Ozanne hat-trick completes Colombians’ big recovery

EVEN at this early stage of the season, Colombians coming from 2-0 down to beat Casuals 5-2 felt significant in the Men’s Division One title race.

Andy Whalley, who scored one of the Casuals goals, attacks down the right wing. (Picture by Martin Gray, www.guernseysportphotography.com, 28785524)
Andy Whalley, who scored one of the Casuals goals, attacks down the right wing. (Picture by Martin Gray, www.guernseysportphotography.com, 28785524)

With Indies having extended their perfect start to three wins from three with a hard-fought 4-1 victory over Elizabeth College earlier in the day, the other two teams in the ‘Big Three’ clashed with neither wanting to lose more ground on the pace-setters.

It made for a full-blooded encounter that simmered throughout without ever boiling over as Colombians showed great character to recover from going two goals down inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour to take a valuable three points and stay within touching distance of the leaders, who they meet this coming Saturday.

Champions Casuals, on the other hand, are not yet out of the running with so much hockey still to play, but having now lost to both of their main rivals, they can ill afford many more slip ups. The men in black started this one in the manner of champions, though.

Buoyed by having a full match-day squad at their disposal, they were out of the blocks quickly and spent much of the first quarter on the front foot.

Within the first few minutes Chris Lowin had gone close with a low short-corner drag flick, Andy Whalley had fired over the bar and Jake Le Marchant had made a good save with his left boot to deny Matt Bain.

In one rare foray up the other end, Zak Damarell unleashed a fierce strike on the reverse that got blocked by Jack Webber, but Casuals were well on top and deservedly made the breakthrough on 7min.

With a good advantage played as the ball bobbled up off a Colombian's foot as Nick Bachmann drove into the D, the Casuals forward did not break stride and volleyed home.

Seven minutes later they doubled their lead.

Whalley capitalised on a misjudgement in the Colombians defence to break through one-on-one with Le Marchant and although the keeper did well to stand tall and block the first effort, the Casuals star kept his composure to thump the rebound home.

Colombians could not afford to fall further behind and gradually they begun to get a foothold in the match.

Although Damarell was denied by Webber for the second time in the half, the yellows’ captain was instrumental in their first goal with some good work in midfield before feeding Hamish Glass, whose shot was heading wide but TJ Ozanne was on hand at the back post to knock it in and halve the deficit.

By half-time they were level with Damarell again at the heart of the action as he took the ball one way then the other, using teammates as decoys, before an opening finally presented itself and young Toby Storer scored from close range.

A sharp shower arrived as the teams emerged for the second half and it quickly washed away Casuals’ chances as Colombians scored twice in the opening five minutes.

Ozanne put them ahead via a penalty stroke after Dave Morris had been penalised for a quite spectacular tackle and then Damarell finally got the goal he deserved in emphatic fashion, firing into the roof of the net.

Both sides continued to create chances before a flurry of three green cards in the space of two minutes added to the drama.

But with 10 minutes remaining Colombians made the game safe as Ozanne completed his hat-trick. The goal came at a short-corner with Damarell’s initial shot blocked but the ball fell to Ozanne who found the bottom corner with a precise finish.

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