City of Peterborough Under 16 Boys – Lost on the Moors

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City of Peterborough 1 – 1 Ben Rhydding (Ben Rhydding won 4 – 3 after penalty strokes)  

(Scorer: Cameron Heald – P.C.)

Coach Mike Yeoman couldn’t really have asked for more from the squad in way they had trained and prepared for this crucial match.  The almost perfect build up over the weekend delivered the boys fuelled, fresh and focused to the foot of Ilkley Moor, where Ben Rhydding Hockey Club sits.  Ultimately, though after leading in the game, they were very unlucky to lose out to a disputed umpiring decision and eventually to the lottery of a Penalty Strokes shootout.

In front of a large Ben Rhydding crowd, the City of Peterborough defence retained the ball well in the first few minutes with the Ben Rhydding boys employing a half court press.  Eventually, this cover was sprung and the first early attack came to City, but ended without them managing to achieve a clear cut chance.  Ben Rhydding also moved the ball around competently at the back, but in contrast, the City of Peterborough front two chased constantly trying to force a mistake.

This was the pattern of much of the first half, with neither team creating real openings or chances to score apart from the occasional short corner, where Ben Rhydding shaded the count.  At one of these short corners, Michal Kowalski, in the City goal, made a fine double save to keep out Ben Rhydding, but others came to nothing. 

The half time team talk from Mike Yeoman focused on the balance of the game and the need to be patient.  However, the City boys had other ideas and shot out at Ben Rhydding straight from the whistle.  Soon, they had forced a mistake in the midfield and broke into the D, winning an early short corner.  The injection to Cameron Heald was pushed right to Ben Newman, who slipped the ball back to Cameron who then beat a defender and coolly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper into the corner.  

Ben Rhydding jumped back at City straight from the restart, but pressure was soaked up and the defence coped with much that was taken to them.  The pattern of the game changed for a period at this time, opening up, but it was City of Peterborough that created the clearest chances.  The first when a ball fired across into the D, beat defenders and keeper, but with Ben Newman arriving late from his left wing the ball agonisingly hit his foot before he could sweep it into the goal.  Next, Grady Wing was put though, and he glided across the front of goal, but unfortunately couldn’t get enough on a reverse stick flick to beat the keeper.  The third and eventually the final opportunity for City fell to Leo Davies who turned and shot from near to the top of the D, but didn’t quite get enough power and the Ben Rhydding keeper dived to get a stick to the ball and push it wide.

After failing to capitalise on this period of pressure, Peterborough were pushed back by some strong running on the ball down both flanks from Ben Rhydding.  These resulted in a few half chances and a number of short corners, but despite this it didn’t look like the hard working defence and midfield would be breached.

In the end, the game changing moment started from a mixture of confusion and crowd coercion.   A sideline ball for Ben Rhydding was taken, then the umpire called for it to be retaken from a different place further forward inside the ’25.  As the player moved the ball up, Chris Pepper obviously not realising the hit was to be retaken, stepped forward to challenge, but was blown up by the umpire for delaying the restart.  Confused, he moved away, with the umpire signalling for another free hit, but a “third umpire” in the crowd called for the upgrade to a short corner.  After reconsidering the point, the umpire changed his decision signalling a short corner to the amazement of the City of Peterborough boys.

At the subsequent short corner, a low hard shot was seen to have struck Scott Howard’s foot on the line and the umpire signalled a penalty stroke.  This was well dispatched by the Ben Rhydding forward, who gave Michal Kowalski little chance.

With the feeling of injustice still fresh in mind, the focus for some of the City of Peterborough boys was lost.  The remaining minutes of the game passed though without Ben Rhydding looking likely to convert the pressure into another goal, but with City of Peterborough not making much progress forward at all.  The whistle went for full time and into Penalty Strokes without any further incident, but still with some players upset.

The Penalty Stroke competition went as follows:

  • Matthew Anderson was up first, but had his stroke saved.  Kowalski got a pad to Ben Rhydding’s first stroke but it still found the net (0 – 1).
  • Cameron Heald placed his stroke into the right hand side netting (1 – 1).  A second stroke from Rhydding again had a Kowalski hand half on it before going in (1 – 2).
  • Third up, David Fisher had his stroke superbly saved by the Ben Rhydding keeper, diving low and deflecting wide with his stick.  Michal Kowalski then did what he had threatened to do and saved well to keep Peterborough in it.
  • Ben Newman, still stoked up from the game, fired his high into the net (2 – 2).  Kowalski then repeated the save to keep the scores even after four strokes.
  • Grady Wing, put a fine flick coolly away to pile the pressure back onto Ben Rhydding for the first time in the competition (3 – 2).  Ben Rhydding, then scored the final flick to take the competition to “sudden death” (3 – 3)
  • Captain, Cameron Heald stepped up for City of Peterborough, but had his stroke saved before Ben Rhydding finally won the strokes competition and tie with the final stroke (3 – 4)

The two teams were closely matched and in many ways on the balance of play and skill shown by both, a draw was the fair result.  It is a pity that there had to be a loser in this way, but heads should be held high.  All of the boys in the squad should be immensely proud of their performance today.  Their hard work turned in week after week in training built a team, without doubt good enough to be at the National Finals, but just lacking on luck today.

The City of Peterborough Squad were:

  • Michal Kowlaski (GK)
  • Cameron Heald (captain)
  • Matthew Anderson (vice-captain)
  • Jack Miller
  • Scott Howard
  • Sam Biccarino
  • Ainsley Augustine
  • Ben Newman
  • Chris Pepper
  • David Fisher
  • Grady Wing
  • Ashfat Abdulwahid
  • Leo Davies
  • Sam Barlow
  • Joe Phillips