Crostyx needed to beat top of the group St Albans in their final EH U16s Cup game to qualify for the regional finals, and they didn’t disappoint, putting in their best peformance of the season to preserve their unbeaten record in their group and book a place in the regional finals.
With the game rescheduled from early morning to mid-afternoon to avoid a frozen pitch the Crostyx boys made good use of the extra sleep as they were quickest out of the blocks, winning a penalty corner in the first minute. Crostyx continued to dominate the early stages of the game, and their patient build-up play was finally rewarded when an excellent passing move ended with Sam Mossop scoring a well-struck effort.
Crostyx continued to pass the ball around confidently, making full use of their talented squad, and a second goal soon followed with James Preston slotting past the keeper from a well-worked corner routine.
There was no let-up for St Albans, who soon found themselves even further behind as a quick counter-attack saw Mohad Irfan spin past the keeper only to be clumsily bought down. James Preston showed great composure to score his second and Crostyx’ third from the penalty stroke.
Crostyx continued to dominate the game, and a shot from Felix Murphy hit an opposition player on the line to win a second penalty stroke for the home side. James Preston stepped up again, this time shooting to the opposite side of the goal, sending the St Albans keeper the wrong way and completing his hattrick.
Realising their chances of winning the group were fading, St Albans began to throw more men forward, but some excellent defensive work absorbed the pressure, before a speculative reverse stick effort from Felix Murphy eluded everyone to make it 5-0. St Albans continued to show glimpses of quality, but Crostyx continued to be excellent in every department and reached half time with a well-earned 5-0 lead.
On a cold afternoon the crowd had already been rewarded with an exciting first half, but more drama was yet to come as the St Albans keeper was shown a green card, and Crostyx made full use of the man advantage and empty goal to increase their lead through Ed Fall.
Soon after being restored to 11 men, St Albans got on the scoresheet through an unfortunate own goal. St Albans soon found a second consolation goal as they began to show why they were top of the group going into the game, but any hope of retaining top position disappeared when Ed Fall scored a tap-in at back post after yet another excellent attacking move to make it 7-2 to Crostyx.
St Albans scored late on to make the final score 7-3, but it was a well-earned win for Crostyx to top the group and go through to the next round of the cup!