At the end of a very competitive season, the Under 16 Boys stood a good chance of doing well at the Nottingham Hockey Centre after topping the West Area Tier 1 qualifier; with our objective of getting to the Final, we would need to stick to our passing game and maintain discipline...
Pool B had some tough competition with Old Loughtonians, Bishops Stortford and Beeston to play. With no semi-finals, the top performing team on points would get to the Gold medal match and the second performing team would go for 3rd/4th place.
Game 1 v Old Loughtonians (2-0 loss)
In a frenetic start Old Loughtonians didn’t hang about and raced down one end of the pitch to earn a penalty stroke in the first few minutes. Ethan made a blinder of a save and Toby then raced down the right flank and penetrated the OLs D to force a good save at the other end.
The boys then settled down a bit after the opening and started to pass the ball well. OLs responded with a very clear game plan of a monster of an aerial ball and some very fast wingers.
Will T managed to win a short corner after a sharp pass from Harry and the shot from Will F was then saved. We had a number of chances in the first half forcing the OLs keeper into action.
Very tight first half with a close effort but we had more possession and more entries in to their D.
The half time talk focused on the team staying calm and passing the ball. Then a short corner followed at the start of the second half and a well worked routine between Fergie and Jake meant we missed from 5 yards, narrowly wide.
OLs kept up the aerial bombardment but we coped well with it and earned the free hits. OLs got feistier and a few cards were issues in a frantic second half. Ben R and James P and Chan all added energy at the end and worked tirelessly to get a goal and defend as a unit.
OLs then scored a well taken short corner beating Ethan low and to his left. Hobie managed to fire off a rocket of a shout at point blank range that their keeper did brilliantly to save. The green cards kept being issued but we couldn’t quite get a shot away on target.
The last 12 mins we put on a kicking back to be positive and push for a win but then conceded another short corner that OLs converted.
The boys were frustrated to lose but we knew the group would have a few surprises in the weekend so tried to learn the lessons of sticking to our passing game and to not get stuck in a direct, route 1 game.
Game 2 v Bishops Stortford (3-1 win)
After a long break we kept focused and knew game 2 had to show an improvement to stand any chance of a top4 finish. We had a real bright start with lots of passing and movement. Fergie chucked a few aerial balls down the line to Hobie and shots followed from Will T and Charlie.
Lots of good passes but then were turned over and conceded a goal. Also down a man with Toby being yellow carded.
The 10 remaining players responded in spades and worked super hard. Will T scored after a neat deflection to make it 1-1 and forced a number of saves. Hobie ran half the pitch to tackle back and Will S showed great composure under pressure.
Some neat interplay between Ollie, Harry and Joel then responded in a corner. After a neat save from the keeper Hobie smashed in a volley to make it 2-1. All to play for.
Start of the 2nd half great carry from Harvey and calm finish from Chan to make it (3-1). Lots of rotations from the bench with Johnny showing good composure to retain the ball and support the other forwards.
Last 5 mins saw th passing continuing and Harry hit Will T with a great 40 yard pass which saw Will T go very close and almost score.
3-1 win and Beeston managed to win 4-3 v OLs so it was nicely poised at the end of Day 1.
Game 3 v Beeston (5-0 win)
All to play for on day 2 with a myriad of outcomes possible. We woke up super early for A 9.15 am game knowing we could either get through to the final 4 or go home!!
After a good evening rsting and some amusing ‘fines’ for the lads we were in good spirits and ready to focus on the Beeston challenge
Tight start but the defence was rock solid of Toby, Jake, Fergie and Will S. Harvey, Harry and Joel worked very hard in the midfield and the attack of Charlie, Hobie and Will T pressed super high. The bench contributed with Will F, James P and Ben involved.
Beeston pressed us early doors and earned a short corner. Couple of great saves by Ethan and a goal was disallowed after the umpire saw it hit the attackers foot.
Then a we went up the other end and earned a short corner. Will T deflected in nicely.
Another corner followed after a strong run by Harvey and Jake finished with a strong slap to make it 2-0.
Then lots of good play down the right with Harry and Sloggett and Ollie overloading. Then a short corner followed and after a bit of chaos. Ben R also rotated up front and always aimed to connect with the other forwards
Will Firth scored after a looping volley 3-0 at half time from a short corner. After a poor conversion rate in the regionals our corners worked well and led to 3 goals in the first half.
All to play for in the 2nd half and we could see the OLs score v Bishops Stortford all the way through the game. At this stage we knew had to get 4 goals in total but minute by minute we were checking the scores. Exciting times and a cracking atmosphere for the game.
We had all the ball and great first 5mins of possession and energy from the boys.
We had lots of one on one chances but didn’t quite come then Jake green carded for what had looked like a good recovery tackle.
Short corners came and went but we could quite score. Goalkeeper did well and saved the flick from Fergie and we kept feasting on the possession.
Then close from Charlie after great possession and Will T went close at the far post. As the time ticked down the boys kept working their socks off. After a saved short corner Harry scrambled home the 4-0 goal but by then OLs had scored again with us needing a 5th goal to top the group!!
The final goal came after a lovely reverse shot from Will T was deflected far post by Hobie to send the crowd into raptures!!!
What a game and what drama. A great contest and the boys did so well.
Final – Surbiton (3-1 loss)
We had already played Surbiton twice this season and won both games but knew it would be a tight affair against their complete squad.
We had a strong start and had most of the ball but got hit on the break and then conceded a goal after a great first save that fell to Surbiton's Connor W who lashed it home reverse stick.
The team responded quickly and Will T did well to hit a neat reverse stick shot to make it 1-1 after good build up play from the midfield. Game on after a helter-skelter 8 mins.
We had a golden chance 2 yards out at the far post that we couldn’t quite finish. Would have put us 2-1 up.
Surbiton set a super high press and then caught us napping in the middle of the pitch to then earn a short corner and Ollie W scored a neat corner with Ethan getting a glove to it.
Surbiton then again closed us well down our right hand side and scored a screamer after Surbiton's captain hit a rocket of a reverse stick shot high to the right of Ethan.
We managed to calm down and retain the ball. Joel then earned a corner and we missed a sharp chance from the rebound.
Tight start to second half and made a few penetrations to the 25 and got a harsh green card to put us a man down. The boys across the park worked hard and Will T went close from a narrow angle and we forced a series of saves from the Surbiton keeper.
More overloads followed and a couple of corners in the last 5 mins but we could quite break down the door. The last short corner was charged down and we kept passing the ball. In the end it wasn’t quite enough and we came 2nd to a very good team.
Overall a very very good squad effort after a roller coaster of a weekend.
Huge thanks to all the parents for their support which was immense and a huge help in the key games. Lots of thanks to Caroline for her organisation skills and the coaching team led by Rob with support from Ed and Martin.
Finally, a BIG thanks for the boys this season for their character and application. We have had a super season where we have finished 2nd in the National indoor and outdoor plus 2nd in Barcelona. We have had a series of very tight games against the best clubs in the South and England and Spain!! The weekend was great fun and the culmination of many weeks of training and many games in cold and wet conditions and years of application and focus. The entire U16 squad has had a solid season and the depth of the whole squad contributes to having a very good A side to compete at the highest level in the land.
Top effort and keep enjoying your hockey. See you at a hockey pitch soon . . .
Lead Coach – Rob Field
Assistants – James, Ed, Martin
Manager – Caroline
Squad – Ethan (GK), Fergie, Jake, Ollie, Will S, Joel, Harry, Hobie, Toby, James P, Harvey, Ben, Will T, Chan, Charlie, Jonny, Will F