Today’s match signalled the start of a tough period for Oundle with 3 away games in a row. The first of these being against Nottingham Trent University 2s, a team who, it would be fair to say, walked the league below last year, undefeated and with a goal difference of +162. NTU2 (Nottingham Trent University 2s) have carried on this form into the new season with 26 goals scored and only 1 conceded from their 3 games so far, sitting comfortably in 2nd place in the table with a game in hand on the current league leaders.
Despite there being no previous meeting between the two sides, Oundle knew they were in for a tough match. Notable absences for Oundle this week included Dan (Old) Phillips and Richie Cunningham, the mackem mover. Captain Ben Edis was also absent today, continuing the long standing tradition of Oundle Captains not playing matches. This meant that Vice captain Adrian ‘Please mention me in your match report Youngy’ Milan took the arm band for today.
With the strength of today’s opponents, Oundle opted for a half court press, being compact and letting the opposition attempt to break them down. This worked well in the early stages of the first half. With Oundle not giving NTU2s players any room to breathe, and while Oundle were hard pressed to keep the work rate up, that is what they did even fashioning a chance of their own with a shot from ‘Goal a Game’ Dalley, firing to the keepers near post which had to be dealt with.
Oundle really took to exploiting the wings throughout the game with T.Ashby down the left and P.Wilson (Pete) down the right who both had some success with aerials being sprayed from Captain for the day Adrian Millan. However it was, strangely for Oundle the left which saw the most action, with T.Ashby struggling with the weight of the opposition player who was tucked away in his back pocket.
It was midway through the first half when the inevitable breakthrough came however after a scramble in the box, and the ball luckily falling to the NTU2 player who hit a scuffed reverse through a crowd of players into the top corner of the Oundle goal. Buoyed by their success, NTU2s turned up the pressure winning their first short corner of the match. The resulting drag flick was well saved by the knee of left postman Brandon ‘Fashionably Late’ Ingle. Despite going the right way the penalty flick was too far in the corner for Youngy, resulting in the hosts taking a 2-0 lead.
Oundle might have thought that the flood gates would open when NTU2s got their 3rd before the half time break when another short corner resulted in another goalmouth scramble, resulting in the ball falling to an NTU2 player who pushed home from close range. Thankfully shortly after this the half time whistle went. Despite being 3-0 down it was a solid half from Oundle who had frustrated the opposition for large parts of the first half.
With the coach’s words about winning the 2nd half still ringing in their ears, Oundle took the field for the 2nd half. The second half started with a NTU2 pushback, John ‘Flying Rhino’ Pickstone appeared to have trouble tying his laces, deciding that the best place to do so was in the middle of the park just before pushback. Despite just having around 10 minutes at half time to do so. Thankfully Pickstones struggles were spotted by the umpire shortly after the start so the game was brought back and restarted after Pickstone had remembered how to tie a knot.
Straight from the whistle NTU2 were on the attack, they had obviously sent scouts to watch Oundles previous matches, as Oundle became the recipient of their own tactic of an aerial ball forward from pushback! Oundle, not used to defending their own tactics, gave away a short corner, the resulting drag flick took a touch of Youngy in goal and onto Brandon Ingle who was deemed to have used his leg to have stopped the ball from going in. NTU2’s second penalty flick of the game went the way of the first, in both direction and result.
NTU2s fifth goal came not long after with another drag flick to the left of Youngy in goal. NTU2s smelt blood and wanted more, however Oundle stuck to their work and matched the opposition every step of the way. Everyone worked hard, making life difficult for NTU2s. This included a goal line clearance by young full back Brandon Ingle. It was only towards the end of the game as Oundle began to tire that NTU2s were able to score their final two goals, via a short corner strike and a deflection from open play.
Despite a 2nd half which was mostly spent absorbing pressure from the NTU2 attack Oundle were able to build a couple of attacks of their own and even won a short corner of their own. This however did not go to plan with an Oundle stick called from encroachment meaning that the corner had to be retaken and P.Wilson (Phil) was banished to the halfway line. This left J.Pickstone to inject. Oundle lined up with their standard two castle tactic, the target being last seasons, and currently this seasons top goalscorer George ‘Phillips’ Martin. The resulting shot went a whisker wide from the left hand post and had the opposition keeper scrambling.
A 7-0 loss was hard to swallow as Oundle had given everything on the pitch, but it was the worst result so far this season for NTU2s which is something to take away from the game. After the weekend’s results Oundle now sit 1 place above the drop zone with a 2nd trip to Nottingham coming up with another away match, this time to Nottingham 1s. We go again next week. HWTL.