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Old Stoics Kick Off 2017 With a Draw

10 January 2017

The Old Stoic Football Team opened their 2017 calendar year with a draw against Old Wykehamists but the result very much felt like two points dropped rather than a point gained thanks to some wasteful finishing.

Tolly Leech skippered the side in the absence of both James Robson and Alex Jollivet and the willingness of players to shift their festive excess resulted in a full squad of 13 assembling at Chiswick. 

Playing with the slight slope to their advantage in the first half, the Old Stoics were quickly into their stride and posing problems for the away side. Hamish Eggins and Nyan Patel were enjoying a burgeoning relationship on the right flank and a series of neat one-twos left the opposition left back groping at fresh air on numerous occasions and gave him a pretty torrid first half. This resulted in a series of corners for the Old Stoics and with Leech whipping in numerous promising looking balls it surely would be a matter of time before the men in yellow and blue scored. But Wykehamists somehow kept the scoresheet clean with Ben Hirst having a header cleared off the line, Eggins hitting the post from a tight angle and Harry W-G also clipping the framework with an intended cross. Leech and new boy Ben up top also had a few chances but failed to test the keeper. 

As is often the way, Stoics were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal and found themselves behind. Rowling looked to have put in a late audition for Strictly Come Dancing with a two-step routine with the ball, sadly he failed to make the next round and also failed to make contact with the ball with either his right or left foot and gifted the Wykehamist striker a clear run at goal and slide the ball past Mark Thompson-Royds. 

Thankfully the Stoics weren't behind for long. Harry W-G had an effort hit over the bar by Eggins that looked to be going in if he had left it alone.  But Eggins quickly atoned for this by playing a inch perfect through ball to Leech who raced onto it and slotted calmly past the keeper.

At half time the scores remained tied at 1-1 but with the Stoics no longer having the topographical advantage of the slope. As a result, the Wykehamists enjoyed more of the possession and posed more of a threat than they had in the first half. Nonetheless the Stoics were still creating plenty of chances but Leech fired over the bar on a number of occasions, Rowling decided to chance his arm from long range on a couple of rare forays forward into the opposition half and provided a couple of reminders why he is in defence rather than attack whilst on other occasions Patel, Jamie Knight and Eggins were let down with their final ball or touch when in promising positions.

MTR had very little to do in the match but sparked into life after failing to cleanly gather a shot from outside the box to react quickly to make the type of close range block that has become his trademark. Then with just a few minutes remaining in the match, Wykehamists nearly pulled off a smash and grab raid as the opposition striker managed to get onto a through ball a fraction before MTR and the ball was rolling towards goal. But Ben Hirst managed to summon one final sprint in a match that was proving to be very energy sapping and slid in to divert the ball away with it millimeters away from rolling over the goalline.  

The remaining moments ran down without any more drama with both teams having to settle for a point. Stowe's dominance of both possession and goal-scoring opportunities meant they should have been home and dry long before Hirst's goalline heroics were required to bail them out but in the end this was an enjoyable match played in a excellent spirit. Here's to more of the same in 2017 just without some basic errors from your correspondent and more sharpness in front of goal from our attackers!

Man of the match goes to someone who hasn't had a mention in the report thus far but his tireless efforts in a congested midfield, snapping away at opposition heels to give them no time, seemingly winning every header that came his way, dovetailing with Harry W-G to ensure the defence was not left short and the attackers were well supported and his ability to find time on the ball where others were forced to rush makes Jamie Hirst Saturday's award winner.