CoP Under 18s – Unflappable, unbeatable, unstoppable!
The City of Peterborough Boys travelled to the University of Essex in Colchester on Sunday 18th December for the East Indoor Hockey Championships.
East Under 18 Champions for the last two years and previous National Club Champions at this age
|Harleston Magpies||Last years Under 16 East Champions (all moving up)|
|St Albans||Hertfordshire Champions|
City of Peterborough 5 – Rutland 1
Marcus Howard 3, David Fisher 1, Nathan Foad 1
City of Peterborough started solidly against Rutland and rarely looked threatened throughout the game.
Marcus Howard slotted an early short corner away with a low shot to settle the nerves, but it was not until the eighth minute that the City boys’ superior skills and indoor experience were turned into more goals. It was then that the pressure and running of the starting front two was turned into goals. Three times in just over a minute City managed to intercept or steal balls in the Rutland half and finished the half chances with goals from David Fisher,
Howard again and Nathan Foad. At 4-nil up, the game was then effectively won at half time.
The second half was more even, but Rutland rarely looked likely to open up the City of Peterborough defence. It took a good high drag flick from Rutland at a penalty corner to give them slim hopes of a comeback, but with a minute to go Marcus Howard fired in another low penalty corner shot.
A confident start from the Peterborough boys, with all the squad getting some early pitch time, but knowing there were tougher tests to come.
City of Peterborough 6 – Old Loughtonians 4
Marcus Howard 2, David Fisher 2, Chris Pepper, Jordan Heald
A cracking game, made all the more exciting in fact by umpiring that both teams and benches were unhappy at different times in the match.
Old Loughtonians started well, moving the ball around at high pace around the back, but without much joy in getting through the always solid Peterborough defence. They opened the scoring though on five minutes, after a rare lapse of concentration allowed the ball to be drilled unchallenged straight into the area for the Lought’s striker to deflect into the goal.
This stung the City boys into action though and within a couple of minutes, Chris Pepper had put them back level after being fed in by Marcus Howard. A minute later, and before Old Loughtonians had really recovered, David Fisher made it 2-1 to City after stealing the ball up front and finishing well. Next, Howard picked up a ball in his own half, danced through the midfield, into the area and shot low past the keeper to make it 3-1 at half time with Old Loughtonians absolutely shell-shocked.
The second half started just as well for City, as Captain Jordan Heald found David Fisher in the area with a long accurate pass from the back. As the Old Loughtonian defender smashed into the back of Fisher, the umpires pointed for a short corner, but David just turned and drove the ball low under the keeper. At 4-1 up now, City of Peterborough were cruising and the next couple of minutes went by without too much incident.
With five minutes to go though, it appeared that the umpires decided to even up the match and increase the excitement for the large band of supporters from Essex. Jordan Heald was adjudged to foul an Old Lought’s forward just before he went into the area, and inexplicably the umpire decided not only to upgrade to a penalty corner, but to give a yellow to the City Captain. From the resultant corner, Nathan Stephenson made a good save from the first
shot, but from the rebound a cheeky lob fell into the goal to make the score 4-2. In the next one and a half minutes, Peterborough had another three penalty corners awarded against them, with two of these being expertly dragged into the goal to even the scores at 4-all.
With the scores level, the suspension for Heald ran out and he stepped back onto the pitch, but with Porter and Houghton already on the pitch and at the back, coach Mike Yeoman directed his captain to have a run up front. With numbers level again, it was not so easy for Old Loughtonians to penetrate the City defence, but with a solid defender in Heald also harrowing them at the back, everything suddenly became more difficult. A poor decision from the Old Loughtonian left defender to try to take Heald on down his strong side resulted in a strong tackle from him in the midfield, then Heald played round the player off the board and ran towards the goal, shooting low into the corner with a strikers’ finish.
At 5-4 up, City with Heald moving back to defence, were resolute in defence and kept the ball well when in possession. As time ticked away Loughts didn’t look like equalising, but Peterborough won a late penalty corner. This was slipped to Marcus Howard, who slung the ball low into the goal to effectively end the game at 6-4.
The Old Loughtonian team clearly felt they were close to getting a result, but City knew that with the exception of the 2 minutes when Captain Jordan Heald was suspended, City had won this game 6-1, and felt it was a deserved win.
City of Peterborough 6 – Sudbury 1
Marcus Howard 2, Nathan Foad, Alessandro Vardaro, Chris Pepper, David Fisher
Sudbury came into this game without having a point from their first two games. City of Peterborough had two wins from two games, and were therefore confident of making it three out of three.
It was not long before pressure from the City forwards and midfield had caused Sudbury to turn over the ball to them. Marcus Howard picked up the intercepted ball, drove into the area and finished coolly with a shot into the corner. With all the forwards rotating, running hard and getting into good positions, the next two goals came from excellent team indoor hockey. The ball was moved at speed from the back to the midfield, then crosses fired wide of the keeper were finished at the far post, first by Nathan Foad, then by Alessandro Vardaro for the third.
City were 3-nil up at half time and all players in the large squad had been on the pitch. More of the same was needed for the second half and the squad didn’t disappoint. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, another ball had been poached in the midfield and Chris Pepper shot Peterborough 4-0 ahead.
The next goal came from the first and almost only piece of sloppy play all day from the City team. The always reliable Ainsley Augustine, under pressure at the back slipped the ball across the Peterborough “D”, rather than pushing the ball safely down the boards. Unfortunately, the Sudbury forward intercepted and pushed the ball quickly past Nathan Stephenson in the City goal.
As they had done on numerous occasions during the day though, Peterborough reacted in the best possible way and hit back immediately after conceding. David Fisher got the reward for all his running and added a goal from free play to make it 5-1. Minutes later, another Marcus Howard low shot from a short corner finished the game at 6-1.
City of Peterborough 2 – Harleston Magpies 0
Marcus Howard 2
Both teams went into this game with three wins, knowing that one more win from either of their two remaining games was enough to qualify for the National Finals. Harleston before the match seemed happy to take a draw, but City of Peterborough knew this was the game where they wanted to prove just how good they were, so a win and a clear win was what they were after.
The pattern of this game was long periods of pressure from Harleston Magpies, but without ever really getting into dangerous positions. Matt Porter was rock solid at the back and Jordan Heald was cool as ice on the ball and in the tackle. With Marcus Howard giving an extra level of protection in front, everything was soaked up by City at the back, and occasionally they were able to create their own half chances to score at the other end.
On eight minutes, Marcus Howard found space in the middle from a pass from Heald, dribbled past a couple of players, cut into the area and fired the ball into the goal. This was no more than City deserved and with the score 1-0 at half time, with no chances given away, coach Mike Yeoman urged more of the same discipline and effort for the second half.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Incredibly, Harleston in the whole game never even looked like winning a short corner, and Nathan Stephenson was only occasionally called upon to make a half save. The defensive pairing of Porter and Heald were a class act and never under pressure. As Magpies became more desperate to try to open the defence, the full team held out, working tirelessly in all areas of the pitch.
With all threats nullified, it was City through Adam Wilson late in the second half that looked likely to spring something. With less than a minute to go, Adam was urged from the bench to retain the ball and he jinked across the pitch, drawing defenders, then spotted Howard free in the area. A nicely slotted pass was then collected by Howard, who drilled the ball past the keeper to the loud cheers of all the supporters watching from the balcony.
This 2-nil result was enough to mean City were through to the Nationals again, but probably needed another point to win the title.
City of Peterborough 5 – St Albans 1
Adam Wilson 2, Marcus Howard, Joe Houghton, Nathan Foad
Results in the preceding games had gone City of Peterborough’s way entirely. With Harleston Magpies drawing their final game and Old Loughtonians dropping more points, they took to the pitch knowing that they had already won the title. The goal for the squad though was to go through unbeaten and with a 100% record, winning all their games.
It was not long before Marcus Howard had planted another short corner goal, this time with a high finish in the third minute. To the credit of St Albans though they fought back and a couple of minutes later had equalised with their own short corner goal. As they had done so many times in the day, conceding a goal just pushed Peterborough into a rapid response. City went straight down the other end, won a short corner and Nathan Foad deflected the ball high into the goal.
With the score 2-1 at half time the squad knew the job was partly done, but they had to just concentrate on all the things they had done so well all day. Straight from the restart, City had intercepted a pass and Adam Wilson got his first goal of the day, slamming the ball hard past the advancing keeper. Joe Houghton next got a deserved short corner goal, firing the ball high into the net for City to lead 4-1.
At this stage, it was not clear what had happened, but the St Albans keeper clearly had a significant disagreement with the umpires that resulted in him being suspended for a couple of minutes. With no substitute goalkeeper, St Albans played on with just the five outfield players, but Adam Wilson was soon set free again and was able to push the ball into an empty goal to make it 5-1.
The keeper soon returned and the remaining minutes ebbed away without too many chances, but as the final buzzer went City of Peterborough knew they had gone through the whole competition winning five out of five and played some sparkling indoor hockey.
City of Peterborough Squad
- Nathan Stephenson (GK)
- Jordan Heald (Captain)
- Adam Wilson
- Ainsley Augustine
- Alessandro Vardaro
- Chris Pepper
- David Fisher
- Joe Houghton
- Marcus Howard
- Matt Porter
- Nathan Foad
City of Peterborough can be seen in their brand new shirts provided by sponsors Magic Lamp Studios*.
Back Row (Left to Right) – Alessandro Vardaro, Chris Pepper, Ainsley Augustine, Nathan Foad, Marcus Howard, Mike Yeoman (coach)
Front Row (Left to Right) – Jordan Heald (Captain), David Fisher, Matt Porter, Nathan Stephenson, Joe Houghton,Adam Wilson
* Magic Lamp Studios owner Angelo Bod has kindly provided funds to enable the City of Peterborough Junior Section to buy four full sets of hockey shirts to be used for all junior boys’ teams aged from 11 to 18. This is a significant asset now for the club and ensures that all the junior boys’ teams will be smartly kitted out for a number of seasons.