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Magnets 1 - 2 Old Loughtonians (H)

8th April 2024

By Mark Waller

South Masters Men’s O50 Premier League

Squad: Andrew, Barnicoat D, Beaney R, Dowthwaite, Foster M, Frost, Green, Hardy, Michael, Sharpe, Stone, Waller

Scorer: Dowthwaite

The final match of the season and a nervy start to the day as we knew our fate rested to some extent on the outcome of the earlier match between Spencer and Epsom. If Spencer won, we would have had to win our game to avoid relegation. News filtered through as we gathered for our game that Epsom had narrowly beaten Spencer 4-3. That was the same scoreline by which we beat Spencer a few weeks ago in what proved to be the crucial match of our season.  

It was a relief to play against OLs without any great pressure. Our squad was depleted, with nine of our usual pool of players unavailable, so we were grateful to Stiner and Noaksy for stepping in to help out after playing earlier in the day. The issue of player unavailabilty across the club on a weekly basis, but especially around school holiday times, is one that we need to address - a club of our size should not be struggling to put teams out each week.

The game itself was well contested although it took us a while to find our feet. OLs marginally shaded the first half despite the Magnets creating some good opportunities of their own. Unfortunately, our luck wasn’t in and several PCs were kept out by a mix of good fortune and inspired defensive work; a PS was well saved and OLs took a narrow one goal lead onto half time.

The second half saw the Magnets begin to find more space on the flanks and start to gain the upper hand. However, OLs found themselves 2-0 up after a PC strike found an unguarded backboard. That spurred a bit of a resurgence from the Magnets. Again, we had several opportunities, but it took a while before Paul Dowthwaite was able to hammer home a loose ball in the circle. We continued to press for an equaliser and won several more PCs, but sadly none of these came to fruition. By the latter stages OLs were content to play long balls into space and run the clock down and we ran out of time, leaving us to rue plenty of missed chances and feeling a little unlucky to have lost a tightly contested match. 

It has been a tough season, but we achieved our objective of staying up and have had some fantastic results when our backs were against the wall. Several of our matches were closer than the scorelines might suggest and we can only learn from this season and come back stronger next year.

A huge thank you to Helen and Rob for umpiring. Helen also deserves massive plaudits for her efforts in organising umpires every week - thank you. Thank you also to all those who played for and umpired us this season. Now it’s time for a short break before we start our midweek Summer League.