BLUES HOCKEY Oxford 3 Purley Walcountians 1 The Blues commenced their latest Premiership campaign with a comprehensive 3-1 drubbing of a combative Purley outfit. Dan Solomon edged in the third, but it was debutant Mark Little who caught the eye with two extraordinary strikes. Purley, who finished two places higher than the Blues last season, had no answer to the flair and tenacity of the magnificent home side. Oxford had experienced the worst possible start when fresher Dave Cresswell limped off after a promising fourteen minutes. Much to their credit, his teammates maintained the initiative, Dan Fox surging from midfield at every opportunity. It was Fox himself who nearly opened the scoring on twenty minutes. His fiercesome hit from a short corner was well-blocked by Gareth Dunn. Former skipper Rob Woodhead also came close before the interval, spraying a shot just over the bar. The second half proved a full-blooded affair. Once Jesus’ Richard Blackburn scythed down a sprinting Nick Champness there was little doubting the intent and urgency in the Blues performance. Dave Close stepped forward with assurance from the back, with Andrew Armitage offering width and considerable threat out on the right. Little subbed on for Tom Bullock on fifty-one minutes, Kal El Wahab stung the ball left and there was the replacement to lash a splendid reverse-stick strike beneath the body of the Purley stopper. Still, the waspish visitors fought back and were rewarded with a sudden equaliser. Former England U21 international Nick Hayes executed the calm finish following a chopped cross from Mark Hardy. Oxford retook the lead within three minutes. Woodhead found space on the left, shooting across the face of the goal only for a remarkable lunge from Little to deflect the ball home. With Dunn drawn out of position, the two-goal striker turned provider to gift Solomon the third. The Christ Church player rolled the ball into the net to wrap up the three points for the Blues.

ARCHIVE: 0th week MT 2003