Saturday 25th February 2011
Despite letting a 2 goal lead slip for the second time this season against the unbeaten league leaders, Refills became the first team to take points off OL with a hard fought 2-2 draw: but this more a case of 2 points dropped than 1 point saved.
Refills started with their customary pace but looked out of sorts as their passing accuracy and ball speed was not as clinical as it has been – either they were misplaced, not hit with power (or too much) and these were easily picked off by the Visitors. There were few chances at either end as the defenses as midfield tended to dominate the play but the Refills took the lead with a crisp short corner strike from goal machine Matt Cooke shortly before the break to leave all still to play for in the second half.
10 minutes into the second period Refill’s lead was doubled following a mesmeric piece of skill from Ciaran Codling as he slotted home from short range and that set the game up nicely. OL responded by pushing up their very influential Centre back into their mid-field and he at least for a while dictated play with the Refills working hard to keep in the game. OL pulled one back when the home defense failed to clear and shortly afterwards leveled the score from a short corner.
Then, arguably we saw the most audacious and intricate piece of creativity seen all season when Amaraj Flora was caught deep in the Refills left hand corner faced by 2 OL attackers with nowhere to go. It was as if the whole world stopped and everything went into slow motion as he twice pirouetted with all the grace of a Royal Ballet lead past the bemused attackers to clear and launch another Refills attack.
OL then made a mistake – in an attempt to keep their 100% record they pushed their midfield centre back into the forward line and although he always looked dangerous he was starved of possession and thence the passes he was so successfully making from mid-field. Things were definitely getting a bit nervy but Refills managed to play out the game to share the spoils.
Refills lie third after all the results of the weekend and with 3 games left they are well placed to make the play offs; probably needing 6 points off the 9 on offer to make their place secure. Wimbledon in second place and with a game in hand have to play OL and Refills twice which will be a test of their resilience. Also fourth placed Spencer 4th XI could fall victim to St Albans Senators easier run-in. All to play for…………………!!
Saturday 19th February 2011
As matches go this was right up there with the best of them as Refills travelled away to share the spoils of a six goal thriller against St Albans. Both sides were well matched – St Albans clearly a seasoned side that knew what they were doing and prepared to be patient against a Refills side with plenty of pace and skill.
The first half was just about shaded by the home team in terms of chances with the Refills clearly out of sorts – passes were going astray and there was little movement which has been their trademark all season. The defence, ably marshalled by Generalissimo Ian Ashby, just about held firm and were well supported by a number of timely saves from Johnnie Ashby in goal.
Clearly skipper Swerling’s half time talk had its desired effect as Refills moved up several gears and began playing their passing game yet they fell behind to the jamiest goal seen for a long time. St Albans hopefully smashed the ball towards the Refills D from the half way line and the defence let it pass thinking it going out but failed to notice a sole nomadic Senator stealing in behind ‘keeper’ Ashby to snick in from short range much to the jubilation of the home side.
Stung into action, the Refills response was effective and immediate – a short corner into Ali Fraser to strike in for his very timely first goal of the season to level the scores. Moments later a 20 metre laser pass from Tom Falconer into the Senator’s D found the end of Adam Langford’s stick and he duly converted to give Refills the lead.
That should have been it but St Albans struck back to level the score when the Refills failed to clear and pulses were set racing as the home side took a 3-2 leads moments after the Umpires had signalled 2 minutes to go. Having come this far Refills were not going to roll over that easily and stormed into the attack and with just seconds remaining were awarded a penalty flick. Up stepped Ekham Bachu cool as you like and placed the ball wide to the ‘keeper’s left to level the scores.
A fair result – probably, but nevertheless a great game of hockey and with the weekend’s results leaving the Refills in third place, the next match at home against the unbeaten leaders, Old Loughtonians Foresters, is likely to be another highly competitive affair. Having seen the resilience of this team and their performance in the U18 competition, the result next weekend is not a foregone conclusion by any means.
Saturday 28th January 2011
A well placed short corner flick from Amaraj Flora 10 minutes into the game was enough to give Refills the victory and extend their unbeaten run to 6 games against a belligerent PHC 2nd XI stuffed with antipodean testosterone on the new sand based pitch at Sonning Lane.
The day was freezing and the start time obscene as the Refills found it hard to get into their high tempo rhythm in what eventually proved to be a very competitive match. The Refills probably just about shaded the first half and should have at least doubled their score but they came up against and in form ‘keeper.
‘We are only playing school kids’ was the comment from the half-time PHC chat – ‘we can do them easy’ and so they tried by upping the tempo from the start of the second period and in truth they played some fine hockey with Refills doing well to keep PHC at bay. Jonnie Ashby was sin binned for 10 minutes for what can only be described to be a professional foul outside the D to thwart another PHC attack and certain goal but to their credit Refills turned up the hockey and relatively comfortably saw out the power play without conceding.
A tough game overall but Refills proved themselves no soft touch despite the over physical pressure at times and some tackling that was more appropriate to a Canadian Lumber jacking contest – they were on the back foot for most of the second half but kept their heads to earn the win.
Home whistler Jeremy Cooke had a tough old afternoon in a game that was not easy to umpire – there was consistent verbal abuse and a constant challenge of virtually all decisions and it took some personal inner strength to resist dishing out the plastic although a number of PHC players were yellow carded and both were merited.
Next week’s match away against the Divisions bottom side will not be easy with some of the Refills doubling up and many with another game of Sunday – Tulse Hill have just had their first win of the season which will give them encouragement so the focus must be on putting the game away quickly and early.