Sevenoaks 2nd XI continued their perfect start to the season this week with a hard fought win over a dogged Canterbury side at Fortress Hollybush. A result that leaves them in sole possession of top spot in this most challenging of leagues.
To watch the game for the first 20 minutes though, one would assume that Sevenoaks had all just woken up from a lengthy nap Lethargic to the extreme, Oaks made a series of basic errors, conceding position and impetus to a determined opposition. That the visitors opened the scoring was no surprise and a second goal surely followed. Oaks were staring down the abyss.
Fortunately, this 2019/2020 team is a rich vintage and made of British (and South African) steel of a quality to match that of Sheffield’s finest. It was fitting therefore that bald ginger veteran David Smith, late for a date in Corby, was at the heart of a fight back. He was able assisted by Connor Poulain, Jacob Gold and Matthew Tozzi as Oaks began to find some midfield dominance. With five minutes to go before half time, Oaks scored as Ron Thompson (nee Taylor) abandoned his usual tactic of mishitting the ball wide of the goal and to the shock of the team and the crowd finished messily after a piece of skill from Lance Corporal (Royal Marines) Ben Martin.
On the stroke of half time, Tom Graham had a chance to add another but a Canterbury defender kicked the goal bound strike with Oaks mysteriously awarded a short rather than a stroke. Despite the team feeling severely aggrieved, Coach Thomas stepped up to loop one of his deceptively slow drag flicks at the goal. To the delight of the team, he roofed it giving Oaks parity at halftime.
During the break, skipper Adam Tozzi provided a team talk comparable (in his own mind) to that of De Niro in Any Given Sunday.
Notwithstanding, the Oaks that emerged from the interval was a changed team. Rock solid at the back with Joseph Neighbour showing all his skills in goal and aged centre back Chris Smith defying the years with a rugged, tenacious display. Sam Ashenden was everywhere except the tasteful tattoo convention and Matthew Wilson always threatening (sometimes even the goal). The change in attitude was quickly rewarded as Ron Taylor popped up with a short corner finish and an outstanding solo run from Marine Martin was finished neatly by Tommy Graham. And that was the ball game.
A composed Oaks saw out the remainder of the half in a display that spectator Tim Warrington described as “total hockey”. A battle-hardened team move on to a dust-up with Epsom 1st XI next week.
Report by Adam Tozzi