Oundle returned home for the first time in 2024 to play the undefeated league leaders, Nottingham Trent Uni 2nds (NTU2s). Oundle went into the game understanding the enormity of the task that faced them, with NTU2s winning all 15 previous of their games with a goal difference of +103 which could have been much higher if not for some walk over wins. The reverse of this fixture provided a 7-0 win for NTU2s earlier in the season.
Despite the injury to the vice captain Adrian Millan, Oundle were able to boast a strong line up with 15 players being available. Not being able to stay away, Millan had volunteered to umpire the game.
The game started as expected, with Oundle adopting a half court press and inviting pressure NTU2s, hoping to catch them on the counter attack. This worked well through the early stages of the game, with Oundle holding firm and breaking when possible, with Youngy relatively untroubled in the Oundle goal.
However as also expected, this was not to last, as NTU2s hit a speculative cross into the D, a mis-trap of the ball from Oundle meant that the NTU2 forward found himself free and was able to fire home. It had taken NTU2s a while to break through and the relief on their faces was there for all to see.
However buoyed by their first goal, NTU2s turned up the pressure, quickly adding goal no 2 after an interception. NTU2s 3rd goal came shortly after, from their first short corner, which was won after what initially looked like a very good tackle from the Oundle full back. The ball was injected to the right hand side and the shot was fired across goal, hitting the left hand side board of the Oundle goal. The next short corner produced the same result but the goal coming from a drag flick this time.
NTU2s nearly added a 5th goal before the half time whistle blew, when a hit from a long corner was deflected, finding the back of the net. Originally given as a goal, much to the fury of the Oundle players, with Youngy in particular taking particular exception to the decision. Thankfully this was chalked off by VAR and a quick char by the umpires.
The half was not without its Oundle attacks however, Oundle playing well on the counter and they could count themselves unlucky not to have won a short corner of their own when worst chat Pickstone nearly had his head taken off by the NTU2 keeper.
Half time came with Oundle 4-0 down, which could easily have been worse. With Oundle remaining solid the 2nd half started with Oundle going on the attack. Maverick No 10 Phill Wilson unlucky after seeing his shot blocked. Despite some good pressure from Oundle they were unable to find the breakthrough
Things were to go from bad to worse for Oundle though, when NTU2s won a short corner, in which Jimmy ‘Bobby’ Moore first took a hit where it hurt causing all 22 players to wince. The 2nd short corner was well deflected in by Peter Allett, who was desperate to get on the score sheet and close the gap on George Martin as leading goal scorer.
Jimmy was in the wars again when a deflection caught him in the head forcing him off for the rest of the game. He was not the last injury though with Phil R taking a painful one to the knee resulting in a NTU2 penalty flick.
The stage was set, the player selected to take the flick had played for 3 years without a goal. He faced Youngy, confident from his recent flick save. The whistle blew and a fraction of a second later the post rang out after being hit. Youngy maintaining his perfect flick record in 2024.
When it looked like NTU2s might be kept out for the rest of the game, they were able to score 2 goals late on, both from drag flicks, one going through Youngy before he was able to set himself, the 2nd just managing to squirm in at the left post.
The result mimicking the reverse fixture, Oundle won’t mind that with other results going their way and having games in hand on the teams around them, the fight for safety is in their hands.
We go again next week for a 2nd home game in a row vs Nottingham 1s which promises to be a firey affair! HWTL.