RUTLAND’S men’s and ladies’ hockey teams enjoyed winning starts to the season on Saturday.
The women’s 1st XI thrashed Oundle 7-1 while the men’s side, despite fears a depleted squad would struggle, won 6-4 against Ely 2nd XI.
Coach Dave Richardson was forced to rebuild the side ahead the first league game of the season with a number of up-and-coming young players from last year’s U16s making the step up to senior hockey.
Joe Chedd, James Dodsworth, Harrison Ginn, James Meadows, Tom Wilson, James Young and Billy Mugnier joined several of last year’s U18s along with a new find Will Astbury, for the first test of the East league 3NW season, and Rutland started well at Uppingham.
The home side controlled the ball, dictating play and soon created chances to score with Astbury putting Rutland ahead.
Rutland allowed Ely’s nippy right winger to break around the back of their defence to level but from then on Rutland dominated the half.
Chedd was commanding at centre midfield, displaying a maturity beyond his years. Rutland penetrated the Ely D repeatedly with Richard Pollock breaking from fullback to deliver a beautiful reverse stick push into the corner for Rutland’s second.
Johnny Ashwin, switched to right half, had an inspired game, forcing magnificent saves from the Ely keeper but it was Astbury who doubled Rutland’s lead, sending them in 3-1 at the interval.
Rutland began the second half poorly, conceding two sloppy goals, and although they soon scored their fourth, through Ashwin, Ely capitalised on some static defending to bring the score level.
However, Rutland showed spirit and a swift break from James Dodsworth on the left led to Astbury putting Rutland back in front and he sealed the result with Rutland’s sixth as Ely tired.
Richardson said: “This was a great start from some very young players showing they can compete easily with the men.”
Rutland’s ladies were on the road for their opening game of the Cambridgeshire League Premier Division season, with a trip to Oundle.
They also featured several new faces and began brightly, picking their way through the home side’s midfield.
Oundle had a couple of canny operators at the back, and in tandem with a more than useful keeper, they kept the Rutlanders at bay for 20 minutes until Anne Pollock broke the deadlock.
Rutland’s new full-back pairing Clare England and Nicki Perry had to be alert as half time approached, and captain Katie Richardson had to be temporarily withdrawn after being hit by ball on the throat. But the Rutland goal made it through to the break unscathed.
Richardson returned at half time and Rutland immediately looked more threatening. The introduction of Nat Grundy at centre forward five minutes into the half brought about the second goal with Pollock making is three shortly after.
Oundle pegged a goal back and could have had more were it not for Vicky Salt’s sharp goalkeeping but after a short spell of pressure, Rutland re-asserted themselves.
Kim Cooil mopped things up in the centre of the field and Pollock and Dom Lammie linked up better. Charlie Gregg made more inroads and from one of her bursts on the wing Rutland were awarded a penalty stroke just as Ella Brahmachari forced the ball in the goal. Rachel Richardson tucked that into the bottom left hand corner with the minimum of fuss.
Rutland now dominated. Polly Hirst bagged a quick brace on her debut and Brahmachari was finally rewarded with the goal that her performance merited.
The Ladies 2nd X1 discovered how much of a step up the challenge would be after last year’s promotion with a 5-1 defeat at St Ives.
Rutland’s men play Cambridge 2nds away on Saturday while the ladies host Cambridge South at Uppingham. The ladies’ 2nd XI are at home to Cambridge Nomads 2nds.
Rutland Ladies: Vicky Salt (GK), Clare England, Nicola Perry, Katie Richardson (c), Kim Cooil, Rachel Richardson, Anne Pollock, Dom Lammie, Ella Brahmachari, Nat Grundy, Charlie Gregg, Polly Hirst.