Oxton men’s first team finished for the Christmas break with a morale boosting victory over Sheffield Hallam in dramatic circumstances.
The home side started the game brightly and moved the ball round with confidence however clear cut chances were somewhat limited. On 20 minutes though the deadlock was broken as Alistair McKenzie converted a penalty corner. Oxton continued to press and just two minutes later skipper Neil Worrall doubled the lead with a neat finish. Sheffield were switching play well but were met by tireless workrate from the midfield and particularly through Jonathan Hodgkinson and Joe Hillyer. With the half time whistle approaching Hillyer earned a short corner and a golden opportunity to further extend the lead. At the second attempt Frankie Clavaud injected, Russell Hornby stopped and Hillyer clinically dispatched low into the bottom corner to the delight of the home crowd. The umpire however incorrectly claimed that the ball hadn’t gone outside the D and the goal was disallowed. The half time whistle went shortly after much to Oxtons players frustrations.
Into the second half and Sheffield started brightly getting into some good positions and putting in dangerous crosses. Keeper Olly Green was vocal in marshalling his defence and the home side looked dangerous on the break. The best opportunity came when debutant Sam North fed Worrall on the half way line who turned his man well and drove all the way to the d before seeing the keeper make a good save from his shot. The game was drifting into the final ten minutes and what looked like a comfortable home victory. Two nil is a dangerous lead in hockey though and with just nine minutes left Sheffield broke and pulled one back with Adam Price applying the finish from close range. Oxtons legs started to look heavy and the visitors sensed they could get something out of the game. Barely a minute later the scores were level as Andrew Blood netted at the back post. The game became frantic with both sides desperately searching for a crucial winner. As the clock ticked down to the final minute North again found Worrall who was on the receiving end of a very robust challenge as he entered the visitors 25. Short corner. McKenzie was out of the picture having picked up an injury minutes earlier. Hornby pushed towards goal and Hillyer’s attempted deflection found its way to Hodgkinson who applied a brilliantly composed finish from close range to restore the lead. There was still time for Sheffield to create one final attack however Nikolas Heyes picked up a loose ball in the D and drove to safety as the umpire blew the final whistle. Every player worked incredibly hard and showed great mental strength to record a thoroughly deserved and vital victory in the most exciting of circumstances.