The Under 12 Boys hosted 9 teams from 6 clubs in addition to our own 3 teams, in a Championship competition and a Cup competition. The weather was atrocious but the hockey was played in great spirits by all teams, watched by some really hardy supporters. The boys really appreciate the support so thanks to those who weathered the rain. And also to all involved in hosting such a large event.
Guildford B Team Report
It was the wettest day since Noah got the planks of wood out of the tool shed, yet we welcomed 9 other teams from 6 clubs to the good ship GHC. The B team played in the Championship section of the festival, so against other A teams, but we started off with little fear against Eastcote As.
We were, however, a little slow to start and the passing was a little sluggish, with not enough width to really stretch the opposition. We still pushed hard though, with Joe G in the centre and Toby K up front combining well, which resulted in a nicely struck goal for Joe G. We had a few more chances but couldn't quite finish them off, the opposition presssed back and scored the equaliser on the break with only 2 minutes to go... 1-1 to start off the festival was ok, but meant we had to get a healthy goal difference to progress through as group winners.
The next game vs South Berks was a bit smoother as the boys gelled as a team, with the halves of Ted B, Ollie de G-W and Barnaby B playing with more width and Toby K again making good runs for them to pass onto. Ted B scored a sweet goal but we couldn't quite convert a few more chances, so ending up second in the group by a goal difference of only 1 less than Eastcote. So we were to play Guildford As in the semi-final!
With strong instructions that to pass wide with real ball speed was the only way to get around the quick As, Joseph W and Ollie B at the back certainly took it to heart. Extremely quick, one touch slaps out wide did stretch the As and Ollie de G-W proved a thorn in their side down the left. However, we lost possession too easily as passes were intercepted and Luke M in goal had little chance against a few 1on1s came his way. Ollie de G-W pressed his way into the D and got a nice goal back, but it ended up 1-3 and we were through to the bronze medal play off. The game was a tough one and we weren't disgraced by any means: we played with much better ball speed around the back, but were taught the need to keep that speed going forward and guard possession more closely.
The last match was a tight affair with both teams a little tense due to the occasion, but we were starting to stretch the opposition and created quite a few good chances. However, their goalie was playing well, standing tall and holding us at bay. We again didn't play with enough width to really get behind them, but had all the chances in the game, which ended 0-0: flicks it was then! Once again their goalie had some good saves and it was 1-1 after the best of 3, down to sudden death. They scored a good flick into the corner and we just pushed a strong flick wide: the lottery of penalty flicks went against us.
I was really impressed by the improvement in play as the games progressed, particularly as the ball speed improved, and how hard the boys worked for each other. The downpour didn't get them down and they kept on running hard, but were unlucky that a few close chances didn't quite go their way.
Guildford C Team Report
In the Cup competition the Guildford Boys C team played Ashford B and Eastcote B twice in the pool rounds.
Squad: Joey, Cole, Liam, James M, James D, Sam, Ethan, Tommy
Guildford C vs Ashford B: 2-0 win (James D, James M)
The boys got off to a good start having virtually run their own team talk at the beginning on what the important things they needed to focus on during the game: Ball speed, early passing out wide and Velcro (close marking). The boys did do this well and the result was two good goals from James D & M. Sam was having a spirited game in the middle of the pitch as well. The lesson to be learnt from this game was to make sure our right wing was wide out to the right.
Guildford C vs Eastcote B: 5-0 win (James D x 2, James M x 3)
This was probably our best pool game in terms of all round hockey and the results showed. James M made 2 excellent runs down the right wing then cutting in across the back line before scoring one for himself and passing the other to one of our open players. James D also positioned himself excellently in the D. Liam and Cole were closing everything down in defence before passing the ball out wide and starting most of our successful attacks. Sam and Ethan and Tommy were harassing the opposition constantly pressurising them whenever they had the ball.
Guildford C vs Ashford B: 2-0 win (Sam x 2)
By now the team were into a rhythm, they were comfortable with their positions and were playing well together one good example was Cole making a run up the left and Ethan covering back for him. This was also a demonstration of not wanting to rest on our laurels as we knew Ashford would want to get one back on us. Again the team played well and Sam scored a couple of cracking goals.
Guildford C vs Eastcote B: 3-1 win (James M x 3)
Again confidence was high in this second game against Eastcote (arguably too high) as on a few occasions the opposition attacking players behind our last line of defence which early in the game led to Eastcote scoring the first goal. Heads were definitely down for 30 secs as we re-grouped for the pushback but the boys showed calm immediately after play started again and believed in themselves controlling the game and in no time at all we had equalised and then were back in front. Tommy showed some excellent 3D skills on one of his runs down the left jabbing under the ball to lift it over the opposition stick. James M scored all three of our goals in this match and good to see the team come back from an early loss.
This meant that having won all our pool game matches we were through to the final which was played against Havant who had won the other pool in the Cup competition.
Guildford C vs Havant: 1-0 win (Tommy)
This was our toughest game between two closely matched teams. Again the team played really well together with Liam and Cole doing an absolutely sterling job in defence and Joey also making a couple of vital saves which kept our sheet clean for the final. Sam, Ethan and Tommy were fighting for everything in the midfield and the two James' were doing a great job up front. Our goal came from a fantastic display of tenacity, as from where I was standing, there was no doubt that the ball had crossed the goal line but a goal had not been awarded. Rather than giving up, thinking the goal had been scored the team kept fighting and ensured the ball went clearly over the line for a second time in full view of the umpire.
A fantastic team effort throughout the afternoon played by a squad of players who showed great passion and were clearly enjoying themselves. A pleasure to coach and a very deserved win. Congratulations boys!!
My man of the match was James (..... yes both of you). Well played but actually well played the whole team. The success was very much the result of a team effort.