Sevenoaks very kindly organised a strong festival against the best that Kent had to play against us, giving us all good match practice as the country festivals draw closer. Have a look at how Team A and Team B did...
GHC Boys Under 12s Team B
Squad: Luke, Gibbo, Liam, Archie, Joseph, Gouldie, Ollie B, Cole, Toby
This was an excellent chance to play 7-a-side hockey against two other strong clubs hence giving the boys great match practice for the upcoming Surreys. We played 4 games in total against each of the Sevenoaks and Canterbury A&B teams. Each match was arranged to ensure all our boys played at least half the game.
Guildford vs Sevenoaks B, 2-1 win, Gibbo, Gouldie
It was clear to see that the boys are getting used to playing together and hence got off to a well coordinated start moving the ball around competently. The boys immediately pressurised the opposition and their persistence paid off with a great goal from Gibbo.
The second half of the game saw Sevenoaks equalise which was a shame after all the pressure we had exerted. We were awarded a short corner seconds before the final whistle, so no pressure to score! The ball came out cleanly to Gouldie who had time to line up a really hard shot straight into the back of the goad to sneak a deserved win!
Guildford vs Canterbury B, 3-0 win, Gibbo x2, Toby
Our second game had us focusing on a couple of minor improvements to get the ball wider and also to pass a little earlier. This game saw some excellent runs from Archie and Toby down the left and right wings respectively. With Cole, Ollie, Liam and Joseph playing a strong defence backed up with some excellent goal keeping from Luke. Gibbo scored the first goal after a great build up. The second goal came from a rebound off the keepers pads which was picked up by Toby who undercut the ball into the top of the net. The third goal came from a few shorts all saved by the keeper and backs but persistence paid off as Gibbo kept following up and was eventually rewarded with the goal.
Guildford vs Sevenoaks A, 0-2 loss
The next two games were against the A teams so the standard was clearly going to be a higher with less time on the ball. Whilst we lost this game the boys played some excellent hockey and defended well. Without Luke in goal the score line would have been a lot higher as he made some excellent saves under sustained pressure. At no time did the boys heads drop and up front Toby, Gouldie and Ben struck many hard and accurate shots which were saved by some excellent goal keeping.
Guildford vs Canterbury A, 1-2 loss, Gouldie
This was another high class game and again the boys played with grit and determination going 2-0 down before Gouldie scored one back and was very unfortunate not to get a second.
All in all a very satisfying tournament where everyone without exception made a significant contribution in each position they played. Great experience for the Surreys coming up in Feb.
GHC Boys Under 12s Team A
We started off against Sevenoaks As and were a little dozy for the first 5 minutes, as so often happens after a long drive and despite a decent warm up. Our passing wasn't quite as crisp as usual and we were unusually losing too many of the 50/50 balls. However, we were settled as Jack put a good through ball to Caspar in space, who rounded the keeper with his customary wide ball & body and scored. Josh was causing them trouble with his strong runs down the right, working his way into the D and unselfishly pulling it back to Caspar, 2-0. Sevenoaks came back though and put us under pressure, we didn't clear the ball out wide and they got 1 back. But the boys stayed calm and weren't rattled, Ben made a great interception and calmly played a great 2 on 1 with Caspar, who scored his hat trick. 3-1 was the same score as our last match against Sevenoaks in Barcelona, and the boys displayed good self awareness after the game to assess their weaknesses and strengths.
In the next game against Canterbury Bs they put this self awareness to good use, playing with much more width and the ball speed was improving. Caspar scored the first after a dribble through the defence from a short corner, Josh again caused them trouble and his dribble into the D was laid back to Caspar for another. The third was a great follow up from the goalies' pads, which Jack smashed towards goal and unfortunately connecting with Caspar's ankle on its way in. I think the umpire was taken aback by the strength of the hit, which caused poor Caspar a nasty bruise and an enforced rest period. After a little formation rejig, Ben scored the fourth and last with a trademark reverse stick strike. 4-0, good determination and ball speed: excellent!
We were then probably a bit complacent vs Sevenoaks Bs, not playing with nearly enough width or space and not taking quick shots when in the D. But we persevered and a good reverse stick shot from Josh was well saved by the keeper, with Sam R following up well and slapping it high into the corner almost from a kneeling position. There was one good, quick pivot from Sammy D to Scott and then down the line to Caspar - 3 passes and we were in their D. The ball came back to Jack, who took the quick strike as the coach wanted and nailed the ball into the corner. The boys were a bit disappointed with their game, which again showed good self awareness, and were determined to play better in the last, crunch match.
Canterbury under 12s were national champions last season and we knew this would be our toughest test. And so it proved, with their strong centre half and skilful centre forward backed up by tight marking and as strong a defensive press as we employ against other teams. Scott and Sammy hassled and harried them, Henry B and Ben working back hard to help them out. They rushed us and forced us to play too narrowly and our dribbling was stopped by strong tackling. Despite good defence and good saves from Oscar, their centre half scored a great quickly struck goal into the corner. We came back well, kept on pushing hard and won more 50/50 balls. We earned a short corner and narrowly missed to the right, the closest we came in the game, which ended soon after. The boys were disappointed but knew it was a tough test and a good learning experience - mark as tight defensively as they did to us, improve the ball speed to get it out wide quicker, and pass the ball out of contact.
In summary, it was a great festival where we showed many of our attacking qualities, developed a good new defensive pairing and just lost out to a quality team, which gives us plenty to work on for the next month before the Surreys!