Hockey: Oxford flourish before falling

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Hockey Association XI. .1

Oxford University. . . .0

OXFORD UNIVERSITY, whose splendid pre-Christmas form had deserted them a little since the break, returned to something like their old selves against a very strong Hockey Association XI at Milton Keynes yesterday.

In a skilful game in which Oxford were called upon to defend for long periods, the Australian Andy Minson, last year's captain, and the goalkeeper, Tim Wigmore, were outstanding. Oxford's midfield trio of Stefen Griffiths, earlier this week named in the England squad for the Indira Gandhi tournament in Bombay, New Zealander Grant Edwards and Mark Hoskin, battled hard and successfully to take control of the game.

It was, however, up front where the students lost out, badly missing the services of Wayne Graham, the newly appointed South African captain, who has returned home in preparation for his country's African Cup games next month and is also likely to miss out on the Varsity match.

The game started with strong HA pressure leading to a couple of early penalty corners with Wigmore saving well from Teddington's Phil McGuire. At their third corner McGuire switched the ball to Bobby Crutchley who, with Oxford possibly distracted by a whistle from an adjacent pitch, had time to place his shot just inside the post.

Bruce Ellison and Adam Laird had half-chances on the break before the interval but it was the HA who wasted a number of opportunities to increase their lead. Oxford's best chance fell to Ellison, 17 minutes into the second half. Collecting a through-ball from Jason Ralph, Ellison outwitted the goalkeeper, Jason Barrow, only to be robbed on the goal-line of a certain goal by Crutchley.

HOCKEY ASSOCIATION: J Barrow (Hounslow); A Humphrey (Welton), R Crutchley (capt; Hounslow); J Chana (Cannock), D Main (Welton), A Degun (Barford Tigers); M Cross (Havant), A Philpot (Old Loughtonians), D Betts (Harborne), J Pidcock (Cannock), P McGuire (Teddington). Substitute used: K Murphy (Bournville).

OXFORD UNIVERSITY: T Wigmore (Christchurch); A Minson (Balliol); S Liddle (Worcester), P Bell (Lincoln); R Markham (Mansfield), M Hoskin (Keble), S Griffiths (University), G Edwards (capt; Lincoln); A Laird (Brasenose), J Ralph (Brasenose), R McDowd (St Bennets). Substitutes used: B Ellison (Keble) and M Meredith (Pembroke).

Umpires: I Bryan (WCHUA) & B Singh (MCHUA).

Other match: Army 2 Travellers 3.