Match Reports

Jersey Hockey U16 Boys National Championships Tier 2 Regionals

Venue: Astro at Marlow HC, Bucks

Date: Sunday, 05 March 2017

Clubs: Jersey, Cheltenham, Plymouth, Marlow

Having successfully qualified for the Tier 2 Regional round following excellent displays and results from a tough West Cluster League, Rathbones Jersey Hockey’s U16s Boys headed off to host club Marlow to play in the Regional Round – one step away from the National Finals weekend at Lee Valley in April.

Jersey were pitted against three other qualifying clubs from the West Regional Leagues, to play against each other in a round robin format over one day. The three matches over a shorter time than normal would produce one winner who would go to Lee Valley. Jersey’s boys were one good day away from having a chance to become National Champions.

Coaches Bill Aston and Dom Pallot had prepared the team, asking them to specifically focus on composure, ball control and working as a team. This year’s U16s squad was quite young and the three matches against Plymouth and League winners Cheltenham and hosts Marlow were going to be tough.

Jersey 2, Plymouth 4

Jersey looked to start fast and immediately the hard working Jersey midfielder Adam Gower broke into the Plymouth D and rounded the keeper but the ball squirted to safety. Plymouth broke straight back causing a dangerous overload which led to a goal bound shot being stopped illegally on the line. Plymouth converted their penalty stroke efficiently to take the lead. Plymouth settled quickly and the Jersey coaches switched formation to try and nullify the threat of the opposition’s skilful attacking central midfielder.

Going into the second half one goal down, Jersey needed to score next but halfway through the half an excellent Plymouth move along the Jersey back line saw the cross converted and Plymouth led 2-0. Jersey fought back hard and won some penalty corners, one of which was converted when injector Jack Le Bihan pounced on the loose ball to score. Plymouth restored their two goal cushion when their start player broke through and beat Piers Brandie in the Jersey goal with a high strike.

With five minutes remaining a nice Jersey long corner routine found Robbie Forrest near the top of the D. The defence backed off and Forrest drove into the D and buried an early strong low shot into the bottom right corner. Jersey fought hard for the deserved equaliser but in the last minute Plymouth won the ball and broke away, and their experienced midfielder drove into the Jersey D and gave Brandie no chance with another lifted shot.

Marlow 5, Jersey 3

Both teams had lost their opening fixtures and so the outcome of this game was very important to either team’s chances of progressing. Marlow had beaten Guernsey 6-2 in their League match so Jersey were prepared for a hard game. In the first attack of the game, Marlow engineered a shot from the top of the D. The mishit shot dribbled through a crowded D and wrong-footed the unsighted Brandie. Jersey fought back with Tom Bolton and Jacob Bell working well in midfield to provide an excellent through ball to Rhys Thomas who cleverly controlled the ball around the diving keeper and slotted into an empty net.

Marlow were starting to dominate possession but Jersey were competing well with Xav Barette and Chris Carnegie in the Jersey defence making important tackles and distributing the ball well to wide players Toby Treharne and Jamie Watling. Marlow then scored two quick goals – one from open play when a reverse stick cross was deflected in and then from a short corner their striker powered home a high drag flick.

Just before half time Jersey were looking for a lift back into the game and attacked down the left. Gower found Bolton who charged into the D. His shot was well saved by the Marlow keeper but the ball deflected up and Jersey’s Will Wycherley was on hand at the far post to skilfully sway the ball into the goal from above his head.

One goal behind at half time, Jersey knew that they needed to score at least twice to win the goal and keep their Nationals Finals dreams alive. But it was not to be…..right at the start of the second half Marlow won a short corner and their drag-flicker sent a very strong flick into the opposite top corner from his first attempt. The theme within this year’s Jersey team is they never give up and immediately got one back. Gower drove well into the D and his deflected shot was again smashed into the goal in mid-air by Wycherley. Jersey still had time to win the match but Marlow were solid and scored again from another drag flick from a short corner to lead 5-3. In the final minutes, Jersey’s Jack Harben had a close range effort saved bravely by the Marlow keeper but as Jersey pushed hard for goals there were exposed to counter attacks. Brandie was not going to be beaten though and made two excellent saves to thwart Marlow attacks as the final whistle went.

Cheltenham 4, Jersey 0

In wet and windy conditions, up against a very strong Cheltenham team who had won their first two matches (they had beaten Plymouth 8-1) and knowing that it was now impossible to qualify, the Jersey team could easily have found it hard to be motivated. Jersey Captain Henry Dowling, who had led by example all day, called for one last effort to end the day on a positive note.

Jersey played Cheltenham really hard all game and it was their best performance of the day as a team. They tackled hard, broke down the Cheltenham press with better ball speed and movement and gave the opposition a really tough game, which the final score-line did not fairly reflect.

Towards the end of a very competitive first half, Cheltenham scored three very quick goals, two of which were very good pieces of hockey. In the second half, Jersey continued to compete well and failed to take a couple of excellent chances and Cheltenham caught the defence out late with a breakaway.

Jersey’s young U16s had fought hard through 3 tough games against excellent opposition and had lost out in two close games and had played really well against the best team in the Pool. Whilst disappointed, the boys will have learned loads from the experience and to see what it takes to compete and win at this next level up. The future is good for next year, when the majority the squad will have this experience behind them in their hockey development.

Coaches: Dom Pallot, Bill Aston, Paul Le Bihan & Simon Watling

Squad:

  • Henry Dowling (Cap)
  • Chris Carnegie
  • Jacob Bell
  • Jamie Watling
  • Piers Brandie (GK)
  • Adam Gower
  • Jack Le Bihan
  • Will Wycherley
  • Tom Bolton
  • Jack Harben
  • Rhys Thomas
  • Chris Thomas
  • Xav Barette
  • Tom Heelis
  • Toby Treharne
  • Robbie Forrest

Coaches Quotes:

Bill Aston

“Whilst the results were not all we were hoping for, it has been a great adventure for both our boys and the coaches. It was an invaluable experience for the guys, showing them the level of hockey they will be able to achieve with the right application and this will have given them plenty of motivation.”

Dom Pallot

“It was a tough day against good opposition but this year the boys overall have punched above their weight and the experience that they have gleaned from the Regionals on Sunday will stand them in good stead. Next year, a good number of the squad will return stronger and ready for that challenge.”