Maidenhead HC's 'improved mindset' takes them top of the table

Maidenhead Hockey Club captain Phil Cowell has spoken of the club’s ‘improved mindset’ this season, and it was evident once again this weekend as they swept aside a youthful Oxford OBU side 4-1 at Altwood.

Maids cruised to victory on their home astroturf with Dave Harding firing in three unstoppable shots from penalty corners to add to Shiv Kapoor’s strike.

Victory lifts the side to the top of MBBO Premier Division 2 West and was their second in three matches.

“Yeah, it’s been a fantastic start,” said Cowell. “To carry on the unbeaten streak and to get a win against a team like Oxford is great. There were lots of positives again. Dave Harding, our new addition, scored a hat-trick of goals from penalty corners. Defensively on short corners we looked good as it’s an area where we conceded quite a few last year.

“The workrate of the whole team was fantastic and we just seem to have an improved mindset. After they scored just before half-time to make it 3-1, we might have come out sloppily for the second half, but instead we came out with a positive mindset and defended really well to shut them out. It got quite feisty at times and there were a few cards, but discipline wise we kept our heads when there were some questionable decisions.

“The big thing is there is still so much more to come from us. Our game management wasn’t the best at times on Saturday so there are still things we can improve on.”

Maids benefitted from the fact that this was Oxford OBU’s first league game of the season. The students who play for the side have been self-isolating for the past couple of weeks so were understandably a little ring-rusty against a Maids side who have hit the ground running this season. The visitors worked hard and made life difficult for the home side at times, but Maids won this quite comfortably, without ever having to find top gear.

“We have to say it was a good time to play them,” he said. “We’ve had two games already to get up to that league speed, whereas they came into this game after two weeks of being in isolation. So yeah, I guess it’s fortunate, but they were still a strong side and had some good players. We just managed them really well. Everyone did their jobs on the pitch.”

Maids’ ability to take advantage of penalty corner opportunities is now a standout feature of their game. They’re clinically taking chances this season when in the past they might have let them go begging and got drawn into a dogfight.

“Dave struck all three penalty corners straight into the goal in the same manner as last week,” added Cowell. “He’s now scored four over the two games. To have that sort of weapon who can score from corners makes a big difference in this league. Hopefully he can keep that form up. But just to have him at the back helps us. He had another good game and brings the best out of others with his communication. You can see the confidence growing in the team. To be unbeaten and to sit top after three games is fantastic, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”

Cowell’s men face their toughest test so far on Saturday when they make the long trip to play Bournemouth.

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