The Under 14 Cup team had come through their EH Tier 1 competition easily. We offered to host the Tier 2 event and so at GHC on 10th April, we had Crostyx, Canterbury and Surbiton come to play in the regional play-offs. Only the top team would go through the Tier 3, the national finals of the top 8 teams across the competition. The day panned out for the U14s to be a genuine roller coaster in terms of emotions...
In the first game we started brightly and managed a solid win and played some great hockey with a couple of cracking goals against Crostyx.
In the second game against Canterbury we regressed to a scrappy game and fairly emotional but did very well to maintain an ounce of composure to score a good equaliser.
In the last game of the pool against Surbiton, we played well in sustained bursts and behaved well on the pitch with a genuine focus and a sense of discipline. Unfortunately we had a few good chances which we were not able to convert. Opposition drag flicks had got the better of us in the short corners; anticipating them and being better prepared to defend them is perhaps an area we can work on as the boys get older and will encounter more and more of this.
All in all a top effort from the boys and a shame the draw was harsh on us. BUT we now have the chance to play one final Sunday tournament at the Mercian League Finals Day. Play well and we may face Surbiton again with whom we can compete.
Well done to all the lads who were in the squad and please keep coming to training.
A nice comment from the Surbiton coach today ' I thought Guildford played really well and our coach had to change things which is a credit to your boys. Shame it couldn't have been the national final!! Always helps to have corner flicker!!!'
Big thanks to Peter for the match report and also Mike Cuin/Genie for umpiring, Jeremy for his usual unfussy behind the scenes help and as usual Zoe getting the day to happen.
Match report below.
James & Martin
On a sunny and windy April 10th, Guildford Hockey Club hosted the England Boys U14 Championships for the East Region. Four teams competed in a round robin format to determine who would progress to the National Finals. Crostyx, a newer club from Lee Valley, Canterbury, Surbiton and GHC all fielded strong, experienced sides and the battles were hard fought all afternoon.
v Crostyx (3-0 win)
Guildford's first match was against Crostyx. Our lineup represented one of our strongest sides of the season: Connor (Goalkeeper); Toby, Ben T, Jake and Ben F at the back; Adam, Harry, and a returning Marc patrolled the midfield, with Joel, Will F and Lucas our forward line. The boys were clearly up for it as we began quickly with early possession and sharp passing. Within the first three minutes, Harry found Joel on the left side of their D, who made a neat shift left and struck a hard reverse stick between the legs of their (6'5") keeper.
We maintained good width to our game and when we passed the ball we kept the oppo chasing us. Later in the first half, Adam had possession down the left, turned and found Ben across the pitch at right back. A firm transfer, and then a quick offload from Ben to a streaking Marc down the right channel; Mark cut inside, beat two defenders and drilled another reverse stick home: 2-0.
In the second half, we brought on fresh blood - Charlie, Oscar, Will S, Jasper and Ben, who all contributed well as we continued to dominate the game. Off a long corner, Marc's stickhandling released Will F in their D who had time to set himself and release another bullet reverse stick. We were home and dry, 3-0 victors over a tough Crostyx side.
v Canterbury (1-1 draw)
By the time we played our second match against Canterbury, we knew that Surbiton had won their first two games. Hungry to keep pace with them, we were utterly in control of the match. Heads up play down the right saw Ben on an overlap and he drilled a hard centring pass across the goalmouth that Joel just failed to connect on. Soon after, we created a short corner and only an outstanding stick save low to the keeper's right denied Toby a goal.
Connor made an excellent save off a breakaway counter attack from Canterbury. We had two further short corners before half time which failed to go, and as our frustration grew, we lost our width, and kept trying to run at them up the middle; likewise, we forgot that we're a better passing than carrying side and too many individual runs were stymied by good defensive play by the opposition.
Midway through the second half, on their only possession in our end, Canterbury knicked a goal off a reverse strike. Stung, we pressed back hard, and with under two minutes to go, a slick pass from Charlie to Marc, and a well aimed strike to the right of the keeper was deflected high into the net by Jake at their right post for a richly deserved 1-1.
We had a chance at the death with our 6th short corner of the game, but couldn't convert and the game ended a draw at 1-1. We had dominated possession, had 100% of the short corners, but had just failed to convert.
v Surbiton (3-0 loss)
That meant game three was Do or Die against Surbiton - no real surprise. Again we were fast out of the gate, took the game to them and just missed a goal within the first minute on Will F's reverse stick. They countered, secured a short corner. A really well struck drag flick got past and we were 1-0 down.
The boys responded well and controlled much of the play for the next 10 mins, with good movement off the ball and finding the open man for a pass. We worked a great two on one chance but failed to get a shot away; unfortunately, a quick counter by their lads saw us concede a second short corner. Another clear chance taken cleanly by Surbiton, and we were 2-0 down.
In the second half, Surbiton began to assert control, and did a better job than us moving the ball and keeping a solid shape. They had four short corners in the half, and although we saved the first two, the third was a carbon copy goal, low and hard, for 3-0. We battled hard after that, but just couldn't create the chances we needed. Game over.
All in, it was clear that we were the stronger side in our first two games; against Surbiton, we had chances early, but couldn't sustain the way we wanted to play.
Peter W (game day analyst!)
Massive effort from the lads this season and Martin and I were very proud of how we played in the final game after we seemed to focus and maintain our pattern of play. Shame we weren't able to finish more of our chances and our corner defence was caught out three times (but plenty saved). We go away with some lessons learned; and we win and lose as a squad. Onward and upward. Martin and I have enjoyed coaching the boys this season and really hope to be involved going forward. We have seen many of them develop from 7 years old in the u8s through all the age groups and many are now playing in the Mens 3s/4s. It’s great to see them develop as players and individuals.
Mercian finals await!!!
As always any feedback most welcome on the day or the season.
Squad – Ben T, Jake, Toby, Ben F, Jasper, Harry, Joel, Adam, Oscar, Fergie, Lucas, Connor, Ben B, Marc, Will S, Charlie V
Coaches – James & Martin
Umpires – Genie, Mike C
General legends – Zoe, Jeremy