England Hockey Age Competitions off to a cracking start at Harleston Magpies Hockey Club
England Hockey boys and girls U18, U16 and U14 national competitions all started this Sunday with Harleston Magpies Hockey Club fielding a team in each age group and returning with a fantastic set of results.
At U18 level, teams play a knock out competition with the result from the first match determining whether you progress to a second round in the Cup or Plate competition. Both Magpies teams were drawn against Norwich City. A tough opening draw for any team, nevertheless both teams secured a victory and will progress into the second round of the Under 18 National Cup.
Magpies U18 girls had the more convincing win against their Norwich City counterparts. A 4-0 victory thanks to goals from Mia King, two goals in less than 10 minutes from the start of the match and then Grace Cresswell and Anna Tighe adding further goals to make the half time score 4-0. Norwich looked a much stronger team in the second half, causing Alice Gooch in the Magpies goal to make a number of excellent saves to keep a clean sheet.
Meanwhile Magpies U18 boys were involved in a very competitive match, coming through as 2-0 winners by making the most of the chances they created. They were indebted to their goalkeeper, Will Gravier, for making a number of fine saves, particularly in the first half.
Coach Stuart Peters said: “This was a tough game, against quality opposition. Our work rate was excellent but we need to work really hard on our ball pace in the next round”.
At U16 and U14 level the national Competition consists of a local mini league, before the top two from each group progress to a regional finals day and then national finals weekend. Last season, Magpies girls and boys teams made the regional finals, and wanted to get this season’s league stage off to a flying start but again found stiff competition in their way.
Both U16 teams faced Norwich City. The U16 Girls played away at Norwich coming through a tight encounter with a 3-1 victory. Norwich City opened the scoring from a well worked short corner midway through the first half. In the second half, Magpies had more possession of the ball, and put the result beyond doubt with a beautifully worked goal culminating in Georgie Cantrell playing in Emma Williamson who picked her spot rifling the ball into the bottom left corner.
Magpies U16 Boys came up against a very good Norwich City team. A tough match was expected and so it proved to be. Manager Chris Hall was proud of the boys’ performance saying: ‘Despite the final 6 – nil score line, our Magpies boys played their hearts out, with a very high work rate, and never let their heads drop til the final whistle.’
Away at Ipswich, another strong display from the U14 boys secured a fine win ending in a 9-1 score line against IES. High quality passing and clinical finishing lead to Magpies being 7 – 0 up by half time. An envious position for any coach and manager to be in enabling the management team to use the second half to test players in differing roles and give the wider squad good pitch time. The U14 girls played a friendly at home against Blue Hornets to build up their match time, and also secured convincing wins.
James Smith, Magpies Youth Development Officer was delighted, saying: “After a busy Saturday when all our youngsters and indeed coaches and umpires were involved in league matches it is always challenging to get another six teams out of Sunday. But the desire of our youngsters to play hockey shone through with a full squad of players available in every age group. The U18 teams did particularly well with some high class performances and results. The U16s showed promise with the girls coming thorough a tough opener, but the boys not quite able to match the clubs wider results against Norwich. There is plenty to play for with the top two from each mini league progressing to the Regional finals.’
The next round of matches will be played on 5 November. Final results were:
U18 Girls – Home – Norwich City W 4-0
U16 Girls- Away – Norwich City W 3-1
U18 Boys – Away – Norwich City W 2-0
U16 Boys – Away – Norwich City L 0-6
U14 Boys – Away – IES 1.00pm W 9-1
U14 Girls – Home -Blue Hornets (F) W 5-1
Pictured: Harleston Magpies Boys U18 Squad 2017
Photo credit – Harleston Magpies