Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Match Report: City 2 Dominates In 26-3 Win

City 2 vs Reading 1 - 06.12.15
26-3 Win

Despite having a slightly depleted roster due to the double header in Cardiff, City 2 seemed determined to show that this would have no impact on the games final outcome. 

No slow starts this Sunday with David Sinclair scoring the first goal within 30 seconds of the game starting, and following it up a minute later with his second. The goals flowed for the rest of the half without Reading having an answer in either their defence or their own goal scoring ability. The half-time score was 16-1, and their one goal looked pretty well defended by Fi. 

Sadly, after the half-time break our heads went down a little and Reading scored two quick goals in succession. Spurred on by this lapse, City 2 stepped up their front defence and shut down any further attacks for the rest of the match. The whole team excelled at pressuring party balls out of attack resulting in a lot of turn overs and a very frustrated Reading. 

The goals started to flow again from both set pieces and in open play with a number of superb long shots going in. By the end of the match there were just too many goals to even hope highlighting the 'good' ones, but a special highlight was Theo bagging a none-too-shabby eight goals. Well done! It was as impressive to watch as it was easy to coach. A great display by the entire team.

MVP - Theo, though Taissa and Becca Bleeze both deserve a special mention for completely shutting down their best player 

- Match report by Jim

Monday, 7 December 2015

Match Reports: City Gets Scrappy Double Win In Wales

Oxford City vs Cardiff Raptors 06.12.15
17-14 Win
In the car on the way over we had played the classic pre-match fun guess-the-divisions game (it is a long drive!). There was some debate about what would happen but little did any of us know the Ruth Express had a fun plan to raise Frank's blood pressure. Her car's voice of reason (Claire) was over-ruled and they happily headed to the House of Sport and got kitted up. Thankfully, they realised and hot-footed it to the correct Cardiff Uni Sports Hall moments before the throw-off so we narrowly avoided playing short despite having 12 players in Cardiff.
Anyway, to the match...
We started strongly, quickly scoring the first three goals but the Raptors stayed in the fight. Looking at the other results this first match was supposed to be the easier fixture but you wouldn't have known it. Although we had the lead throughout, we didn't take control of the match as we should have done. The play was scrappy and the game had the most footballs I have ever witnessed.
Frank was clear about his disappointment at our first half. We gifted the Raptors penalties and free passes keeping them in the game. We all had penalties called against us. Dan supposedly contacted his marker with his whole body (impressive) and Claire over-enthusiastically ran down a free player at the post (I think that one was a foul). Two of our ideal goals of the back turned out to be off the court so tactics had to change.
Thankfully, Ruth's amazing long shots and brilliantly-timed runner settled the ship. This along with great defence made her the obvious choice for player of the match. Well done Ruth - you played brilliantly!
James defended a Raptor would-be goal (a leaning back veer that would have been their best goal of the game). Alice took defending to extremes, not afraid to take the fall to demonstrate being run into the feed.
Overall, the match alternated between quality and error. As an example, one moment James won and sunk a penalty, then mere moments later he conceded a penalty the other end. We won but it didn't feel like the solid victory we can produce so we knew had more work to do in the next match.
MVP - Ruth
Scorers - Ruth (5), Nick (4), James (3), Dave (3), Niall, Gaz
Oxford City vs Cardiff University - 06.12.15
14-8 Win
Dave was only on for the first 16 minutes but we had a lot to fix from the previous match and the way he played really did help us to raise our game. We scored the first four goals and kept a three-goal cushion but we had to keep working hard as Uni never gave up. There were crowds looking in from the end of pitch window and I like to believe it was because the game looked so damn good!
In attack we had something approaching shape and in defence we were disruptive to the nippy Uni players plans. It was tough to make good opportunities and Cardiff Uni had brought a giant with them. Nick did a great job keeping him very quiet on the scoring front. 
There were some poor passes/catches but we chased and pressured, often flicking it back in to play. Dan 'the bullet' was back to his glorious intercepting ways and Amy had several narrowly-denied goals. Jo got an assist from defence on a lovely runner from Gaz "25 seconds is 24 seconds too long" Clarke. Niall provided some great feeds and was unlucky on some defended calls. Becca as usual owned the post as the needed and Claire used her experience to out-match Dutch opposition.
So it was fast and we worked hard for each other. Great work everyone! A deserved victory and hopefully winning the double makes the long journey worthwhile. Thanks to Frank for the epic commitment today (and always) plus for making us raise our game.
MVP - Dave
Scorers - James (3), Nick (3), Dan (3), Dave (2), Gaz (2), Alice
- Match reports by Jo

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Match Report: City Secures One Win In Bristol Double

Oxford City vs Bristol Thunder 1 - 21.11.15
11-17 Loss

The thing I remember most about this match was the tension in those first five minutes. It was fast and we were prepared to give it all. We looked amazing with our full squad and coach. This was the most positive I have ever felt before/during a match against Thunder 1, who didn't provided the pantomime villain, and we knew that we could provide real competition on their home turf.

In the first half, Ruth and Catherine both blamed shots, and Alice got the goal we are all aiming for off the back. We timed out Thunder's attack several times with fierce defending, and Dave Ewing got a sweet long shot from the side of the court.

Tied 6-6 at half time but getting tired, the second half wasn't as beautiful. It was just a bit odd in places and our passing didn't quite match up with our ambition.

Dave Ewing had a free pass called against him which strangely stopped a Thunder goal counting. Dan's quick and lovely runner was disallowed because the shot clock had not been correctly primed. Thunder got ahead in the last quarter and slowed down their passing out of defense to a near standstill. Also, they very nearly scored an own goal with a defensive pass over the post. We lost in the end by six goals but had been in contention for the majority of the match.

So we will just have to wait until next year to beat Thunder 1! It is good to still have some aims still to conquer. MVP was Ruth for a great all round match. She took lots of nice long shots from the sides which didn't all drop today but often reset the shot clock leading to the next goal having time to be scored. Well played Ruth.

MVP - Ruth
Scorers - James (4), Dave Ewing (2), Dan (2), Alice, Amy, Ruth

Oxford City 1 vs Bristol City - 21.11.5
15 - 14 Win

After Dave Ewing had been consoled about the earlier loss, we knew we needed to be calm and in control to beat a fresh squad of players some of whom seemed much taller than is strictly necessary. Frank was definitely not having us heading home without a victory, and he got almost the same workout as the players on pitch with some intense pacing and coaching. 

No one would want to let Frank down and there were great defensive moves from Becca, Ruth and Gaz which saved us conceding at least three sunk shots form Bristol City. Gaz even went so far chasing a ball down that he almost leapt the separating wall between pitches. Niall also used his speed to recover balls which would otherwise have been lost to those pesky sidelines.

David Sinclair had his first taste of regionals and provided some great feeds while adjusting well to the tempo of the match. Most importantly in this match Gaz started scoring again - how we have been missing it! After being fouled on a runner and personally sinking the penalty, it seemed whatever had been lacking was now all better. He scored another five during the match to end up with a Dave-Ewing-trademark five.

James injured his ankle late in the first half but recovered enough to rejoin play in the dying minutes. The Bristol City boys did comment, "They must have something magic in those ice packs" but, as I imagine Dan would say, it is just "something magic about Oxford City". It was great to see that determination to come back on and help secure the win. 

The second half included a period of play when we went five goals up. Bristol City then crept back reducing our margin to just one goal. It took real discipline and control to change tactics to prolong passing out and attacks to secure victory. It was incredibly tense but in the end we did enough for that victory. Hopefully next time on our home turf, without having already played a match beforehand, we will make it look a much easier win.

Despite not scoring, Frank awarded Jo MVP for consistency (I do hope that was not about the scoresheet). He had stressed it was about making those opportunities for the team so lets say that's what I did.

Thanks to everyone for travelling and putting everything into the matches. Huge thanks to Frank who keeps us working that little bit harder. Great to see an excellent squad at an away fixture. Go Oxford City!

MVP - Jo
Scorers - Gaz (5), Dave Ewing (2), James (2), Alice (2), Dan, Niall, Ruth, Amy

- Match reports by Jo

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Rich's Blog: City Spirit Shows In Important Victories

The autumn chills may have set in but the hot streaks of City’s top teams have continued.

In the regional league, we have followed up a valiant 22-17 opening day defeat against last year’s champions, Bristol Thunder 1, with two wins. 

On 24 November, we got one of our best results in recent memory with a narrow 12-11 win against last season’s runners-up, Southampton Spartans. And, on Saturday, we secured a 19-10 victory in our match-up with Bristol Thunder 2 which, though technically a second team, is still packed full of height and talent. A special mention to James who came from a night shift to make his City regional debut in the latter match — and promptly scored seven goals!

In OKA league 1, we continued our strong start with a dominant 24-5 win against Oxford Uni. Our next OKA league 1 match, against Abingdon 1, is shaping up to be a huge one.

And in OKA league 2, City 2 also bagged two more wins — 14-4 against Isis 2 and 20-6 against Uni 2 — to set up a huge top-of-the-table clash against Isis 1. Isis 1 and City 2 are both gunning for a spot in league 1 next season, and the chance to beat our local rivals always adds extra spice! 

The match itself was a nip and tuck affair, with City taking and holding the lead, but never really accelerating away. However, City 2 held firm and came through with a 15-11 win. That’s now five wins from five and two of the toughest matches, against the newly-relegated Didcot 1 and Isis 1, out of the way as well. Next on the fixture list for City 2 is Team Tiger aka City 3.

After a strong start to the season, City 3 has faced a few tough matches, including losses of 5-10 and 7-17 against Isis 1 and Didcot 1 respectively. The goals have been dropping, though not in the numbers the Tigers would have liked, but there are some good battles coming up to put that right.

And finally, in the last month we have seen the first two matches for our newly-formed City 4, which followed up a 2-6 loss against Abingdon 3 in their first match with an 8-3 win against Reading Uni. 

So, all in all, it has been another strong month and we have been seeing great things from all our teams. Let’s keep this up for another month and go into 2016 on a high.

- Rich Heap, web editor

Match Report: James Bags Seven In Thunder 2 Win

Oxford City vs Bristol Thunder 2 - 14.11.15
19-10 Win

The plan was simple: defend tight and do what we trained on Thursday. This was a game we needed and expected to win, but that expectation was only because we have come so far from where we were last year. 

And, as it turned out, we all played brilliantly and as a team scored some beautiful goals, which were normally the result of some great teamwork. The height of the Thunder boys didn't even seem to be any issue and we kept a fast pace throughout the game. 

On the downside we were timed out in attack (but only once) and there was a period around half time where Thunder scored four or five goals in a row, although this was not really an issue in the game as a whole. We kept playing our game and, even with the divisions greatly changed by substitutions, we found ways to make it work.

We had a regional debut from James. As Amy said, if this is what he can do after a night shift just wait until next time. Seven goals is excellent and Frank was right to highlight the defensive work James put in. 

Gaz also deserves a special mention for a first half sliding ball intercept. Even hitting the wall is not enough to stop him going to get that ball back for us!

Becca scored her first regional goal of the season and generally showed off fine play to the crowd of supporters she had brought. 

Nick (or number 61 as the ref enjoyed telling him off with) had another solid performance and did not knock over any girls. He reached excellent heights on dynamic collecting jumps to ensure the ball belongs to City.

Ruth in the second half proved she is all over this shot clock thing with a lovely reset shot from just under the post.

Niall chased down numerous loose balls and used his quick turn of pace for a lovely runner.

Dan seemed to be persona-non-grata on the defended calls today despite being pretty damn close. A good come back game from numerous hip, ankle, shoulder injuries - here is hoping your new tongue injury won't affect your play to much next match.

There were many more moments during the game but it was too fast-paced for me to remember everything. To summarise the team was awesome!

There is one more key point in the game that I will mention, it happened towards the end of the first half. Unfortunately, Thunder went down to seven players and it took us a while to readjust to playing four against three. It has historically been very rare for Oxford City to be on the side with the plethora of players and how to best use the extra player is not an easy decision. On this occasion Catherine did us proud, making space and controlling the post in the face of confusing but oddly effective marking. This high work rate and finding the best way to support the division is why she is the MVP for this game. Well done!

MVP - Catherine

Scorers - James (7), Nick (4), Niall (2), Dave (2), Becca, Ruth, Amy, Jo

- Match report by Jo

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Match Report: City Nails First Regional Win Of The Season

Oxford City vs Southampton Spartans - 24.10.15
12-11 Win 

On Saturday we secured our first regional win of the season in a close match against last year's Western Regional League runners-up, Southampton Spartans. Here are the particulars. 

The first half featured impressive defensive displays by both teams. The first goal came from Southampton about 15 minutes in. This was countered by lovely long shot from Ruth, before the Dan/Dave combo got a fairly quick pair of goals putting us 3-1 up. As well as defending hard we were also playing very fast and taking shots that unfortunately didn't even provide a reset of the shot clock. Having a score of just 3-4 at half time shows the strong defensive play happening. 

The second half contained an epic battle between Andy Nye and Nick, with the latter doing amazing work marking a crucial player out of the Southampton game. He also scored four goals into the bargain, and it is no surprise that Nick was named MVP. Excellent play and disciplined when decisions didn't always go in his favour. Playing to the whistle demoed brilliantly! 

Dave put away another couple of goals second half but, aside from Nick, it was all about the super subs. Niall straight on and scoring a beautiful runner. Amy had her regional team debut and got two fine goals. One of Amy's goals came towards the end of the game when it was 10-10, and that goal put us ahead and steadied the ship at a cruicial time. 

Southampton had made good use of their tall guys with long arms and gave us a tense game. They got two goals ahead and, after we caught up, they never made it easy. But we managed to take the lead an hold on in the tense last few minutes for our first regional win of the year. Hurrah!

MVP - Nick
Scorers - Nick (4), Dave (3), Amy (2), Niall, Ruth, Dan

- Match report by Jo

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Rich’s Blog: City Starts Strong In All Three Leagues

When I joined City in autumn 2013, the club was pretty much at rock bottom. We had just finished bottom of OKA league one with no wins and were struggling to field a second team — but club spirit was still good! 

Even last year we were only able to field six players for an infamous and ill-fated trip to Basingstoke. 

But this season we’ve started strong in all three leagues to consign those dark days to history.

City’s regional team this weekend pushed last year’s champions Bristol Thunder close with a 22-17 loss in the Western Regional League. If the team plays like that all year we can expect some great wins.

City 1 has also come out of the blocks fast in OKA league 1. The team started the season with a 20-9 win against the newly-promoted Southampton City 1, which bulldozed its way through league 2 south last year and has very experienced players in the likes of Andy Nye and David Creed. 

City 1 followed this with a 14-14 draw against the rapidly-improving Farnborough Jets, though this was a slightly disappointing result given that we held the lead at half time. But the team roared back with a 23-9 win against the always-strong Basingstoke Bulls, which is our first competitive win against them in three years. At the time of writing, City 1 sits proudly atop OKA league 1.

Meanwhile, in OKA league 2, we are also top. City 2 has recorded 12-7 and 12-6 wins against Didcot Dragons 1 and 2 respectively to top the division.

And City 3 (aka Team Tiger) has also started tigerishly and shows that the club as a whole is gaining great strength in depth. We followed a narrow 13-15 loss to a strong Didcot 2 on opening day with a 7-5 win against Isis 2, and then a 5-10 loss against an experienced and promotion-chasing Isis 1. The fact that City 3 can now mix it with the first team of fierce local rivals Isis shows just how far we are coming.

The performances of all these teams show that there are plenty of reasons to be positive this year — and the first match for City 4 later this month is another indication of how far we are coming. Meanwhile, the atmosphere off-the-pitch is as good as I can remember it. The Oxford City spirit has always been strong, but the regular wins make it that much sweeter!

If we keep this up then we can expect many more successes in 2015/16. One, two, three… City!

- Rich Heap, web editor

Match Report: City Push Thunder Close

Oxford City vs Bristol Thunder 1 - 10.10.15
17-22 Loss
It was a strong start to this year's Western Regional League season against last season's champions.
Thunder scored first within the first minute of play but we responded with a runner from Nick and a mid-range shot for Jo. The scores stayed very close through out the first half. So many shots went up we barely noticed having a shot clock and Dave/Dan were sinking some beautiful long shots to keep us neck and neck with Thunder. Ruth scored a short shot just before half time to bring us into the break leading 9-8.
Second half the boys took over the scoring. Dan scored a couple of runners (one off a witch). Gaz had a penalty and a close-range shot. Dave helped us out of trouble with long shots that were always going to be in the basket. Nick had a difficult time against the height of Thunder but still found time for three goals. Alice had to come off with a rolled ankle after epic defense against Thunder's chief goal threat. It was a surprise was that her elbow wasn't hurt by her marker running her head into it. Catherine had her regional team debut and slotted into the whirling dervish attacks nicely. Niall had some great chances that just didn't drop but provided an injection of pace whenever he was on the pitch.
We all played really well. There are definitely areas for improvement but we displayed a tempo and level of self belief that feels new to the regional squad. We lost in the last 15 minutes where Thunder got five goals in a row but we didn't let our heads drop. We were coming back but the time was up. The training is paying off and we are looking a real threat in this years regional league. In future we need a bit more communication, get rid of those odd stray passes and more high fives. There was inconsistent quality of high fiving. We need that fixed for next match! 
It is a shame not come home with the victory but we can all be proud of the way we played. If we continue to play as well we are in good shape for this season.
MVP - Alice, for a defensive triumph against Ruth Campbell. She defended at least three would-be goals and disrupted the normal Thunder game plan. Excellent work, Alice! I hope you ankle enjoys a well-earned rest.
Scorers - Dave Ewing (5), Dan (4), Nick (3), Ruth (2), Gaz (2), Jo

- Match report by Jo

City Strong in Bristol Pre-Season Curtain Raiser

A strong City squad travelled down to the Bristol Invitational Indoor Tournament on Sunday for several hours of intense korfball as a warm-up for the regional league season, and playing with a shot clock for the first time. It was a great opportunity to score some early psychological points against our regional rivals and, with Wales using the tournament as part of their trials process, the level of play was high!

With Nick and Gaz representing Wales (great to see!), the City squad was James, Dan, Ian, Dave Ewing, Niall, Ruth, Alice, Jo, Fi and Amy. Everyone had a great tournament.  If I could sum it up in one phrase, it would be: 'Oxford City have arrived.' We were unseeded, so needed to win our morning group to progress to the quarter finals.

First up were Cardiff Raptors, who will be one of rivals in the regional league. It was a very tight game as we we slowly woke up after our very early start to the day (we're not designed to play away at 9am!).  We ended up deservedly winning by one goal after a large number of penalties for both sides, and some great defence by Fi and Amy. Assist prizes went to Alice and Niall.  
Final score: 5-4 win vs Cardiff Raptors (Goals - Dan 3, James 1, Dave 1)

Then came Bristol Thunder 2, who will be making their regional league debut after winning the South West League last year. Despite strong home support, we were on fire, as our long shots started to find their range. Even though all the matches were only 30 minutes, we quickly raced into a 9-1 lead and, while they pulled some back towards the end as we relaxed, the result was never in doubt. Group winners!
Final score: 9-4 win vs Bristol Thunder 2 (Goals - James 4, Dan 3, Niall 1, Dave 1)

Our quarter-final was against Wales, who had mounted an amazing comeback in the previous round from four goals down against Leicester to progress at their expense.  We were facing a pumped-up Gaz and Nick in Wales shirts, so we knew we'd have to defend well and take our chances. I suspect what happened next surprised all observers. City took a two-goal lead, and were defending well. After that, a nice long shot from Nick and couple of quick fire goals (including a penalty) gave Wales a one-goal advantage.  The basket then came to Wales's aid several times as our shots didn't quite drop and, despite trading goals and equalizing through Niall, a massively defended goal (I'm not bitter Gaz!!) gave the lead back to Wales. Both sides then defended very well and were equally matched for ages, leaving Wales with a one-goal victory. Or an 8-3 victory to City players! It was awesome to see such a strong performance from both the players in a City shirt, and the City players in a Wales shirt, and it was a really tight and enjoyable match to play in.
Final score: 5-6 loss vs Wales (Goals - Niall 2, Dan 2, Alice 1, Dave 1)

Our next match was a placing knockout against Leicester. We were a bit tired after the Wales match, but we played well, and were left frustrated as we worked good chances that wouldn't quite drop. Ian was unlucky to have a one-handed running shot called as defended, while Alice was on fire, scoring a hattrick via a long shot, a drop off and a free pass. The rest of our goals came from long shots, but the Leicester attackers were also in shooting form and we ended with a narrow loss.
Final score: 5-6 loss vs Leicester (Goals - Alice 3, Ruth 1, Dan 1)

Our final game was a playoff for 7th/8th place against regional league rivals Bristol City, who beat us home and away last year. We were determined to put in a strong performance as we felt we'd been unlucky in the previous matches, and we wanted to leave a lasting impression on our rivals.  

We mixed up divisions a bit from the rest of the day, with James pairing with Dan, alongside Ruth and Alice, while Niall and Dave partnered with Jo and Amy, with Fi and Ian coming on halfway through. The pre-match team talk centred around playing to our potential and finishing on a high, and boy did we deliver. Alice continued her great afternoon scoring form with five goals despite facing a strong girl, and we had goals scattered through the team as we showed the full range of our scoring options.

Bristol were dangerous throughout with a 9-foot giant man, but Alice and Ruth ran their socks off preventing the female opposition profiting from the running-in shot opportunities he provided. They also worked numerous opportunities in attack, and when two of your most experienced players walk off the court feeling physically sick after 30 minutes you know they've left it all out on the court. Well done ladies! 

Jo scored a sublime free pass (and was equally exhausted!) and Ian was unlucky not to join the scoresheet as several shots came close after working space through great movement.  After the number of goals we scored in 30 minutes I feel the 20 goals in a game barrier is there for the taking this year!
Final score: 13- 7 win vs Bristol City 
(Goals - Alice 5, Dan 4, Ruth 1, James 1, Dave 1, Jo 1)

It was a great performance from the entire squad, and I was delighted with how the day way. I was particularly pleased by the performances of Fi and Ian, who took the step up from OKA division 2 to playing against international players like ducks to water. They defended strongly and were unlucky not to be on the scoresheet themselves. Player of the morning was James, and player of the afternoon was Alice.  

Oh, and the shot clock? We were only buzzed time out once in the day, while other sides experienced several per match, so we can take a lot of confidence from that.  Strong defence on our part, and relentless attacking as we tried to emulate the dynamic style that Frank and Gaz have been coaching us in. Proud of everyone.

- Epic tournament report from Dan

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Rich’s Blog: Derby Double Secures Second For City 2

On Sunday, City 2 finished the League 2 season with two tough derby matches. The chance of the championship went a couple of months ago with a few mid-season losses — including to eventual champions Abingdon 2 — but we still wanted to end on a high by securing second place.

The only problem is we’d have to do so by winning two back-to-back matches against teams that are very keen to beat us: first, our showdown with City 3; and second, against local rivals Isis 2. 

Personally, there were two defining moments of the afternoon. During the team talk for the first match when stand-in coach Ruth told I’d be taking penalties; and one minute before the start of the match when I stopped copying the standard penalty technique and found my own. But anyway…

We took to the court for the all-City derby looking ridiculous in our 80s fitness video fancy dress, but were taking the match very seriously. We knew City 3 would be desperate to put one over on us, and would be far better drilled than when we played them before Christmas. And they’re also younger than us, fitter than us, and do unfair things like play other sports. Harumph!

Thankfully, we raced into a two-goal lead with two goals from yours truly: my first-ever successful running-in shot and my first-ever successful penalty. We then had a scrappy phase where they got one back, we scored another, they got one back again, and so on. Tense stuff.

But we managed to pull away and then kept up the scoring in the second half. I don’t recall who got the goals — sorry! — but I do know Jen got one that rolled up the front of the korf and somehow went in; and I definitely got another runner and another penalty in the second half. We took our foot off the pedal in the final quarter to save our legs for the next match, but finished with an 11-3 win.

Quick change into our traditional City blue and we were off again, with Awesome Becca in place of Jen; Theo instead of Jim; and Arge replacing Niall in my fantastic division alongside Charlotte and Hannah. We knew we’d need a fast start as our old legs would start to tire later on, and start fast we did. We raced into an 8-1 lead by half time with goals spread around the team.

Our second stand-in coach Gaz set us the goal of doubling our score and keeping Isis to one. Alas, it didn’t quite happen like that as tiredness set in, and I was eventually carried off after pulling a calf muscle. We ended up losing the second half — but won the match 11-5 overall. Great work!

So City 2 won two from two to secure second place in League 2. Thanks to everyone who’s given their all in a good season, and great to see new recruit Anthony using his height well in his first two City appearances from the bench. Bodes well for a strong 2015/16 season.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Match Report: A Regional Rumble With Thunder

Oxford City vs Bristol Thunder - 14.03.15
19-10 Loss

On Saturday we played Bristol Thunder and lost. The final score was 10-19 but that's not really the full story. We are absolutely right to count this as a victory, even though it wasn't!

To put things in context Thunder regularly score 20+ goals in a game, are strong favourites to win the Western Regional League this season, and have only lost one game this season across several leagues. Also when we last played them we were beaten by a margin of 25 goals. They are a high-scoring and difficult team to play, and I think it's fair to say we were expecting to be badly beaten. However Frank had given us new tactics on Thursday and as usual we were all there ready to play our best.

As it happened we played better than our best. The first third of the match was like a whirlwind. We claimed the first goal and, although Thunder repeatedly drew level, we kept creating more chances and sinking more goal. It was 6-5 at 20 minutes in. What a difference a training session makes! Our fast-paced attack wasn't perfect but it was working. Becca was doing an amazing job with Thunder's Ruth, a Welsh international, and stayed focused.

At half time we were losing 9-6 but still elated about how well we had started this match -- perhaps even shocked -- and determined to keep working as hard as possible.

Second half and our whirling dervish attack was taking its toil. Some passes went astray, the patience to wait for the right shot was not always used and there were points where if we had communicated better Thunder would not have scored. It was my turn to roll my ankle and I strongly felt the error in not having a girl sub. Meanwhile, the tall boys Thunder had brought with them made multi-shot attacks very difficult to come by. 

But we kept working and getting goals but not quite as quickly as the opponents. Dan made all of his penalties count and Gaz 'n' Dave (Ewing) formed the scoring duo from the first half. Our Ruth had some lovely shots but gravity was not on her side on this occasion!

By the end of the game you could have told me any scoreline and I would have believed it. Everybody played with everything they had and it was great to be a part of. Things might not have been perfect but we were pulling together, chasing down any loose ball and with a little more practice even beating the top team in our region doesn't seem out of the question.

Thanks to Frank as always - we always play better when you are there to straighten us out. Thanks to Nicola for fitting in beautifully on his City debut, and Theo for the injection of pace in the second half.

Scorers: Alice (3), Dan (3), Dave (2), Gaz, Jo

MVP: Very tricky decision. We all raised our game and played furiously -- so we all deserve special mentions! And it was very tempting to give player of the match to Frank for supreme coaching. In the end Alice with a penalty-free hat trick and playing flawlessly in defence is my player of the match. 

- Match report by Jo

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Match Reports: City 2 and 3 Do Well Despite Double Defeat

City 2 vs Oxford Uni 2 - 08.03.015
12-10 Loss

City 2 went down to a resurgent Oxford Uni 2 on Sunday afternoon at St Greg's. It needs to be said that Uni 2 are a stronger proposition this season than they have been for some time, as the fact that they won three out of three on Sunday testifies (including a rout of an uncharacteristically lacklustre Abingdon 3 side in their final match). The fact they had four Uni 1 players in the team also helped!

In this context, we can take a degree of satisfaction from keeping pace with them for much of the match (we won the second half 3-2!). At one point we were four behind, so to go into the last quarter of the game still with a prospect of victory is definitely something to be happy with. Uni's boys were big, strong and quick (a real handful in other words) and the better opportunities came with our girls at the posts, Hannah, Charlotte and Fi doing particularly well in winning collects.

Scorers: Simon (3), Niall (2), Jim (2), Charlotte, Fi, Rich

MVP: Niall: Having already played for the firsts, he bagged two goals and defended well against the wiles of Dave Sinclair.

- Match report by Simon

City 3 vs Oxford Uni 2 - 08.03.015
12-5 Loss

Next up to bat for City were 'Team Awesome', and this they were also up against a strong Uni line-up that had previously beaten City 2. But that doesn’t matter to Team Awesome!

I suspect people came off the court feeling disappointed to lose, but no one should have done. It was by far the best performance I’ve seen from Team Awesome this season. Yes, it’s great to beat teams like Isis 2 (it’s always nice to win!), but to put in a performance like I saw on Sunday (against very strong opposition) is the real testament to Team Awesome’s progress as individuals and as a team.

The biggest difference versus a few weeks ago was the speed of movement and passing in attack.  We created opportunities, scored some great goals, and looked a threat throughout.  Michelle showed nerves of steel to score a penalty as well (no celebration though!). We were also a lot more solid in defence, and didn’t give away many cheap goals. Uni had to work hard for their win.  

To give further context, five of the Uni players also played in  the Uni 1 team that drew 9-9 with Farnborough in Division 1, so restricting them to 12 is good. Let’s build on this and go out and get a win against Abingdon 3 next week. Special mention to Theo by the way for getting up and dusting himself off after being knocked to the ground not once, but twice, by aerial uni players while trying to take a free pass. It’s a bold way to win penalties!

Goals: Michelle (1), Becca (1), Rich M (1), Ian B (1), Laura (1)

MVP: Laura

- Match report by Gaz

Match Report: City Slays The Dragons

City 1 vs Didcot 1 - 08.03.15
19-2 Win

It’s a sign of City’s progress this season that we utterly dominated a pretty experienced Didcot side, but were actually a bit disappointed in some ways when we came off.  

There were definitely areas of improvement to work on: we failed to score for the first 15 minutes, and a lot of our shots were going very long initially. Definitely something to work on in training. However, once Dave Everett kicked us off with an inch perfect long shot, Ruth got her range and quickly followed with another one and the floodgates opened. In the end the mythical 20-goal barrier was tantalising close, but for the second time this season we fell one goal short, with a similar story of shots rolling around the rim only to fall off. Ultimately we were left rueing the slow start, but it’s hard to be too critical of such a heavy victory!

Korfball is a team game, but individual battles are also important, and special mention goes to Gaz, who finished in credit against Dave “5 goals a game” Ewing, scoring two and restricting Dave to one. After getting his eye in it was our Dave E who scored five instead. Alice and Ev combined excellently to demonstrate dynamic defence and great speed in attack as well. Both divisions were excellent in defence, actually - Didcot rarely looked like scoring.

Scorers: Dave E (5), Ev (3), Dan (3), Gaz (2), Niall (2), Ruth (2), Alice (1), Claire (1)

MVP: Dave E was definitely in the running with his excellent five goals, and it was great to see Ev stamping her superiority on her opponent. However, I’m going to give it to Gaz: he didn’t have a particularly flashy game (despite scoring an awesome long shot), but he did the dirty stuff in defense really well, and nullified a massively danger player.

- Match report by Dan

Monday, 9 February 2015

Match Report: City Loses Tough Spartans Battle

Southampton Spartans vs Oxford City - 07.02.15
24-7 Loss

Looking at the goals scored you would probably think this wasn't a good game but we had a full City squad out again and we were actually actioning some of our training properly for maybe the first time. Gaz and Frank's feedback on individuals and the team was really valuable. We started to get some sort of shape in attack and we were competing against players who are nearly in the national league. They were definitely tall enough!

I think we all played well and pushed ourselves to improve within the match. Here is just a couple of examples:

Rich had a transformative game. Initially his speedy boy was getting away but, after Rich adjusted position, you could see the joy of foiling a one-trick player. Add in some lovely long shots and it is clear Rich was having a great game.

Ruth also scored a nice couple of goals despite that division's constant Alex Bell-shaped troubles. Gaz did a good job keeping him out while the rest of the division shared the post but this is no easy job.

Frank was upbeat and exceptionally insightful. Having the feedback is so helpful and part of the reason this lost game still feels such a positive. Within the game we all improved and worked together. The team spirit is back and we are working hard on getting the goals to drop.

Scorers: Rich (2), Ruth (2), Dan, Alice, Gaz

MVP: Alice. Stolid defending and even finding time for a goal. She saved me with a switch several times and provided great post support for the boys. A great all round performance.

- Match report by Jo