Match report for CoP Boys at U16 Regional Finals
City of Peterborough Under 16 Boys travelled to Repton School, home of hosts Belper HC for the Midlands Regional Finals on Sunday 4th March.
They had qualified with a perfect record as winners of their local group, having seen off Harleston, Rutland, Norwich and Pelicans scoring 30 goals on the way over the four matches. The opposition in their four team Regional Finals Pool were Olton & West Warwicks, Oxford and Belper (playing on their home pitch). The format was winner takes all, with only one team from the group qualifying for the National Finals at the end of March.
The schedule for the day looked tough before the boys travelled, but a late change to the schedule meant all the matches were to be played on the water based pitch, an unfamiliar surface to almost all of the City boys. In addition, City of Peterborough were to finish with a “back to back” game against hosts Belper, who had a good spread of fixtures for the day.
Taking all that into account though, Peterborough were still confident that they could carry on their impressive run in the competition and push for a place at the National Finals.
City of Peterborough 2 – Oxford 1
(Cameron Heald – PC, Grady Wing – PC)
City started well, pressing with forwards Ashfat Abdulwahid and Ross Hadaway causing a couple of mistakes from the Oxford back four, but without creating a clear cut chance. Grady Wing linked well with Cameron Heald in the midfield and eventually a couple of short corners were won by the pair, however the excellent Oxford keeper made some good saves to keep the scores level.
Oxford began to get into the game as a few mistakes at the back brought pressure onto the Peterborough defence. Jonathan Lee made a good save when a misplaced pass put Oxford through, but couldn’t do anything to stop an attack a couple of minutes later and City went into the break at 1-nil down.
At the half time team talk, coach Mike Yeoman encouraged the boys to sharpen up all round again and take the game forward, as they had in the first few minutes of the game. This they did, creating a number of good chances with mazy dribbling from Heald and Wing through the midfield, which Oxford struggled to cope with giving away a serious of short corners. Unfortunately, none of these were put away, as a combination of the Oxford keeper and some poor execution left City still trailing.
In the end, the pressure from Peterborough though did get converted into goals. The equaliser came from skipper Cameron Heald who was first to pounce after a short corner save was not cleared away, and he slapped the ball past the keeper.
With less than five minutes on the clock to go, an excellent passing move involving Tom Seaton down the right put Ross Hadaway through into the area, where his stick was tackled before he could cross the ball. Feeling the pressure building and a certain inevitability of what was to come, Oxford’s players and coach were not happy, but neither umpire could see anything other than a short corner to be the correct decision. Unfortunately, their mood was not improved as at the resulting short corner, the first shot from Heald was blocked, but it fell to Grady Wing who smashed the ball into the corner of the goal and put City 2-1 up.
The final few minutes of the game were safely seen off by City, who had deserved the result overall, being the team who created their own chances from good play.
City of Peterborough 2 – Olton & West Warwicks 1
(Cameron Heald – PS, Ross Hadaway – F)
Second game up, City were matched against Olton & West Warwicks who had narrowly lost to Belper in the first game of the day.
It was Olton who started best, causing problems in the City defence with a number of high balls lifted over that City struggled to deal with. They appeared much more comfortable on the water based pitch and took the lead after about 10 minutes, where a good shot beat Jonathan Lee.
Again though, City dug deep and fought back into the game. They started to soak up pressure from Olton at the back and create their own openings going forward. A few minutes before half time, a short corner was won, half cleared but forced back in for Ashfat to deflect the ball towards the goal only for it to hit a defender on the line. Cameron Heald stepped forward as captain to take responsibility for the penalty stroke, and calmly slotted the ball in the corner sending the keeper the wrong way. A few more half chances came to both sides, but 1-1 was the score at half time.
The second half was tight all round, with City of Peterborough having slightly the better chances. It was however a scrappy goal from City that settled it in the last 10 minutes. A short corner was struck towards the goal, half cleared, then hit an Olton foot when the ball looked to be heading over the line. Advantage was played though, and Ross Hadaway reacted first to jab the ball over the line to put City 2-1 ahead.
Peterborough had chances to increase their lead in the final minutes, but were happy to come off again as winners, having come from behind for the second time in the day.
City of Peterborough 0 – Belper 6
City of Peterborough had a quick turnaround to play next up after only a short break from the end of their match against Olton. By contrast, hosts Belper had a longer rest, playing first, third and fifth games on the day. Both teams had won their first two games, and this match was therefore the decider to see the winner on the day and who would qualify for the National Finals. A combination though of some unfortunate injuries, tired legs and fast attacking hockey from Belper settled this game early on.
Chris Neal, who had been solid and dependable at left back throughout the first two games, was injured even before the game started. A ball in the warm up hit him hard on the knee and then bounced up on the side of his face, so he was unable to start. Worse still, Belper scored in the first minute following an attack down the right to go 1-0 up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, skipper Heald pulled up in the second minute, succumbing to the groin injury that he had been carrying all day, but compounded with a hamstring tweak all at the same time. The worst of all first halves was finished as Belper seemed able to score at will, and went into the break 4-0 up, with goals flying in from all angles and at all heights from open play. Injuries to City of Peterborough were running close to the Belper goals tally by half time as the team’s third injury occurred when Sam Biccarino limped off, after being hit on the knee.
At half time, City knew that the game was all but over, but the remaining fit players were determined to keep going. There was nothing to play for but pride, but to the credit of the players, they stuck to their task, tried to play hockey and battled well. It was not long though before the injury list was added to. Ashfat Abdulwahid twisted his ankle and had to come off, so Sam Biccarino returned to the game. Finally the injury tally made five, as a reverse stick shot hit Simon King hard on the shoulder and he felt his shoulder pop out of the socket, then back in(!). Clearly, Simon couldn’t continue, so Mike Yeoman looked to who he had on his bench to step in as cover and Chris Neal to his immense credit took off the ice pack from his knee and ran on to cover at the back again.
In the midst of all the injuries, the whole team and particularly some of the less experienced players (Simon Custance, Tom Astle, Chris Neal and Tom Seaton in particular) stepped up their games. Even with 15 players in the squad, with so many injuries there was no cover available on the bench, so the least injured eleven had to see out the game. Two goals were conceded in the second half, with the final score 0-6, but Jonathan Lee made some good saves and excellent clearances when called on.
The coaching and management team though were so proud of the spirit shown all round in the game. The team came up a little short in the end, but they should all be commended for what they have achieved this season and there is no disgrace in losing to a good team like Belper, who will have a good chance of winning the National Finals when they are played at Cannock at the end of the month.
City of Peterborough Under 16 Team
· Jonathan Lee (GK)
· Cameron Heald (Captain)
· Scott Howard (Vice Captain)
· Ashfat Abdulwahid
· Bob Cliffe
· Chris Neal
· Grady Wing
· Joe Phillips
· Leo Davies
· Ross Hadaway
· Sam Biccarino
· Simon Custance
· Simon King
· Tom Astle
· Tom Seaton
· Mike Yeoman (coach)
· Andrea Howard (assistant coach)
· David Heald (manager)