Oundle were back on the road to face todays opponents who had the misfortune to suffer relegation from the league above last season. Both sides were eager to build on their wins last week. Loughborough overcoming newly promoted Melton 2s 3-0 away from home while Oundle saw off Beeston 6-1.
Oundle were buoyed with a strong selection of 18 players available for this match, unheard of in recent years. As we would see during the game this squad depth was instrumental in keeping the energy levels up today. This included the much anticipated return of former vice captain Pete ‘I like Tractors’ Allett who decided that he wished to play today. With no previous meetings between the two sides and only one result from Loughborough Town 3s to go on, Oundle were unsure what to expect from the team that lined up against them.
With the pre-match team talks having taken place and an inspiring shout of ‘Oundle’ the match started with a Loughborough push back. The early stages of the game were not dominated by either team. Loughborough did have a couple of promising attacks, but these fizzled out almost as quickly as they started. Some excellent tackling and sloppy passing contributing to this.
Oundle quickly managed to establish a foothold in the game with the defensive shape holding firm not giving anything away. Oundle started to mount some offensive of their own, with the tried and trusted aerial from the centre back partnership of Captain Edis and Vice Captain Millan. Despite Loughborough’s best efforts they were more often than not unable to stop the aerial balls from finding their intended targets.
This tactic, so long used by Oundle, started to bear fruit with multiple shots on goal from the team in black and white. The best of these falling to current top gun George Martin who was through 1 on 1 with the Loughborough Town keeper, doing his trademark of shifting the ball onto his reverse and aiming high George looked to have scored, sending the keeper down early. Unfortunately for Oundle it was not to be, the Loughborough goalie managing to hold himself just long enough to stick out his left arm to make the save. The Loughborough keeper was in inspired form, being alert and managing to snuff out any danger quickly.
The breakthrough however came from Loughborough, breaking down Oundles right hand side. The Loughborough winger with a reverse hit at head height across the face of Oundles goal. Looks were thrown at the umpire whose demeanour suggested ‘nothing doing’. Despite a couple of the defenders having to take emergency evasive action throwing themselves away from the hurtling projectile. It was Loughborough who were quickest to react the opposite winger picking the ball up at the side line and quickly ran to the base line, putting a cross, along the floor this time into the D. Youngys attempted clearance was unfortunately aimed straight at Phil R, catching his foot as he attempted to get out the way. This deflected the ball straight to one of the Loughborough forwards who found himself with some time to coolly slot into the near post giving Loughborough Town the lead.
As it turned out, despite the amazing facilities at Loughborough University, VAR had not yet been installed on the pitch where Oundle were playing.
Half time was blown shortly after with Oundle disappointed to be behind at the break. The half time team talks came from Coach Ellis and Captain Edis. The message was clear, Oundle were punished for switching off at the wrong moment and not playing to the whistle. But strangely for an Ellis team talk, there was a message of hope, Oundle had arguably been the better side up until the goal, and that this game was there for the taking.
The second half started with Oundle on the front foot. Coach and Captains words having a visible effect on the team. Oundle started to press much higher up, turning the ball over in the Loughborough half of the pitch. Loughborough were unable to cope with this rejuvenated Oundle side with an increasing number of passes going astray.
It was not long before Oundle got their rewards for their high press and persistence, with a number of short corners being awarded. The first couple being strikes from Martin, forcing the Loughborough keeper into very good saves to keep his side in the lead. As the saying goes however, 3rd time lucky, and on Oundles 3rd short corner, Vice Captain Millan pulled rank and demanded an injection to his castle. P.Wilson (Phil) obliged and after an expert stop Millans drag flick was inch perfect into the right corner. As Millan was about to turn around and celebrate, a split second before the ball crossed the line, Tristan came steaming in, getting the faintest touch ‘Just to make sure’.
Oundle however were unable to find a second breakthrough with Loughborough’s keeper continuing his heroics in goal. Oundle having numerous chances, their high work rate coupled with some excellent passing and running causing mayhem for Loughborough. Loughborough in return only managed one attack of note in the entire 2nd half. Playing a hopeful ball forward finding one of their forwards, his heavy touch was deflected straight into the path of Young who managed to clear the ball, under pressure from the Loughborough forward.
Unable to cope with Oundles superb passing, Loughborough turned to physicality, most notably Rich C and P.Wilson (Pete/Willow) being in the wars, the latter taking a hockey stick to the face. The culprit was the same and appeared he thought he was trying out for the WWE.
Oundle did have a couple of scares late on in the second half, the first coming from Captain Edis who seemed to have picked up a knock or wanted a rest. The other centre back, Vice Captain Millan either forgot he was playing hockey, or also wanted a rest, received a green card for a deliberate foot while breaking up a Loughborough counter attack. This must have been playing on his mind as he later left his stick bag in the changing room.
Loughborough Town were unable to take advantage of their extra player and the game finished 1-1, Oundle coming away disappointed of what, on another day could have been a big scoreline. However a point on the road is nothing to be sniffed at and todays opponents will have to make the daunting trip to the fortress that is pavilion drive.
Oundle go again next Saturday with a home fixture against the familiar opposition of Mansfield 1s. HWTL.