Familiar faces from last season awaited Oundle in Saturday’s home league fixture. With the visitors being a strong Mansfield side who have won 2 of their 3 fixtures so far this season. Oundle were able to do the double over the opponents last season, with this fixture producing a 3-1 win for the hosts last year.
Oundle, for the second time in as many weeks, were able to boast of a selection of 18 available players of which to pick their squad from. One notable absence however included utility man John ‘JB’ Brown who has been sent to France by the club on a scouting mission expected to last about 3 weeks. However Oundle did have the return of Jonathan ‘Goal a Game’ Dalley bolstering the attack. Tristan ‘Former Skip’ Ashby played his 3rd game this season, equalling his number of appearances from his 7 years as captain.
This fixture has always provided a good test for Oundle and today was no different. A Mansfield pushback started the game and they came forward immediately putting Oundle under pressure. Early warning signs came with Mansfield trying to play the ball forward quickly however many passes were overhit or were unable to find their intended targets, Oundles organisation holding up well.
The breakthrough didn’t take long to happen though, with Mansfield breaking from deep transitioning the ball quickly forward, the Oundle defence was carved open, the ball falling to a Mansfield player in the D, scuffing his shot helping him out, with the ball looping high in the air and finding the top corner of the Oundle net.
Mansfield kept up their pressure throughout the early stages of the first half with Oundle holding firm, Mansfield were able to find themselves with further opportunities to score, winning a couple of short corners but these were well thwarted by Oundle. Mansfield did have greater success down the wings putting a number of dangerous crosses in, a small number did find their intended target were dealt with by Youngy in goal.
Any attempts Oundle had at playing hockey were quickly stopped by Mansfield, more often than not by a stick tackle which was to remain a constant theme throughout the match. As the first half wore on Oundle came into the game more and more, and created a few chances of their own. The best of these chances fell to former skipper Tristan Ashby who after some pinball in the Mansfield D, found the ball sitting up perfectly for him on the half volley. T.Ashby gleefully thundered the ball home nearly breaking the net, past the helpless diving Mansfield keeper.
The 1st half ended with both sides looking pretty even, the best of the chances again falling to T.Ashby who, after some clever play down the right wing found himself 1 on 1 with the Mansfield keeper. The latter doing well to close T.Ashby down and preventing him from becoming the outright leader for this years top gun award for the mens team.
The 2nd half started similarly to the first with Mansfield applying a lot of pressure to Oundles defence. This time however the pressure paid dividends for Mansfield who in a scene which resembled Oundles first game of the season against Derby were awarded a number of short corners in quick succession. These however amounted to nothing with Mansfield only able to fashion a half chance from one, with the ball going from the injector to the top of the D back to the injector running towards goal. The deflection from the injector being saved by the back leg pad of Youngy, the save causing Captain Ben covering the post to take evasive action as the ball went close to his head.
It was not only short corners that the Oundle defence had to deal with, Mansfield favouring to play down the wings before crossing the ball right in front of the face of goal. These however did not have the desired effect for Mansfield as they were unable to find the man running in at the back post.
As Mansfield looked like they were beginning to tire in the 2nd half this allowed Oundle more into the game and it was the team in red who started to look like they might find the all important 2nd goal. It was difficult however with Mansfield looking to break up play with numerous stick tackles, breaking up the play and not allowing Oundle to get into any rhythm. The umpires did decide that enough was enough and awarded Mansfield the first green card of the game.
Oundle, making use of the right wing numerous times and eventually winning their first short corner of the match, this however came to naught as Mansfield defended well and cleared the danger.
With the encouragement from winning the short corner, Oundle started pushing further forward, this allowed Mansfield to break on the counter playing a defence splitting ball to their forwards. The Oundle defence ran back well to catch up to the pacy Mansfield forward. The Mansfield player however was able to run inside the D and turn his man, with a quick shot which was well aimed finding the back of the Oundle net just as the momentum was starting to swing to the team in red and black.
Mansfield continued to exploit the wings, with one aerial ball finding the Mansfield right winder who was just able to nick the ball in front of the oncoming Youngy, taking it round the Oundle keeper, with the open goal gaping and from about 3 yards out he took his shot; only to put the ball wide of the post to the disbelief of everyone. This provoked a heated exchange between the Mansfield winger and Oundle goalie, with Youngy highly amused at the miss.
Late on in the 2nd half Oundle looked more like themselves as they searched for the equaliser, with some good build up play at times, Mansfield dropping deeper to protect their slender advantage. The final ball however just wouldn’t sit for Oundle who were unlucky in some instances not to find the strikers.
The game finished with a 2-1 home defeat, something that doesn’t happen often at Pavillion Drive. Oundle go again next week, with a tough match away against promotion hopefuls Nottingham Trent University 2s. HWTL.