Harleston Magpies U16 Boys Regional Final
Magpies made the long trek to Canterbury to play Teddington, Old Loughtonians and Canterbury with a place in the national finals at stake.
Teddington 3 – 3 Magpies
Knowing a good start was needed to get the day off on the right tracks Magpies started the game at breath-taking pace pushing their opposition back and creating chance-after-chance. They finally broke the deadlock when Matt Bensly fired home from close range. Alex Kilbourn then added the second, from an acute angle, with a shot that cannoned in off the post. Half-time score was 2-0.
The second half continued in similar vein with more short-corners and shots and, finally, a third goal from Jolyon Summers. Magpies continued to push for goals as Teddington dropped deeper and relying on the long aerial ball to try and launch counter-attacks. Then with 6-minutes remaining and another short-corner to Magpies the tide of the game turned. Magpies missed the target and from the re-start Teddington launched a ball forward, which their centre-forward latched onto, drove into the circle and fired home past keeper Will Graver. Rather than see out the remaining minutes Magpies decided attack was the best option only to concede a second goal from another counter-attack. Unfortunately, lessons not learnt the ball was turned-over again and Teddington grabbed an equaliser. With time running out Magpies could have snatched a late, and deserved winner, but just couldn’t apply the final touch at a short-corner. Final result 3-3, which in the circumstances felt like a defeat.
Old Loughtonians 2 – 2 Magpies
Still smarting from the first game, Magpies knew that only a win would keep them in contention for qualification. Unfortunately, a lack-lustre first half display saw them trailing 1-0 at the half. The team-talk focused on “desire” and commitment” and the team went out determined to put things right.
Magpies started the second half at a much better tempo and an equaliser looked on the cards. Unfortunately, Old Loughtonians made life tricky by scoring a second against the run of play. This galvanised Magpies and Archie Winter scored to narrow the deficit. Archie then scored a fantastic goal, set-up by a reserve-stick cross from Jack Hobbs, which the umpire initially awarded. Unfortunately, the other umpire intervened and following discussion deemed the cross was dangerous and the goal was disallowed. Following post match video analysis, and comments from the various experts watching the game, this decision was felt to be very harsh! Not to be deterred Magpies continued to attack and got the break through with a great finish by Matt Bensly. With time running out Magpies, again, could and should have grabbed a late winner. Final score 2-2.
Canterbury 3 – 1 Magpies
With Canterbury having won both games the final match was a “dead-rubber”. However, Magpies wanted to finish on a high and were determined to put in a good display for their large group of supporters. The 1st half was very evenly balanced with both sides looking composed on the ball and playing excellent passing hockey. Canterbury took the lead only for Archie Winter to level. Half-time score 1-1.
Magpies enjoyed the lion share of possession in the second half with Canterbury happy to sit back and counter-attack when the opportunity arose. The side played some of its best hockey of the day with George Hunt outstanding all game, some excellent attacking play down the right from Kieran Peters, Jake Sewell (who was excellent throughout) working tirelessly in midfield and Archie and Jolyon controlling the midfield. Unfortunately, Canterbury scored a controversial second after a free hit was award but neither umpire actually knowing who for! However, as Magpies looked for guidance from the officials the quick thinking Canterbury forward ran into the circle and scored, which jolted the umpire back into life and the goal was awarded! Magpies, feeling slightly aggrieved, spent the final 10-minutes on the attack but without any success and with defenders pushing forward conceded a 3rd goal on the counter-attack. Final score 3-1. This was the best performance of the day and the score-line didn’t reflect how close the game was.
A big thank-you to the whole squad – all of whom contributed across the three games – and a massive thanks to the travelling army of supporters for a) getting the team to Canterbury in the first place for such an early start and b) for their wholehearted enthusiastic support all day.
Squad: Will Graver (GK), James Harvey (GK), Will Donsworth (C), George Hunt, Cameron Woodcock,Kieran Peters, David Cadman, Will Simpson, Jake Sewell, Archie Winter, Jolyon Summers, Rob Neal, Tom Norton, Alex Kilbourn, Matt Bensly, Jack Hobbs. Other squad members not present Jack Robertson, Josh Mayhew & Jake Caston.