HOCKEY: AFTER a break of almost two months, both of Olton’s flagship sides re-entered the National League arena once more at the weekend with both sides sitting pretty in third in their respective leagues.
This week the ladies were playing mid-table Oxford Hawks and felt confident of a win to start off the second half of their season.
It started well with Olton earning several penalty corners but it took a while before Sally Walton fired one home in the 32nd minute.
Chances in open play were hard to come by and the closest Olton came to increasing their score in the first half was through debutante, 15-year-old Lucy Smith who was thwarted by a double save by the Oxford keeper.
In the second half, Oxford came back strongly and despite several goal-scoring chances at both ends, the game moved on at a pace with Olton protecting their single goal advantage.
In the 56th minute Oxford got the break they needed and slotted home a goal from open play and after that the game then became frenetic with both sides creating chances but to no avail.
A 1-1 draw was not as bad as a loss but the visitors were obviously the happier at the end and Olton will know that they need to find some more firepower to convert possession into goals this weekend away at Bristol Firebrands.
On Sunday the men’s team played host to league leaders University of Durham having spent the break with most of the team playing in the Regional and National Indoor Leagues.
The visitors however were younger and had trained throughout January and played competitive University matches but it was a game of two halves that showed.
Olton took the lead in the third minute with a penalty corner move finished of by Joe Paul.
The lead however lasted only nine minutes before Durham scored. Olton regained the lead 15 minutes later with a goal from Jack Mallett from open play which gave them a narrow 2-1 advantage at the break.
From the start of the second period things seemed to turn against the home side and within 15 minutes they were 5-2 down with another goal against them 15 minutes later.
It was a wakeup call for Olton, and the biggest defeat that the class of 2016-17 had received.
All is not lost, as the visitors are far and away the strongest side in the Division with their three Junior Internationals. The result makes the chances of Durham reaching the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League a lot more likely.
This week the men travel to Chester to play Deeside Ramblers.