“I am very proud of the whole squad’s performance on Saturday.”
A day of mixed emotions on Saturday in the play offs at Wakefield. Last run out for U16s and the last time Ewan, the assistant coach, will be stood pitch side with these boys trying to work out when to shout some encouragement/advice and when to keep my mouth shut! This is his report:
I told the boys before we started the first warm up that we wanted the team to keep a focus on simple hockey and to work hard for each other. We were missing 5 players and up against Ben Rhydding, Driffield and Harrogate so it wasn’t going to be easy but tournament hockey with 25 minute matches can throw up surprising results so they had to start wanting it and willing to work hard.
Throughout the season we’ve managed to deliver the game plan on and off but they’ve always struggled to keep it going for three games on the trot – until yesterday. We were holding on to a 0-0 draw with Ben Rhydding for most of the first game and got so close to scoring but just couldn’t finish it off and it was a real shame to finish 1-0 in a game it really looked like they were going to win. But the boys played very well from back to front with particularly strong performances from George Hall and Jonathan – honestly never seen them play so well and with so much drive. Message to the boys was keep it going and build on that performance.
Next up an in-form Driffield who have got stronger and stronger in the second half of the season – particularly in defence. The boys had a one match break which is often both a blessing and curse but they came out firing on all cylinders and again nearly pulled an early lead with two near shots from Fozzy and Connor and one from George Hunt that the keeper stopped and our defence doing a great job again of closing down any attack Driffield had. Superb team effort kept us in the hunt with 2 mins to go with Driffield scoring a well worked goal and we just didn’t have enough time to pull it back but that was another game that could of gone either way.
Final match – Harrogate. To put this into context Garry, the Harrogate coach, fielded their full strength squad and this team have made it the U16 National Finals this season and include seven boys in an England Hockey Performance Centre (at full strength we have three). Undaunted the boys carried on from their last match and weathered numerous Harrogate attacks really well and pulled off some superb counter attacks with George Hunt and Connor pairing very well up front with Fozzy pushing high and Jonathan having the game of his life in midfield. We held it to 0-0 for at least 20 mins and Harrogate’s two green cards, and the verbal they were getting from Garry, showed we had them under pressure. The boys conceded one with five minutes to go but heads didn’t go down and a quick counter attack started from Michael and Fozzy in midfield which led to a great goal from Connor. 1-1 and minutes to go. Alas the boys were beginning to flag having worked so hard (particularly in defence) and we conceded a number of penalty corners in the last 5 mins – one of which was scored by Harrogate. Our goal keeper, Max, was very solid all day and had a great game against Harrogate who are a class act in attack.
Upon reflection I think it says a lot about a group of boys who can leave the pitch after three narrow defeats and still feel like they had a good day and gave it their all. I am very proud of the whole squad’s performance on Saturday – individually and collectively they have never played that well over three matches against strong opposition and they really delivered the performance Neil has been coaching them throughout the season.
I only knew some of the boys at the start of the season and had never been involved in hockey (other than as a spectator ) – so it's been an adventure for all of us! I’ve learnt a lot about the sport from the boys and of course our head coach Neil and I’d like to say a big thank you to all.
Updated 10:31 - 3 Apr 2017 by Mike Rushmere