South Berkshire Terriers made it two wins in a row for the first time in the season, as they held on to an early lead to beat an equally youthful Oxford side in a late Saturday fixture.
Many of the team might have been late arriving after delays on the M40, but they wasted no time in getting up to pace in the game, as they started brightly. The first five minutes were a microcosm of the game ahead - frantic pace, end to end opportunities and (at times) a game that lacked structure but was entertaining and open. An early break saw Robbie Campion fire the ball through to Paul Harvey, who beat his man, drove into the D to take on the keeper 1 on 1, but was unceremoniously bundled over as his lined up a shot on goal. The penalty corner went unconverted, but it did set the standard for those that followed, as Ben Lambourne made a welcome return to the Terriers, and delivered the corner injections with a rapier like pace and accuracy.
The Terriers continued to press, and on ten minutes they took the lead. Pressure in the D saw an interchange between Ben and Dominic Harvey, and he sent the ball across the D where it eluded Robbie Campion but fell to Austin Jennings who slammed the ball home. It was a well deserved lead for the Terriers, and they continued their excellent start even with the early loss of David Murray to injury. With 21 minutes gone, the lead was doubled, as it was Robbie Campion who was on hand to finish off with a sharp reflex shot after an initial shot was well saved by the Oxford keeper.
A 2-0 lead at halftime was well deserved for the Terriers, and whilst it felt like more goals where there to be had, the second half settled into a much more defensive performance. Oxford were boosted with a half time change, with a forward who bore a suspicious similarity to a player from the 2s game that had taken place before the Terriers match. An identical twin perhaps, but it definitely changed the balance of the game. Whilst the Terriers were on the back foot, it was actually a stronger performance than in the first half, as they demonstrated excellent positional awareness, and whilst giving Oxford plenty of possession, they showed poise and character. Midway through the half, Oxford pulled one goal back, as their halftime introduction stole a ball on the edge of the D and played a sharp pass in for a well taken goal. However, the goal didn't deflate the Terriers, and the open game continued to throw up opportunities for both sides. Austin Jennings was ruthlessly bundled over when through 1 on 1 with the keeper, whilst Dominic Harvey was a constant menace on the left side of midfield. He played with confidence, balancing maintaining control of the ball, running without carrying into the tackle, and then choosing to unleash his stick skills in the final 23 metres. During one particular mazy run it appeared almost as if his stick had been switched for Harry Potter's wand. There was magic in the air as he beat five players before firing a low hard shot, that was well saved by the Oxford keeper. As it was, the final whistle was to follow shortly, and a well deserved 2-1 victory was confirmed for the Terriers.
Another excellent display from the Terriers, and one where the more experienced players deserve a mention for a change. Ian Wilson and Neil Badley were rocks in defence, providing a solid defensive line and coping well with a youthful and pacy opposition attack. Robbie Campion was full value for his 4th goal of the season, providing an excellent target man and giving the front line width when needed. And finally, Paul Harvey might have been the 2nd best Harvey on the pitch today, but it was an all action display, sitting in front of the defence and providing a tackling screen as Oxford began to build pressure.
The win leaves the Terriers 5th in the table, with Bicester up next at Birch Hill.