Having suffered a 6-0 defeat at home, the mighty 7's were facing an uphill struggle away at Bicester 4s this afternoon. With a few of the 7 faithful absent (without leave), we were grateful for some support from our brother team, the 6s. We were in feisty mode, adrenaline pumped and keen to get at the opposition. No better example of this that the Jon Newman shot on goal during warm-up that cleared the 20 foot high fence - another ball lost and DOTD nomination.
In his inaugural role as deputy, temporary, acting, shadow Captain, Andy Staig set out the starting line-up and team strategy - all out attack with a roving midfield full of young legs expected to support the attack, but be back in defence as soon as the opposition took the ball. You could tell that the team was ready for action and suitably pumped up.
With Jay Churchill and Jon Newman in attack, we pushed back and it soon became clear that we had a chance for an upset. The opening 5 in midfield, (Wes Churchill, Simon Combstock, Rich Pegram, Ben Van De Waal and Carel Van De Waal ) dominated the middle of the field and we were pushing forward and probing their defence with great aplomb.
The pressure mounted and we were rewarded by a (goal of the season candidate) cross court strike from Jon Newman that hit the backboard with a loud thud. This was a game changer and even the Bicester goalie needed to reset his kit, such was the awesome power of the shot.
A period of regrouping by Bicester put our defensive line (Dave Latimer, Geraint Thomas and Andy Staig) under pressure and despite a valiant and almost acrobatic performance from our goal-line stalwart, Tim Cowper, the opposition were able to pull back level and we were 1-1 at half time.
A rousing speech from the temporary, acting, deputy shadow captain , worthy of Winston Churchill, reminded the team that we were definitely in the game and that an upset to the natural order was possible. Practical advice was left to Geraint - clearly the captain was more of a big picture type of guy!
We won a short corner mid-way into the second half, but the less said about that the better.
Our midfield had been playing with a rolling substitution, and our super-subs Dave Ransome, David MacInnes and Jacob Cowper were proving a difficult proposition for the Bicester side. I mentioned feisty earlier, Dave was certainly an exemplar of this and the refs agreed - enough said! Dave made a number of forays into the opposition's final quarter , was proving difficult to stop and scored a particularly good goal to take us to 2-1 .
Bicester pulled back to 2-2 with 15 minutes to play and although threatened a number of times, the defence was solid and didn't look like they were going to let anything else through.
I mentioned feisty and Dave earlier. After a particularly challenging run into their D, Dave earned his (virtually unchallenged) DOTD award for a yellow card offence! We were left with 10 men for the last 5 minutes, but despite that we continued to make attacks into their half - Jon Newman was indomitable down the right hand side, although the corner challenged him more than their defence - a learning point there maybe. When the whistle blew for full time, we had held on to draw the match.
As deputy, acting, shadow, temporary captain (now with an unbeaten record), I think that Bicester would have been surprised and a little relieved with the draw and we felt just a little bit cheated - a win had certainly been possible. A great performance and a great spirit across the team and we all had fun and kept going until the end. Many more stories and exploits from the team, too many to mention, and a close run MOTM between the defence and the eventual winner, Jon Newman.
Thanks to all - now let's show Oxford 9s what we are made of next week.
Updated 18:42 - 7 Mar 2016 by Kristin Cooper