South Berkshire Terriers wrapped up their home fixtures with a 2-2 draw with an equally youthful Oxford side, a fair result but disappointing nonetheless for the Terriers who promised much at times, but ultimately failed to deliver.
The Terriers started brightly, retaining possession and offering good movement up front to create some early chances. However, even in the early minutes it was clear that this was going to be an open game, with Oxford pushing three players high at times, and the Terriers failing to adapt to this, or make use of the potential overload at the other end.
Goal mouth chances were at a premium, and the break through for the Terriers game from a penalty corner. Robbie Campion put the ball across goal in a preplanned move, and his shot was deflected on to Dominic Harvey who calmly steered the ball in on the post for his first Terrier's goal this season. Despite taking the lead, the Terriers continued to give Oxford to much time and space to break, and they were caught out ten minutes later as Oxford struck, with a 5 vs 3 in the box leading to the ball being worked around Marcus Bown and into the Terriers goal.
All square at half time, and it would take another penalty corner for the Terriers to take the lead, as Robbie Campion maintained his 80% success rate from corners to bag the Terriers their second. Again however, they were unable to retain the lead. The open game at times encouraged both sides to play somewhat fast and loose, and the Terriers will hopefully learn from this match the importance of retaining possession to protect a lead. With 20mins left, they conceded again as Oxford drew level in similar circumstances to the first, as Oxford pushed players forward and the Terriers failed to pick up their movement in the D, resulting in a relatively easy tap.
The Terriers continued to press, with Rik Temmink making a number of threatening runs into the D, whilst Dominic Harvey was unlucky to drag one shot inches wide. However, it was Oxford who ultimately came closest to a winner in the final minutes, as they stole into the D and briefly threatened a one on one with keeper Marcus Bown. With a "last line of defence" tackle, Paul Harvey was able to work back and as he threw himself forward, was able to hook the ball away on his reverse and clear the danger.
2-2 in the end, a fair result based on the ebb and flow of the game, but also a performance for the Terriers to learn from, in particular the need to retain possession through more patient hockey, and ensure defensively that the team defend narrow and attack wide, rather than getting caught too flat in defence. On to Bicester next week, for a critical fixture if the Terriers want to keep alive the chance to snatch 2nd place in the league.