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The Isle of Wight field hockey season got underway at the weekend with both the men’s and women’s teams in action.

IOW Men’s 1st XI vs Romsey 1 (1-4) (Home) 

The Isle of Wight Men’s 1st XI started the season with a much-changed, youthful and exciting team – the average player age has decreased by about 10 years since last season. With this has come energy, motivation and exciting talent, mixed with some steep learning curves.

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The game began at a very high speed as Romsey were keen to stamp their mark on what they saw as a winnable game. Attacks were repelled and counter attacks at times looked very positive. Romsey did manage to score a couple of goals but the island were unfortunate to have one of their own disallowed after a very skillful deflection into the net by Breach.

In the second half a goal was pulled back when, following a short corner, debutant Turney smashed a bouncing ball first time with a drive straight out of the cricket manual and into the top corner! Hopefully the first of many for a very promising forward. Not to be outdone, the youth in the side demonstrated some great skill and interplay. B Woodford, Wright, Arnold, Edmunds-Lamb, Breach and Turjanicová were at times unplayable, and one final pass away from getting the goals they deserved.

The squad tired toward the end of the game and injuries put players in unfamiliar positions resulting in a two more goals for Romsey. 4-1 flattered the opposition but it did not take away from the buzz and excitement about the rest of the season if the right mix of experience and youth can be found.

IOW Men’s 2nd XI vs Bournemouth 5 (2-7) (Away) 

After promotion last year the Men’s 2nd team headed into the unknown and off to Bournemouth for their first outing in this league. With a set of new faces into the team this year it was always going to be a little hard going to begin with whilst the team gets to know each other, with full season debuts for Toby Noyes, Will Bevan and Charlie Randerson, however the side was in good spirits as they headed across the Solent. Arriving a little tight for the start time the opposition were happy enough to allow a delayed start thanks to no teams playing afterwards.

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Bournemouth started the strongest and immediately began putting pressure on the Island defence and it wasn’t too long before the team found themselves a goal down. The team were a little rocked by this and were unable to even steady themselves before the opposition lead was doubled. At this point the team rallied and began to impose themselves on the match. In one move veteran attacker John Kirby found captain Mike Dodds who strode into the D and fired a shot into the top left corner of the net to reduce the deficit. A few minutes later the same two players combined and an almost identical goal was score, but unfortunately this time the shot went past the post by the narrowest of margins when it looked certain to go in.

Unfortunately, Bournemouth scored with their next attack to go 3-1 up and with the wind knocked out of the sails the Island conceded again. The island did have a number of very strong chances but were unable to convert meaning they went into the half time break 4-1 down but with lots of positives.

The second half started well for the Island, they continued to forge chances but either were saved, were wide or the final pass was found wanting when in a good position and it was to be the story of the match for the team. The defence of Archie Clark, Pete McKnight, Steve McKnight and Toby were holding strong with Wightlink Man of the Match Sam Bridges marking his senior debut in goal with a string of outstanding saves until a mix up got Bournemouth’s 5th after an unlucky ricochet from an Island foot ended up in the back of the net for an own goal. The island did then manage to get a second goal after the prolific Tom Young found the ball falling to him a few yards out and he reverse flicked the ball into the net.

The team pushed hard for the goals their effort deserved but it was Bournemouth who had the final say with a couple of goals before the final whistle. Despite the disappointing 2-7 scoreline the team knows they can play better, and had they took some of the numerous chances things could have been a lot different  and so they will head back home for next weeks match against United Services of Portsmouth with their heads held up.

Women’s 1st XI vs Eastleigh (2-1) (Away) 

The Ladies 1s first league game of the season was an away trip to Eastleigh. Feeling optimistic following a good couple of weeks training the squad was looking forward to getting the season started.

The First half got underway and it was Eastleigh that found themselves on the back foot. With the addition of Gabrielle (making her debut) to the midfield alongside Saffron, Georgia Nicky and Jaimie the wave of attacks were frequent. It was from one of these that a short corner as won. A change of routine at the top saw the ball injected from George to the top of the D for Caddick to stop and Jaimie to slip left. Saff found herself with enough time and space to slap a low ball across the D and into the bottom corner. Eastleigh managed to get an equaliser before half time when a save made by Mackenzie fell to the Eastleigh striker.

The second half saw some exceptional play from the defence right the way through to the forwards. The winning goal came again from a short corner and this time a straight strike from Jai (that was going way wide!) was deflected by Kirsty whose effort was also going wide until it caught the defenders foot and nestled in the back of the net.

A great team performance and a promising start to the season.

Women’s 2nd XI vs Fleet and Ewshot 2 (2-6) (Home) 

First game for the Ladies 2s was always going to be a tough one against Fleet and Ewshot.

With a new look team the Island started well and matched F&E at the start. The Island we’re unlucky to go one down when a short corner strike deflected off a home foot and looped over everybody to land in the back of the goal! Undeterred the Island kept up the pressure and got the equaliser from Emmy Breach who calmly slotted home a penalty stroke awarded when the F&E defender threw her stick at the ball to stop Emmy’s certain goal.

The visitors took back the lead near the end of the half with another looped deflection which came off who knows stick!! 2-1 at half time. Unfortunately the second half went a bit downhill with tiredness creeping in F&E found the net another 4 times. The Island did get another, again from Emmy, again from a stroke! After being totally upended by the keeper who made no attempt to play the ball she once again popped it in the bottom corner! A good game of hockey and despite the scoreline the girls done good. MOM to Emmy Breach.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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