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