Lock-down at Oaklands..
By Chris Armitage
See what I did there ?
A more detailed match report coming, but...
A rematch from the previous week, the Refills travelled to St Albans and the fine Oaklands School on a murky December day where complacency from the victory the week before was the biggest danger. The St Albans side were notably stronger, with 15 players and some new faces, where the Refills were a little disrupted due to surprise lack of availability only having 10 of the 14 regulars available. Three debuts led to a few players being out of position which impacted the flowing hockey from the week before but a big thanks goes out to Gavin Hill, for playing his second game since the Summer; to Masters veteran Steve 'Paxo' Paxton making his Refills debut after joining at short notice via Barty, and for Ollie Sandell for stepping up from the 3's to help out and get a taste of Refills action.
To cut a long story short, 1-0 up after 5 minutes through Merlin Smethurst.. A missed shot at a St Albans penalty corner deceiving the makeshift defence and the ball falling to a forward at the back post for the equaliser. A green card for Paxo with a yellow for a St Albans player before we got to 1-1 at half time. George Lock then saw yellow for kicking the ball away, causing a bit of a momentum shift to St Albans with the Refills ending up 3-2 down with 15 minutes to go after a Sam Armitage drag flick had got us back to 2-2. George Lock saw green again for a break down tackle outside of the 23 but came back onto the pitch just in time to see Angus Haigh wiped out in the D for a clear penalty stroke, which the umpire saw as a 16-yard hit out for the defence. George scored the equaliser from a penalty stroke a few minutes later after another Sam Armitage drag flick, this time striking a defender on the line to prevent a goal.
The game finished 3-3 and given the circumstances and with the number of changes in the team, we'll take that as it could have so easily been a long way to go to lose. The new recruits played their part and did well
The Refills sit 2nd on goal difference at the mid season break but there is still some distance to go , with only 2 points separating the top 5 teams.