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.

After two months of reasonable game and set piece training, but hampered by poor pre-league availability, a buoyant Romsey team finally delivered the goods against a relatively limited 10-man opposition.  Playing with our preferred single forward, five-man midfield and one-three defence plus three subs, a crushing result of 9-1 in our favour provided just the start that was needed.

RHC got the perfect start when Mozza Simpson-Scott seized on a defensive error to round the keeper within the first minute; this was backed up by a mazy, lanky run plus lunge from Ali Nawn – 2-0 in ten minutes.  Play then continued back and forth for most of the half.  Surprisingly, B&S won the first few penalty corners, but the home defence, well marshalled by Rob Noble and Jimmy Ponsford, held firm.  Following a couple of sharp saves from Nigel King in goal, a loopy miss-hit deceived everyone – 2-1!  Disappointed, but not undone, RHC immediately responded with Tom Wigley easing through and making it 3-1.  RHC then started to really dominate.  Strong performances from Jamie Sanderson in defence aided by Ben Davidson on the right and Felix Chapman-Sheath and Mozza higher up ensured that the ball was kept alive; several further chances went begging.  Not that everything was all one sided, the left flank of James Croft-Baker (JCB) and Cameron Le Grande also provided a constant threat.

After a positive half-time talk, RHC really turned the screw.  Six more goals followed:  Tom, Mozza, Ben, Ali and Noah Cooper (2).  Overall, RHC used the ball well, switching left and right, probing, but coming back as required; exactly to plan.  Even better, player availability for ball release was much improved; good calling and direction also helped.  On the down side, some ill considered individual runs, the odd aerial or wishful 45 degree pass still led to lost possession; patience is needed here.  Play the game plan, simple, considered; keep the ball, then pounce.  RHC gained any number of penalty corners.  Whilst we did not score, there were several near misses and, in the main, all routines looked dangerous.  Considering we had 14 players and numerous substitutions, it was good to see the team so effective in this essential set play; well worth our pre-league practices.

In summary, an excellent start against a weaker team; more demanding games will follow.  League debutants Jamie (MoM), Noah and Felix all played their part – well done.  Given their ages and relative inexperience, this was really pleasing.  A further mention must also go to Spencer Le Grande who managed to execute Ali’s substitution plan without fault; pace, structure and rhythm were maintained throughout.  Not mentioned above, but still worthy of note:  Christian Pain for a mature performance in central midfield playing ahead of Ali and Dave Miles who covered most positions in defence at some stage.

In the first run out after the Christmas break, Romsey HC 2’s were keen to put the miserable end to the previous year behind them. Losing in back to back games against Title Rivals Hamble and lowly Bournemouth had put Romsey on the brink of being pushed out the race to Hants Div 3.
Emotions were high, adrenaline was higher and Romsey started the match at an unprecedented tempo immediately putting League leaders Haslemere on the back foot.
Within 10 minutes the wave after wave of slick passing movement between the Romsey front 3 and the pacey wingers Romsey got their first short corner. A simple quick push out to the top of D on the impeccable Romsey pitch gave Ali Nawn a chance to let loose a powerful strike under the foot of the flailing Haslemere keeper, 1 nill to RHC.
Romsey looked dominant in possesion and strong at the back proving a strong opposition for Haslemere until a rare attack saw Haslemere cut back from the byline, causing the pass to glance off a Romsey foot in the D and setting up the Haslemere forward to shoot low and sure into the bottom left of the goal. 1-1.
The second half started with a fast tempo and both teams felt they could snatch the crucial 3 points with end to end attacking pleasing the now substantial spectator numbers. A rejuvenated Haslemere looked the most dangerous and Romsey seemed to be hanging on for the first time in the game, with the two pacey Haslemere forwards causing havoc attacking the Romsey goal at speed making Veteran Goalie ‘Safe hands Nige’ to pull off some classy saves, somehow keeping Romsey in it, as well as securing him MOM in the process.
Sadly even these heroics had to come to an end eventually and Haslemere completed a slick 1, 2 move at the top of the Romsey D that some say resembled “a hot knife through butter” with Haslemere scoring and going 2-1 up with 15 to go.
Romsey never really looked like getting back in the game after that and with committing more and more men forward in a valiant effort to equalise got got at the back once again and Haslemere scored again to make it 3-1.
The game ended as such and a battered and bruised Romsey left the arena knowing that not only that this result may well have ended their chance of promotion this season, but also that they have some serious thinking to do before the next fixture against Yately.

Promotion to Hants Div 4 has proved to be a challenge that has been more than met by the 2nd’s unique blend of youth, good journeymen, mature ex-stars and the downright ancient! However, inconsistency and, at times, a lack of understanding and focus, as to just what is our team strategy, have led to mixed results. Strong victories against Haslemere 3rd (6-4), Yateley 3rd (6-0), Soton University 3rd (3-0), Fareham 6th (3-0) and Swanage & Wareham 1st (7-1) plus creditable draws against Havant 4th (2-2) and Fleet & Ewshot 1st (2-2) were somewhat let down by dour draws against US Portsmouth 1st (2-2) and, disappointingly, Aldershot & Farnham 3rd (3-3) plus defeats against Hamble 2nd (1-2) and Bournemouth 4th (0-2). In defeat, our performance at Hamble was excellent, reflecting a keen team ethic, even if heads dropped following a few strange umpiring decisions. However, our efforts against Bournemouth left much to be desired; too much route one and not enough patient build-up. At the mid-point, we find ourselves 4th, some 6 points behind the leaders, Haslemere. Yet, we could so easily have gained those 6 points and who knows what? Frustrating for all, but a good lesson, which might yet reinvigorate the brain cells?! 

Player strengths and a need to control midfield have led to us having to play a midfield heavy formation. Basically, 1 or 2 forwards, 4 or 5 in midfield and a reasonably conventional 4 man defence. Width is provided by the wide midfield players and, providing we move up and down at the pace of our 2 or 3 central midfield players, we have been able to control significant periods in most games; goals and penalty corners have flowed. However, if personal discipline drops, possession becomes harder to maintain and we seem to revert to the long hopeful pass. All that this guarantees is lost possession and tired legs, as we have discovered to our cost. Our defence, in the main, has been well marshalled with few obvious mistakes; we currently have the best defensive record in the league.    

 

Availability has been reasonably consistent, but injuries and diary bookings have knocked us on occasion. Squad members are listed below.

 

Attack: Martin Simpson-Scott, Matchey Lincoln, James Fraser, Christian Pain, Ali Nawn, Joe Powell, Cameron Le Grande, Chris Harwood, Greig Stewart.  

 

Defence: Hugh Davidson, Ben Davidson, Jimmy Ponsford, Rob Noble, James Croft-Baker, Morgan Robertson, Nigel King (GK).  

 

Plus: Jonathan Cuff, Connor O’Dowda, Jon Marsh, Simon Morford, Jim East.

 

In summary, a good start to a new, stronger league. All players have played their part with many moments of magic from the very youngest all the way through to most ancient; as evidenced by the numerous different men of the match! Looking ahead, team work is everything and we can produce more. Despite the diverse mix, we all seem to thrive off each other and there is a nice buzz around the team. If we can further stir up the collective gel and keep the ball, we can really do things. Only time will tell?! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Anon.  

 

 

 

 

Team

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Romsey men’s 2nd XI continued their winning start to the season with a thumping 6-0 win over Yateley.

The visitors were hampered by an early injury to their centre forward who made little impression to the game, save to occupy one of the home defenders.

Martin Simpson Scott netted the opener when his well struck shot was deflected beyond the away keeper.

Romsey doubled their advantage when Jonathan Cuff wove a mazy path around 5 away defenders before finding James Fraser who crashed home from 9 yards in clinical fashion.

Romsey turned the screw after the break, Simpson Scott grabbing his second, smashing home a Greig Stewart pass shovelled on by Jonathan Cuff.

Fourth was a memorable solo effort from Matchey Lincoln, self passing close to the circle, advancing in and shooting high past the keepers right glove.

Ali Nawn missed a penalty stroke awarded for a foot on the goal line, but immediately made amends with a sharp reaction swat to net Simpson Scott’s looping shot over the GK.

Nawn completed the scoring with a brilliant rebound after man of the match Jonathan Cuff saw his penalty corner strike hit the base of the right hand post.

 

 

  The men’s 2s travelled to Gosport for a match that could define their season. The team, much changed from recent weeks was a mixture of youth and experience. Only 4 of their outfield players were over 18 and the lack of experience looked like it might turn the fixture into a banana skin for the visiting team.

Romsey started the match tentatively and quickly surrendered possession. The Romsey skipper then managed to kick the ball in his own D giving away a short corner. Gosport converted with a firm strike past Adam Sankey in the Romsey goal and were 1-0 after only 5 minutes.

Fortunately the shock of going behind galvanised Romsey from their slow start and they started to build up some control. The midfield pair of Ali Nawn and Christian Pain gave the visitors composure and Romsey started to pass the ball more confidently. Wingers Ben Davidson and Chris Harwood stretched the Gosport defence and Zak Cooper was a constant threat as the lone striker.

Romsey’s pressure started to tell and they secured a penalty corner of their own in the 23rd minute. A tidy routine saw a low drag flick from Pain hit the backboard, parity was restored.

Gosport owed much to their keeper who pulled of a series of stunning saves. Cooper saw two sharp deflections cleared off the line and then a penalty flick opportunity also went begging.

As the half wore on wing backs Hugh Davidson and James Manning found much more space and created mayhem with their mazes runs forward. It was one of these attacks that led to another Romsey penalty corner. In an effort to confuse the excellent home keeper Romsey varied their routine, Robertson received the ball at the top of the D held for a second a slipped the ball to Ben Davidson who made no mistake finishing neatly to go very the visitors the lead. Soon after Cooper went one on one with the Gosport goalie and although his initial effort was saved he picked up the rebound, lifted it over the keeper and scored. Romsey duly went to the turn with a comfortable 3-1 lead.

The second half saw Romsey continue to dominate an increasingly grumpy Gosport team. Great work from Ben Manning at centre back saw him win the ball and feed through to Joe Powell at inside forward. He turned his man and won another penalty corner. This time Romsey varied again, returning the injection straight back to man of the match Greig Stewart who managed to win the goal mouth scramble to put his team 4-1 up. Romsey’s last goal came again from a penalty corner. Pain struck hard but his first effort was saved. He picked up the rebound though and flicked hard past the on rushing Gosport keeper. Final score 5-1.

Romsey’s last match is against struggling Fordingbridge and it will take an likely series of results and the turnover of a 30 goal advantage for them not to be crowed champions next weekend.

Romsey were made to work in the first half for what will look like a one sided match, but the opening twenty minutes saw Romsey pressing but with no end result.
The best move in the opening period was a mazey run by Zak Cooper from his own half, but his pass to Ali Nawn couldn’t lead to a shot on goal.
Carl Hendy came on up front and his experience put pressure on the Havant defence, and with Matt Munro, Nawn and Greig Stewart then winning the midfield it was from James Manning cross Romsey won a penalty corner.

Stewart pushed out to Nawn, who shot, for Stewart to get a touch at the near post to put Romsey 1-0 up.
The lead was doubled soon after, again Manning crossed down the right and touch from James Croft-Baker found left back Hugh Davidson at the far post to sweep home for a 2-0 lead, and his first senior goal.
The arrears were almost reduced just before half time, but keeper Alex buck pulled off a tremendous one footed save from a Havant penalty corner to maintain the 2-0 half time scoreline.
In the second half Romsey went up a gear, Greig Stewart and Zak Cooper exchanged a number of one-two passes before Stewarts shot was saved and pushed across goal for Ben Manning to score for 3-0.
Stewart then took a quick free hit and ran in to the circle to shoot for 4-0 and soon after grabbed his hat trick with an even better shot.
Then it was Ali Nawn’s turn, picking up the ball from Munro, he weaved his way up the left, inside towards the circle, and then shot as he fell for 6-0.
With Skipper Stuart Robertson and centre back James Ponsford comfortable at the back, Romsey created wave after wave of attacks.  

Stalwart Hendy saw his shot saved by the keepers foot, before Nawn played in Colin Harwood to cross to Zak Cooper to get on the scoreline, and then Nawn played in Harwood who shot on the turn for 8-0 victory. 

The men’s 2s continued their impressive form following up on their 8-1 win over Salisbury with a 15-1 demolition of City of Portsmouth. With other results going their way the 2s cemented their position at the top of division 5 moving 3 points clear.
Romsey started the game in impressive fashion and were 1-0 up after 7 minutes. The visitors could not cope with Romsey’s passing game and by the turn were 9-0 down.
The Pompey skipper must have had the inspirational skills of Henry V and within minutes of the start of the second half they had pulled a goal back. The rally was short lived though and Romsey soon switched back on. Their second half display was less impressive though and they only managed another 6 more goals.
Romsey’s goals came from Tim Bailey with 5, 4 each from Martin Simpson-Scott and James Fraser and then one each from Joe Powell and Richard Lake. The 2s next match is away in Havant where another win will bring their hopes of promotion a little bit closer.

The men’s 2s produced their best performance of the season with an 8-1 demolition of Salisbury. The game started at a frantic pace with some end to end hockey. The deadlock was quickly broken though when Christian Pain threw an aerial behind the visitors defence for centre forward James Fraser to chase. He latched on to this and put a ferocious ball across the face of the goal where winger Tom Ponsford neatly deflected into the roof of the net.

This proved a false start for the home team and the scores were levelled soon after when Romsey failed to deal with a crash ball into their own D and the Salisbury front man deflected past goalie Adam Sankey. 

Romsey soon started to dominate. Their formidable midfield controlled the ball when in possession and the home side created a stifling press on Salisbury when they were not. Goals from James Fraser, Grieg Stewart, Rob Kerr and Ali Nawn completed the first half rout and Romsey went to the turn 5-1 to the good.

The flood gates appeared to have opened at the start of the second half. Within 2 minutes a home short corner routine saw an initial shot half stopped only for Chris Harwood to pop up at the near post with a neat reverse stick finish. Shortly after another short was slipped to Ponsford on the right whose shot found a hapless Salisbury foot on the line. The penalty was covered by Rob Kerr. 
This promising start to the half was not wholly capitalised on as Romsey seemed determined that everyone could get on the score sheet. A lot of pressure was not converted and the only goal action left saw Kerr complete his hatrick with a cheeky deflection in front of the visiting ‘keeper.

With a final score of 8-1 Romsey’s destiny is very much in their own hands.

The men’s 2s knew that if they returned from their day trip to the coast with points rather than just an empty bucket and spade then their destiny would remain in their own hands.

Weymouth’s young team started the game in a spirited manner threatening to but never quite making the most of their early pressure. Evergreen Dave Andrews and tyro Hugh Davidson snuffed out the wide threats which James Manning and skipper Stuart Robertson controlled the middle.

Romsey slowly started to play their own game as midfield general Ali Nawn and playmaker Christian Pain controlled and then created the match. Eventually some neat interplay gave Dave Miles possession in the Weymouth D where he won a short corner. Romsey’s routine was disrupted but a rebound was leapt on my Zak Cooper who broke the deadlock from a narrow angle. 1-0 at half time.

Romsey started the second half in a generous manner, regularly winning possession and then returning the ball to Weymouth for them to have another go. Inside forwards Ben Manning and Fergus Longman started to play with rythum and Chris Harwood was a constant threat down the wing. Eventually it was his pace the found him on the base line and his neat cross found James Croft-Baker at the back post were he made no mistake and secured the 3 points for the day trippers.

With Gillingham loosing Romsey now sit clear at the top of Division 5.


The men’s 2s went into their first league match after the seasonal break knowing that a win against Aldershot and Farnham would seem them leap from the opposition to go second in Hampshire Div 5.

Both teams started the game at a high tempo aware of the importance of the fixture. The enthusiasm of both teams rather overshadowed their skills as possession was handed backwards and forwards during the opening period. The home team were well marshalled at the back by man of the match and skipper Stuart Robertson who snuffed out numerous Aldershot attacks with some solid tackles and clinical interceptions. Romsey were unable to break the deadlock though and at half time the match remained goalless.

The second half began as frenetically as the first and it took until the mid point before the decisive blow was struck. Great work from Chris Harwood and James Croft-Baker saw the ball crossed firmly to midfield general Alistair Nawn who finished neatly from close range.

I the shock of going a goal down put the ‘Shots off and they quickly conceded a short corner. The injection was stopped well by Robertson and Christian Pain finished clinically with a powerful flick into the top left corner.

Romsey continued to dominate and soon put the game to bed when play maker Rob Kerr found space and finished an individual move with an excellent finish into the away teams onion bag.

Romsey continued to press and the extra space at the back gave Aldershot hope. Their endeavours were repelled by the imperious home defensive unit though who won back possession and fed the ball back up field. The score could easily have done Aldershot a disservice if Ben Manning and James Fraser had not squandered a couple of straightforward chances as the clock ran down. This was an almond impressive display from Romsey though and they will hope to push on a challenge for promotion.


  

Romsey Men’s 2s eased to 5-1 win against a grumpy Gosport 2nd XI. The home team started with a bare 11 but held firm during the opening exchanges. Young debutant Ben Davidson, who impressed throughout and Joe Powell, struck down with man flu, battled hard down the flanks and Gosport’s early threats were thwarted.
Ironically the opening goal came from a quick Gosport break just after the first of Romsey’s late arrivals, Christian Pain, made it onto the pitch. The visitor’s playmaker made a powerful run through the midfield and found a rapid colleague who beat the home defence and placed his shot neatly past Sankey in goal.
Dropping behind galvanised Romsey and they started to get their passing game going. Some smart work from Greig Stewart drew the foul and Tim Bailey converted the subsequent penalty corner with a low drag flick. 
Romsey continued to dominate the game, Chris Hardwood a constant threat down the wing and the defence marshalled by skipper Stuart Robertson held firm. Some neat exchanges and a killer ball from Jim East finding James Croft-Baker who subsequently passed to James Fraser in the D who dunked over the hapless Gosport keeper. 2-1 at half time.
On top Romsey were keen for a quick turn around and duly came out of the blocks fast. Another short corner was quickly won and this time Christian Pain found the top corner with a powerful flick. 
Romsey continued to attack and a quick one two from the 23 between Robertson and Pain was followed by a cross to Charlie Harrigan who scored from a tight angle. The scoring was completed with a carbon copy drag flick from Pain at another penalty corner.
Gosport continued to battle but were unable to make any serious inroads and in the end ran out of steam. Romsey stay in third in division 5, hoping for a more consistent second half of the season to try and make a serious promotion challenge.

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