A 15:30 pushback at Furze meant the COP Stars youngsters could have a lie in this morning and it was lucky they did as they needed all their energy in this match against runaway league leaders US Portsmouth 2's. The Stars line up was mainly teenagers today. The injury list has grown throughout the season and most of Stars Senior players were on it. Normally Stars take a squad of 16 but today only 12 as 4 of the Senior players were injured. Stars chose ends and US took pushback and the first half was very competitive as both sides pushed for the points. Sadly for Tristan Barnes his efforts to combat the strong services team left him with a stick injury to his eye and his head. Tristan rolled off for Ben Hayward to cover him in the centre. US Portsmouth attacked and took an early lead but Stars bombarded the US goal and wouldn't lie down and it wasn't long before the Stars won a short corner. Louis pushed out and Paul Barnes dodged the number 1 runner and struck a hard low shot at goal to equalise. Game on and the following period up until half time it remained 1-1 as both sides attacked and counter attacked. Jacob Shucksmith scored to put Stars 2-1 up but for some reason unknown to the players the umpires discussed and disallowed Jacobs superb individual effort.
Jacob received praise from the US keeper who appreciated his efforts today. At half time Stars were pleased with their efforts but the US team were all adults and the Stars mainly teenage side had to show they could compete at this level.
After half time the battle raged and Dan Hargreaves and Aaron Kemp blasted forward to supply the midfield and even sometimes getting crosses into the D. Clive Parsons and Theo were a great double act at the back and were keeping things tight. US were well organised in the 2nd half and they managed to get back in front with goals from Rob their key centre forward. US had started to try to edge their way ahead with a couple of goals but the City youngsters battled hard and created waves of attack at the US goal. Harry Hellyer showed great skills and passing. Louis smashed a ball home from mid air with an awesome strike but sadly the whistle had gone for dangerous play. Two minutes later Tristan received a high ball into the circle and reached high into the air on the back post to touch it home but the umpire had blown again for dangerous play (but Stars crazy youngsters still chase those scary air balls into the D!)
Diarmaid in goal made some key saves and kicks which kept the score down. James Payne at the other end caused major mayhem and havoc against the US defence. Sadly the time was running out and despite Stars efforts to get more goals the game ended 1-5 in favour of USP.
Paul Barnes Captain of COP Stars said ' I don't cope well with defeats but today I only feel happiness and pride in my players. The team have been improving weekly but today I saw the whole team play very fast attacking proper hockey. The lads played it wide and around the pitch using the pivot option or the wingers and with such confidence against a very good side who are way ahead at the top of our league and a team which would be more suitable to Div 5 or 6. I'm going to bed tonight so pleased to see our development team reach this new level. The future is bright for these players it really is. The opposition players and umpires were very complimentary about the display they witnessed today.'
Next week Stars travel to Andover for the late pushback slot at 16:00 to play a test match friendly against Andover's Hampshire Div 7 side.