U12 BOYS WIN EAST CLUB FINALS
On a cloudy wet morning Magpies U12’s boys started the day knowing they were carrying the title of ‘underdogs’ in a challenging half of the draw including Cambridge, St Albans, IES and Old Loughtonians. The first game was against Cambridge and it was fairly evenly contested affair, ending in a 0-0 draw. Not much to report other than the team had made a confident start and didn’t look out of place having managed to trouble Cambridge and threaten on a few occasions.
Magpies immediately turned round for their second game against St Albans. With confidence gained from their all-round performance against Cambridge, Pies were soon getting on top of a weaker St Albans. After two earlier short corners Captain Ed Brice found his range and converted his third to give the home side a deserved 1-0 half time lead, which could have been more but for the excellent work by the St Albans keeper. In the second half Magpies managed to score a second courtesy of Oli Mayhew breaking away and jinking round the keeper to slot home. Final score 2-0 Magpies. Whilst the lads had left a few more goals out on the pitch the management team of Larkin, Emms and Robertson would have taken 4 points from 2 games before the start of the day, and took the lads confidently into a break between games.
Game 3 was another big game against Old Loughtonians and this was much like the opening game against Cambridge. The home side were working hard, keeping good shape with Freddie Herschel-Shorland controlling midfield, Oli Mayhew working up front to cut out the pass, Ed Brice and Elliot Cooper keeping any Old Lought’s breakaways under control in defence. Elliot Chapman in goal was starting to make some great saves, controlling his D and didn’t look like he intended to start conceding any time soon. Magpies were starting to roll on subs, Bruce Daniels playing solidly at the back and Ben Waters making an impact on the right wing by driving into the D. The game finished 0-0 and with 5 points from a possible 9 and no goals conceded Pies went into another break and chance to talk about what was going well.
Magpies started their last group game against IES knowing that with a lack of goals so far a draw was unlikely to be enough to progress, and a win was required to move into the semi-
finals. Pies wasted no time and went on the attack from the start, Mayhew soon latching onto a through pass from FH-S and slotting into the corner. IES were given no chance to regroup and good work down the wing from Oli Currie led to Mayhew quickly making the score 2-0. Just before half time Sam Emms joined in picking up on another FH-S pass to dribble round two defenders and round the IES keeper to make it 3-0 at half time. In the second half Matty Nesling quickly made an impact up-front latching onto another FH-S through pass to drive into the D, and thread a nice goal past the IES keeper. The game finished 4-0 and Magpies went into a long break excited by managing to escape their group.
Magpies lined up against a confident Blue Hornets team in the semi-final. A tough assignment ahead as Hornets hadn’t lost a game or conceded a goal on their way to amassing a massive plus goal difference in their group. Pies started confidently and were competing well one to one, soon forcing a short corner which alerted Hornets into knowing this would be a contest. However this just served to sting the Hornets into life and they quickly fought back and scored a breakaway goal to make the score 1-0. Pies didn’t buckle and immediately took control from the push back with FH-S, Brice and Emms soon moving the ball to Mayhew who calmly levelled to make the score 1-1 and send the home crowd wild. On the half time bell Hornets won a short corner, which was clinically converted to knock Pies back to 2-1 down at half time.
After a rallying team talk Pies began their fight back and after continuous pressure won a short corner. Brice’s strike was saved and after some tortuous rebounds Sam Emms nipped in to ‘nutmeg’ the keeper bringing it level at 2-2 and once again sending the home crowd to another level! Hornets continued to push for a winner but Chapman was not going to be beaten again, leaping high to his left to palm a great effort over the crossbar. Pies pulled together and dug deep to hang on for the final 2 mins to keep the final score 2-2 and take it to the dreaded penalty flicks.
Emms bravely stepped up for flick 1, but the GK guessed right and made a good save. Hornets first flick was low in the bottom corner but Chapman almost reached it, 0-1. Captain Brice then stepped up for flick 2 and scored, 1-1. Chapman guessed right for Hornets second flick and kept Pies in it with a great save, still 1-1. Mayhew stepped up for flick 3 and confidently found the corner, Pies 2-1. The pressure was now back on Hornets with their last flick to level it, again Chapman saved, Pies win 2-1, cue crowd and pitch celebrations young and old and into the final!
After a break and coming to terms with knowing they had now qualified for the national finals the team took to the pitch for the final which was back against Old Loughtonians. The emotion of the semi had taken its toll and the boys struggled to keep in the game in the first half, conceding a good goal midway through and going into half time 1-0 down. After a positive team talk and knowing they had nothing to lose the team regained possession and territory in the second half. A number of chances being narrowly missed it looked like a runners up spot would be a great reward for an excellent tournament. However after a final push FH-S played Emms into the D who realising he couldn’t score and calmly upgraded to a short corner, and then the final bell went. The whole team pushed up for the last play of the game, Emms injecting smoothly to Brice who one touched into the D and crashed the bottom corner to level at 2-2 and take the game to penalty flicks (again!). Cue massive celebrations and more confident Magpies having faced this in the semi.
Chapman was straight into goal to face flick 1 which he quickly saved. Brice stepped up to take flick 2 and calmly dispatched into the corner, Pies 1-0. Lought’s faced Chapman again for flick 3, same result saved! Mayhew now stepped forward for what was only flick 4 and a possible chance of winning the game. His shot went straight at the keeper and somehow through his legs! Magpies 2-0 WIN, cue wild celebrations throughout the club! (Sincere commiserations to Old Loughtonians who played the game in a great spirit and came a narrow second).
The boys will now go onto the national finals in Nottingham (Beeston HC) on 14th May together with Old Loughtonians to represent the Eastern region.
Thanks to many including inspirational coaching today by Larky, encouragement from Jack, Monday night coaching from Matt, Blake, Bardy, Dolly et Al, and all the volunteers at the club who have made this weekend possible by giving up their free time and energy.