Oxford Hawks 3 Chelmsford 4

East Hockey Men’s Cup

CHELMSFORD’S cup campaign came to a spectacular end on Sunday when Oxford Hawks came from three goals down to secure an unexpected victory. The visitors produced a stunning late rally that belied their lower league ranking to cause one of the upsets of the round.

In a very even first half, goal scoring chances were at a premium with Oxford restricted to goal scoring chances from short corners, with Jason Evans making one particularly impressive save low to his right. Chelmsford at times looked dangerous in attack, but a series of last gasp tackles and interceptions left the Hawks’ goal unchallenged.

However, moments before the break, Aamer Chaudhry latched on to a mistake in the Oxford defence and his pass across goal was swept home at the far post by Simon Bird.

With a slender lead at half time, Chelmsford’s opening to the second half was emphatic. Straight from the start, Chelmsford attacked down the right flank, and Ryan Ibbotson’s crashed pass into the D was deflected in by Harry Rayner.

Moments later Chelmsford were on the front foot and again, and Adam Hunter applied the finish at a short corner to give Chelmsford a seemingly unassailable lead.

However, Oxford had other ideas and a switch in tactics soon paid dividends. Having forced more short corners, they found themselves back in the game with a rebound after David Hunter’s goal line clearance fell kindly to the waiting striker.

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With the hosts failing to adapt to the change in pace of the game, Hawks were now firmly on top and they took full advantage of mistakes in the Chelmsford defence twice to level the scores. With the prospect of extra time looming, both teams pushed forward looking for the winner, and it was Oxford who found it when a stray pass round the defence was cut out by an attacker who found his teammate at the far post to give them an unlikely victory.

Chelmsford will look to return to winning ways on Saturday when they host title hopefuls St Albans at Chelmer Park at 2pm.

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