Review of the Season (so far)
CoP are experiencing perhaps their best season ever in terms of results and league positions so far. Based on the recruitment of a few players at first team level and therefore a record number of players being regularly available, competition for places is high and all teams are able to field squads of 14 for most fixtures. Time will tell if this can be translated in the remainder of the season into a number of promotions within the leagues thereby further enhancing the standard of hockey available.
Team League League position
1st XI East Conference – National league 5th of 10
2nd XI East – Premier B 2nd
3rd XI East – Div 1 1st
4th XI East – Div 3NW 2nd
5th XI East – Div 4NW 2nd
6th XI East – Div 4NW 8th
7th XI East – Div 5NW 2nd
8th XI East – Div 6NW(S) 4th
Vets XI East Veterans League 4th
Team League League position
1st XI East – Div 1N 7th
2nd XI East – Div 2NW 8th
3rd XI Cambs – Premier 8th
4th XI Cambs – Div 2 1st
1st XI – This as been an excellent first half of the season for the 1st XI on their return to the National League in what is accepted as the toughest of the regional sections in the second tier of the system. Under the guidance and drive of player coach Gareth Andrew, City have become a difficult side to beat. Although conceding more goals than they would like, City have the ability to score from several areas of the pitch as well as some from set pieces. There has only been one loss by any margin and that was in the first game to the probable winners of this division, Canterbury.
With only 8 games to go and only three of those at home, City seem very capable of obtaining the three wins they need to maintain their status and thereby build for the next season.
2nd XI – After several weeks at the top of the division, City have only relinquished this place after the last match of the pre-Christmas period when they achieved a fine draw away at Ramgarhia (the third place side). Their only sub-standard performance was away against Blueharts, the new leaders. The return match will therefore be all important and manager Paul Evans remains optimistic that a promotion place can be achieved in what has become a three horse race at the top. City have played some excellent flowing hockey so far and as long as they can eliminate the defensive errors that have shown up in one or two games they should achieve their goal. The return of skipper Paul Hillsdon to full fitness after a broken thumb will be important as will be a higher conversion rate for attacking short corners.
3rd XI – Despite a shock home defeat to Pelicans in the last game before the break, City still head the division and are well placed to clinch a second successive promotion under the leadership of evergreen Aggi Milner. His tireless running and skills in midfield along with fellow veteran Shayne Andrews’ goals up front have proved a vital contribution to their current elevated position which surpasses most people’s expectations for the season for the 3rd XI. The combination of youth and experience is most evident in this side and is proving to be something most opposition cannot cope with. Manager Martin Collcott feels sure that his team will be there or there abouts for a promotion place at the end of the season.
4th XI – The combination of new captain Danny Needham’s unique brand of will to win with the experience and single mindedness of Mike Yeoman have driven the 4th XI to a close up second place in this division. Their attempts to give all players a chance in a bid to find the best combination to meet the requirements of this level of hockey have not been to the detriment of results and perhaps with a more settled side after the Christmas break they can maintain their form and clinch a promotion spot. Bourne Deeping 1st XI should be the favourites but City and Spalding 1st XI will be chasing them all the way.
5th XI – Neil Webb’s team have benefitted from the number of players available and his team now includes several who have featured at a higher level for the club. After a stuttering start his side has developed a fine run of results which has seen them rise to an impressive second place in the table. Newmarket will be difficult to catch but City have the talent to obtain the other promotion place.
6th XI – In the same league as the 5th XI, City have competed well and often with a near-veterans team have been unlucky not to gain more points in several games. Skipper Graham Finding remains confident of an improved showing in the second half of the season that could see them rise 2 or 3 places up the table.
7th XI — The performance of this side under the guidance of skipper Rob Houghton and the drive of Nigel Foad at the back is almost the surprise of the season so far. The second place which they deservedly occupy on results achieved thus far greatly exceeds any predictions for them before the season started. The goal scoring ability of Ross Haddaway and Declan Shepherd has served them well and they have given themselves a great chance of occupying a promotion spot at the end of the season.
8th XI – Some of the most impressive performances of the season have come from the 8th team where often only Duncan Seaton in defence is over 15 years old. Manager/captain Peter Leaton finds it extremely difficult to justify giving himself pitch time as the latest crop of youngsters show their skills to great effect in matches which are often against full men’s teams. A measure of their progress is that twice in recent weeks they have held the current leaders of the division to draws and come away disappointed that their greater possession did not produce the wins they thought they deserved. In some matches the only thing missing is that extra physical strength that will eventually come to match the opposition.
Vets XI – This has been a disappointing season so far for the Vets as the East Veterans League seems to be losing a few of the competing teams and therefore despite some friendly fixtures City have only completed 4 league games. Entry into the Vintage Cup for over 50s helped provide two more matches and the over 40s team is still going strong in the Veterans Cup and now face a home fixture Vs Reading on February 19th 2012 in the 4th round.
1st XI – Under the coaching guidance of Helen Birch, City Ladies have acquitted themselves very well after last season’s promotion. The only problem is a certain amount of inconsistency in performance, reaching great heights one week only to disappoint the next. The side is a good combination of experience and talented youth who grow stronger game by game. The feeling is that if the team only believed in itself more and their ability to play a high tempo game they would deal much more comfortably with the lesser teams in this division. However, this a promising first half of the season and if they can find a few more goals a top half finish is likely.
2nd XI – With Lynn Tancred having her first taste of captaincy, City have competed well and are comfortably clear of any relegation worries. The commitment of the senior players Sue McNaughton and Jane Bunney sets an example to the youngsters and they can all look forward to a productive and enjoyable second half of the season and a respectable final league position.
3rd XI – This is one side in the whole club which faces a hard fight against relegation. They are finding it tough to compete in the Cambs Premier Division after a somewhat unexpected promotion last season. An injury to skipper Andrea Howard has not helped but they are still not far behind the two teams just above them and good performances against those teams could mean a much needed rise up the table.
4th XI – Much to the pleasure of captain Mary Gregory-Smith and her faithful lieutenant Sue Drake, this nearly new set of youngsters have taken this division by storm and are clear leaders having only been held to a draw in one game so far. As long as call ups to the 3rd XI do not affect their line up too much, they would appear to be very strong favourites to take the title.
The Men’s 1st XI reached the last 16 before losing an away tie at Bromley & Beckenham with a below strength team and the Ladies found Basingstoke Ladies too strong in a home tie.
As stated above the Vets over 40 team are still going strong after their triumph in the Plate competition last season and now face a Reading side in the 4th round of unknown quality as they have received two byes so far.
The U14 and U16 boys’ teams still hold high hopes of further progress with games still to come on a “round robin” basis during the early stages.
Indoors both the Boys U16 and U18 sides have performed magnificently to emerge as East Champions ands face the national rounds in January which will stretch our playing resources with league games scheduled for those weekends.