A tough run of fixtures coinciding with absences through work and illness has meant that the Horseshoes have recently dropped points for the first time this season.
Paul Willets has ably stepped in to the fray and made some great saves playing in goal throughout November but with a rotating roster of defenders in front of him the defence hasn’t been as solid as in the opening months of the season.
Having only gained four points from a possible nine and struggling to regain form since losing to the league leaders, the Horseshoes needed to pick themselves up for a potential banana skin of a game against the experienced Barbarians. The team delivered emphatically, dominating the game from start to finish to win 7-2 in the division one tie.
The attack led by Chris Meadows and ably supported by the midfield tormented the Barbarian defence to the point that the opposition keeper and defence nearly came to blows with each. The situation was thankfully calmed down by the referee so that no marching orders were needed
With title rivals also dropping points this means that the Horseshoes enter the New Year only three points behind the top division’s leaders.
Rutland have so far scored 40 goals in nine games but the defence will need to regain its ruthless edge if they are to maintain their title challenge.
l In Division Two the Rutland Oaks enjoyed a 3-1 win over Phoenix.
Like the Horseshoes the Oaks lost their first game of the season in the last week of November. The small size of the Rutland club’s playing squad came back to haunt them as a number of Oaks players stepped up to support the Horseshoes. This left the Second Division side undermanned for a key fixture against the league leaders Forest Wanderers. With only nine players the Oaks played out of their skins but couldn’t hold out against overwhelming numbers eventually losing the game 4-1.
The Oaks needed to put this defeat behind them and to focus on a tough game against Phoenix, a side with a solid core who can beat most teams on their day. The game started scrappily but Warren Ginn stepped up and with two moments of class before half time, hitting two magnificent strikes to give Rutland a lead they deserved.
The Oaks came out to the second half full of confidence and played with a level of skill and accuracy that would not be out of place in the top division.
Fine interlinking play between midfield and attack created chance after chance as Pheonix fell apart. A fine run from the halfway line from Charlie Hamnet was a true moment of class, he beat five players with a series of swerves and pirouettes only to agonisingly roll the ball past the keeper and skim the outside of the post. Despite the pressure only one more goal was added by the Oaks.
The Pheonix keeper with five minutes to go had a moment of madness leaving his area to kick away a ball as centre forward Ryan sped through on goal. The keeper was fortunate to stay on the pitch and the resulting short corner came to nothing.
As the game entered its final minute centre back Ben Chisholm substituted himself only to see Pheonix grab a late consolation goal,
The result means that heading towards the New Year the Oaks are second in the league behind Forest Wanderers only on goal difference.
l With 2014 coming to an end the club wished to thank secretary Tracey Taylor, captain Phil Ash and chairman Ben Chisholm for making sure the club runs so smoothly each week and is such fun place to play hockey.
Rutland Mixed Hockey Club fields two teams in the local competitive mixed league set up. Training is at Oakham School on Kilburn Road on Tuesday 8pm to 9pm.
If you are interested in a practice or a game all are welcome. For more details contact Tracey Taylor on 07861967430.