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HOCKEY: Difficult test for Oxton ends in defeat
ON Sunday, Oxton Hockey Club's Mixed XI travelled to Olton & West Warkwickshire in the quarter finals of the National Mixed Trophy, a game which was always going to be a difficult test as Olton's men play in National League North and their women play in the top league in the country.
The home side enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages, but Oxton defended resolutely, Jed Dunbar, Beccy Davis, Pete Hanbury and Becky Read repeatedly putting in excellent tackles to keep Olton at bay, while goalkeeper Olly Green made some great saves.
The Midlanders' best opportunities arose via penalty corners, and they took the lead from one of these through a drag flick.
Gradually Oxton forced themselves into the game on the basis of this defence, hitting Olton on the counter attack - following one such attack, Lucy Earlam’s shot was stopped on the line by a defender’s foot, which immediately led to the award of a penalty flick. Ali Parkes calmly slotted it into the net to make the score 1-1 at halftime.
The second half was an end to end game, Oxton now posing a more constant threat, but Olton always dangerous from their short corners, and they re-established a lead with a powerful drag-flick to the bottom corner.
Oxton fought back with Ben Russell, Ali Mealor and Callum McDougall's trickery in midfield causing gaps to open up in Olton’s defence; the forwards exploited this and Liz Farren expertly volleyed Oxton back to 2-2.
Predictably, Olton took advantage of another well worked penalty corner to go 3-2 up, but Oxton immediately equalised when Dave Bailey hammered home a shot to make it 3-3.
With Olton rattled, Oxton sensed their chance had come, enjoying a sustained period of pressure including a series of penalty corners, Parkes hitting a post with one, but the vital goal didn't come.
Having survived this spell, Olton scored a fourth penalty corner, and then won a contentious penalty flick at the death, which was converted to make the final score Olton 5 - Oxton 3.