City boys are runners up in National Final
City of Peterborough boys put in a great performance at the England Hockey National U18 Finals.
The large travelling support from the club were proud of the whole squad, who without doubt now can call themselves one of the top two teams in the country.
The City lads achieved the best ever result for the boys in what has been a golden period of Junior hockey, surpassing even the 4th place Nationals finish from the 2008 under 15 team. Ever present since then in this run of regular appearances in the latter stages of the National Junior competitions have been Scott Howard, Cameron Heald and Grady Wing. All three retire now from Junior hockey with their best ever result. A nice way to finish.
It would however be wrong to focus on a few players, as this result this year has been a team effort. From the reserve goalkeeper Ieuan Williams, the excellent keeper Hardwick, through the rest of the defence Howard, Marshall-Grint, Phillips, Biccarino, Davies these lads have been rocks. The midfield made up of Heald, Wing, Seaton, Neal, Astle, MacDonald and Bowden have been creative when needed, but tenacious cover at the back too. The goals have come for Abdulwahid and Allen, but in a team that defends from the front, their pressing work was essential too.
EH Cup Semi-final: City of Peterborough U18s 2-1 Belper U18s
(Louis Bowden, Cameron Heald)
City pressed hard from the start, and very early on forced a turnover. That saw Abdulwahid steal the ball, and find himself free with just the Belper keeper to beat. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get a shot away and the defence scrambled the ball away.
Belper then came into the game more but City withstood that pressure, with saves from Alex Hardwick in goal, and good defence from the rest of the back four.
The scoring was opened when Cam Heald threw a relatively hopeful aerial ball over the Belper defence for the rapid Louis Bowden. All the credit though must go to Bowden who brought down the difficult bouncing ball, then volleyed it past the keeper.
City kept the lead for a while, but Belper equalised before half time with a short corner. The City postman Howard felt he maybe could have done a bit better to block the shot, but the angled ball agonisingly slipped in.
At 1-1 at half time, coaches Hillsdon and Foad were pleased with the effort and pressing, and just asked the team to continue that. One half of hockey stood between the boys and a National Final, and the team that wanted it most, would take it.
Into the second half, City continued to battle all over the pitch. In pairs, and sometimes threes when needed, they shut down raiding runs from the dangerous Belper midfield and forwards.
At the other end, Connor Allen and Ashfat Abdulwahid were causing problems for the Belper defence, and City began to link passes together in the midfield.
City’s second goal came from a superb team move. Three or four passes were strung together, eventually setting Tom MacDonald free to run round the covering defence and into the D. MacDonald then cooly dropped the ball back for Cam Heald, who picked it up, took a couple more strides towards the goal and flicked the ball high into the net for a 2-1 lead.
With time running down, City withstood immense pressure as Belper desperately strived for an equaliser. They couldn’t create any clear chances though and at the final whistle the City boys celebrated a deserved win.
EH Cup Final
City of Peterborough U18s 0 – 5 Team Bath U18s
City were effectively beaten by three early goals in the first 15 minutes.
There were two super goals from short corners, plus a disputed penalty stroke, but on the balance of possession, this was a fair scoreline.
Coach Hillsdon made a tactical change at this stage to put another player into the midfield, going to three at the back. This, plus the boys raising their game significantly evened up the match.
Over the rest of the game, although City were starved of possession, they gave everything in defence. Time after time they repelled waves of Bath attacks, but they conceded a breakaway goal and another short corner in the second half.
On the day, Team Bath were better all round and deserved their victory. City though, had their heads held very high as they had finished 2nd in the biggest of all the national junior championships.
The City Squad were:
- Alex Hardwick (GK)
- Sam Biccarino
- Jacob Marshall-Grint
- Tom MacDonald
- Ollie Davies
- Louis Bowden
- Connor Allen
- Grady Wing
- Tom Seaton
- Cameron Heald (captain)
- Ashfat Abdulwahid
- Tom Astle
- Joe Phillips
- Scott Howard (vice captain)
- Chris Neal
- Ieuan Williams (reserve GK)
The support staff were:
- Paul Hillsdon (coach)
- Nathan Foad (assistant coach)
- David Heald (team manager)