The boys arrived through the mist into glorious sunshine at Polo Farm, Canterbury for the U16 Boys Club Indoor South Finals.
Great to have Ed Tristem (coaching GHC BU10s and BU12s this season and himself a very good indoor player) helping coach the boys today in the absence of BU16 squad coach Rob Field (who was playing in the EH Men's Super Sixes play-offs).
The first game we knew would be tough against host side Canterbury who the boys have played a couple of times this year. Canterbury train a lot indoor in their great new hall and would be tough opponents. The first game was key to work out who may top the pool.
Pool Game 1 v Canterbury (2-1 win)
We conceded a goal in the first couple of minutes despite playing some great hockey with a lot of width and possession. Canterbury played a direct ball to the goal and the attacker did well to bundle in a deflection.
Will T then went on a series of mazy runs but we couldn't quite convert and then Joel did well to finish but the goal was disallowed due to hitting instead of a push. A great finish and a slightly harsh umpiring decision but the boys pressed on regardless.
After a rebalance at half time we managed to keep the majority of possession and the goal came from a great pivot on the top of the D from Hobie and then Will T ran the ball over the line.
It was a close and tense game and Connor was solid at the back and Jake and Harry didn't let many balls past them. Very close and numerous short corners and Will T went very close. The final goal came after a lot of good movement from the team and Will T finished well. Job done game 1 won well.
Pool Game 2 v Spencer (4-0 win)
We started well with Will T going close. We then had lots of possession but a bit scrappy and had another close shot from Will T.
Spencer hit us on a break and then got a short corner but Connor did well to save it.
Started the second half strong and Harry scored a short corner. The second goal came from a great run from Jake who finished calmly and then 2 great goals from Will T; a supercharged 3 min phase with 4 goals coming rapidly.
Then a real intense last 6 mins in which Ben was off briefly for a clumsy tackle. Jasper and Will S worked very hard in defence and held on to a 4-0 win.
Onward and upward.
Pool Game 3 v Marlow (4-2 win)
Great start and Harry scored a short with a great push out from Joel and sharp stop from Jake.
Then lots of chances followed and Will T scored a screamer after being penned in the corner to make it 2-0.
We went 3 at the back and looked very balanced. The 3rd goal came from another short corner, Will T scoring after a switch at the top of the D.
Then Marlow scored but we came back strongly and we kept the ball to then score a great team goal 4-1. Will T went down the right and Hobie scored a great goal at the far post.
We managed a couple more short corners and Will F and Ben worked hard up front to press the opposition. Marlow then finished with a short corner goal after a great initial save by Connor. Strong performance and on to the semi-finals!!!
Semi-final v East Grinstead (3-2 win)
After topping the group with 3 wins we then faced a strong EG team who had pushed Surbiton. We started well with 3 at the back and retained the ball well and penetrated the EG D several times in the first minute.
A far post goal came from Joel after some good build up play and then a second goal followed to put us 2-0 up.
Then EG staged a comeback with their keeper off with a yellow card and then replaced with an outfield player. This certainly caused us problems but we managed to reorganise and Will T made it 3-1.
But EG came back at us strongly and forced a series of saves from Connor. They finally scored to make it 3-2 but we stayed calm for the mad last 2 mins to win and make it through to the final and also the national finals in Jan.
Final v Surbiton (5-3 loss)
We mixed the team up at the start of the game and started very slowly conceding 2 simple goals in about the first 40 seconds.
We settled down and reorganised to play some decent hockey and Hobie scored a deflection from a good pass from Harry at the back. Surbiton then struck again to make it 3-1 at half time.
In the second half we passed the ball better and remained more composed and Jake scored to make it 3-2. Surbiton than unleashed 2 thunder bolt short corners to make it 5-2.
Will T got a green card right near the end which left us short for a minute but then Harry scored at the death to make it 5-3. A good game and after a sloppy start showed we can compete at this level.
Overall a great day for the team and they achieved one of their season objectives to make the national indoor finals. This group of players worked well as a team and now have the chance to improve at the national finals. When we stayed calm and passed the ball with width we looked excellent.
Thanks to Ed for his help coaching on the day and Caroline for her organising and all the parents for making the dawn patrol to Canterbury!!
Have a good Xmas break and lest come back in Jan and go again!!!
Squad – Connor, Jake, Harry, Will S, Will F, Joel, Hobie, Will T, Ben, Jasper
Coaches – Ed & James