effort lacked a deflection to put it in at the far post.

In the second half Romsey were increasingly secure in defence with their man of the match Dave Miles proving to be a rock at centreback. Romsey took the lead at a penalty corner set piece as they kept the ball alive when the initial pass was blocked and Ben Mullan’s mishit shot was sharply deflected in by Sam Barcia on the back post.

The visitors then doubled their advantage as a pass from Charlie Harrigan set up a brilliant two man move between Birch and Mullan which ended with Mullan smashing the ball past the ‘keeper at his near post. With this cushion secured, Romsey played some nice possession hockey to see the game out comfortably.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 5 – 1 City of Portsmouth Men’s 1st XI

Romsey bounced back from last week’s defeat at Haslemere by cruising to victory over opposition who had been a bogey side in their Regional Div. 2 encounters in previous seasons.

Romsey started strongly and never looked back as a lightning break that took the ball from one D to the other was ended by a stick tackle on Chris Mason just in front of goal, with Jack Forrest-Charde converting the resulting penalty stroke. The hosts kept the pressure on and doubled their advantage when Joe Welch’s pass picked out captain Ben Butcher in the area, who had time to turn and finish calmly into the bottom corner.

The hosts weathered a period of Portsmouth pressure thanks to several perfectly timed interventions in and around the D from centreback Mark Gilbert. At the other end Romsey’s forward line was on tremendous form as their pace and intelligent runs off the ball kept posing questions for the visiting defence. Man of the match Butcher in particular was leading by example and he supplied the assist for Ben Mullan’s first time volleyed effort as the Abbey side again scored after getting plenty of men forward in a quick counterattack.

Romsey made a bad start to the second half, with some poor touches in their own half putting them under pressure and Portsmouth capitalised when they converted a penalty corner with a sweetly hit straight strike.

The hosts needed to steady the ship and did so quickly when Portsmouth were hassled into losing possession in their own half and the resulting attack saw Butcher drive into the area and knock the ball past the keeper at his near post. Sadly for Romsey Mason then suffered a hamstring injury as he accelerated onto a through ball, which will rule him out of action for the next few weeks at least.

Romsey’s fifth goal came at a penalty corner when Forrest-Charde’s slide pass to the back post was not met by the intended deflection, but still could not be kept out by the defender on the line.

The hosts created further chances but were unable to convert, including a back stick effort from Sam Barcia, a first time hit from Lewis Birch and a late two on one when David Edwards was unable link up with the supporting run of Birch.

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