Pool B Day 1
Bowdon v Surbiton
It was with a healthy respect a young Bowdon U16 Boys Team stepped onto the astro at Wakefield to face Surbiton for their first pool game in the England Hockey National Clubs Finals. A tough first match in any competition. The pace was high from the off with Bowdon settling first to take a controlled and commanding hold over the game, with the Surbiton side seeming unable to break out of mid field. After thirteen minutes of continual Bowdon pressure, Surbiton conceded a penalty corner. A sharp injection left the Surbiton defence out paced by a fantastic shot from Michael Greenwood who thumped the ball home to a roar from the stands 1-0. The rest of the first half was tense as Bowdon continued to dominate the game but could not add to the score sheet.
The second half started with Surbiton coming out strong, Bowdon rode the pressure, led by Michael Bellin and Owen Hamnett, and again made it into attacking spaces. As the second half continued the Surbiton team began to increase the pressure finding ways into the Bowdon D, to no avail, thanks to some subline tackling by Joel Dennison. In the forty sixth minute a yellow card to a Bowdon player for a foul in the D and a penalty stroke was awarded. Olly Witts of Surbiton stepped up to face the keeper, the shot went waist high and right hitting off the Will’s stick looking like it would go over the cross bar but just hitting the underside of the crossbar coming down in the net (1-1). This did not phase the Bowdon team and they just dug deeper and continued to push. The clock running out before any change in the score 1-1.
Bowdon v ISCA
Game two on Saturday was against Exeter based ISCA Hockey Club. Bowdon had taken the time to recover from the earlier match and were more than ready to get the job done. From the off the Bowdon side looked the stronger and more organised team. It took just eight minutes for Joe Brookes to find the back of the net 1–0. The response from this was some fast end to end hockey, but again the solid Bowdon midfield and defence broke up these attacks. The pace of play left ISCA exposed as they pushed higher and higher. Then as we approached half time Bowdon got behind the ISCA defence and in the twenty-fourth minute slotted home a second goal, Freddie Bell doing the honours in style 2-0. With the clock running down in the first half, Bowdon broke free again with some lovely passing by Ben Robinson setting up Nick Barclay to make it 3-0. With three minutes of the first half to go it was only some outstanding defensive work by the ISCA keeper and defence that stopped Bowdon scoring again. The second half started with Bowdon facing a rejuvenated ISCA side, again getting in to some scoring positions. It took some determined defending from the whole Bowdon team, jumping back on the brake to defend and providing outlets for when the defence retrieved the ball. It was such a move that freed the Bowdon attack to make some decisive cutting runs into the ISCA D. Ibrahim Omar picking up one such ball and carving, with his amazing agility, round stranded defenders before driving into the D and calmly popping the ball into the back of the net 4–0. Lots of teams at this point would have crumbled but not the ISCA boys, they dug deep and kept pushing again getting a bit high
when the Bowdon defence were able to slide the ball out to Jude Furnivall who had anticipated the pass and started his run. Hitting the static ISCA defence he was not going to be denied, drawing the ISCA keeper before striking the ball on the reverse to score in the forty sixth minute 5–0. The last few minutes saw Bowdon press again and again, the ISCA boys still competing for every ball until the final whistle. What a great performance by Bowdon.
Pool B Day 2
Bowdon v Old Loughtonians
After a decent night’s sleep, Bowdon faced Old Loughtonians another tough challenge but one the team were clearly up for. The Old Loughtonians came out strong from the start and it took Bowdon a few nervous minutes before they could exert their control over the midfield and push towards attacking positions. This resulted in a defensive mix-up in the Old Loughtonians D and the award of a penalty corner. The injection snapped in and the Old Loughtonians were off the line fast but the ball was slipped to Michael Greenwood fooling the defence and giving Michael the room to drive a screamer into the back of the net 1–0, just eight minutes in. This brought on a concerted period of play from Old Loughtonians resulting in the nineteenth minute a ball hitting a foot in the Bowdon D and the award of a penalty corner, step up Max Gardner of Old Loughtonians to clean up the rebounded shot coming off the keeper. The first half ending even at 1-1.
Spurred on by this the second half started with Bowdon battling to make inroads into the Old
Loughtonians defence, but then just two minutes in a gap opened up and Ted Graves was through it and his silky ball control drew one then two of the defenders into errors, just the keeper to go and Ted slotted the ball home with the composure of a much older player 2-1.
Old Loughtonians were by no means going to roll over, they organised attack after attack, only an amazing save followed by a second equally stunning reaction save by the keeper, followed by a goal line clearance from Cole Pidcock keeping it at 2-1. The Old Loughtonians mounted solid attacks built off at times an impenetrable defence. Eventually the Bowdon pressure took its toll unsettling the Old Loughtonians defence leading to a penalty corner in the fiftieth minute. This time the Bowdon injection found Michael Greenwood who dragged flicked the ball into the net making it 3-1.
This would have killed many a game off but not this one, Old Loughtonians were not out of it yet and they came back again and again, their attacks floundering on a solid and organised Bowdon defence. Full time 3-1 win.
Instantly all thoughts turned to the other Pool B game in which Surbiton were playing ISCA. If
Surbiton outscored Bowdon the boys would miss out on the final on goal difference. Sometimes the stars align and although Surbiton won their game they did not score enough. Bowdon would face Fareham in the final.
Bowdon v Fareham
As the boys walked out onto pitch one, the thoughts firmly on the players’ minds was to win the final. So that was the plan however the first few minutes of play saw Fareham take control driving deep into the Bowdon half before the Bowdon defence could break up the attacks. Just six minutes in and Fareham found a Bowdon foot in the D and were awarded a penalty corner which was fired just inside the post 1-0. Bowdon regrouped and responded in the eleventh minute by playing a simple selfless passing game, which set Jude Furnivall free to draw the last defender and slot the ball past the stranded Fareham keeper 1-1. From the restart Bowdon broke up the attack and again some effective and timely passing set Jude Furnivall free in an almost identical situation, again Jude was up to the task and with just thirteen minutes played Jude scored his second 2-1. The game settled down into a contest of the
midfields, both sides struggling to find a way through, round or over each other. On the stroke of half time Fareham were awarded a penalty corner. The hooter sounded for the end of the half enabling Fareham to bring everyone up to take the corner, sheer numbers swinging the balance and the ball was threaded in for a goal 2-2 at half time.
Bowdon knew it was now or never to take control of the second half and it took just four minutes of concerted effort for the pressure to tell, with the award of a penalty corner. Could Michael Greenwood make it a hat trick of penalty corner goals in the finals? Yes he could 3-2. Fareham were not done; they came again and again only to be beaten back by the Bowdon defence. Then on the brake, a clearance pass sent from midfield set Joe Brookes free to take the ball to the base line and bring it to the near post from where he scored 4-2 with ten nervous minutes to go. But that resolute defence which had been the back bone of the team held fast. On the final hooter the joy of victory slowly spread across the teams faces.
An outstanding achievement for the team with no fewer than seven boys scoring thirteen goals in the finals weekend and conceding only four goals all weekend.
Head coach Justin Pidcock ably assisted by manager Di Bellin said “the squad displayed great
qualities of consistency, resilience, courage – not to mention a great deal of skill and professionalism throughout the entire weekend. For many of them this will have been their first experience of a national tournament and they should be very proud of their achievements as a squad – a real credit to the great traditions of Bowdon hockey. Also worthy of mention was the invaluable support as ever from an enthusiastic bunch of excited parents”.
Team: Michael Bellin (Captain), Ben Robinson (V.Captain), Owen Hamnett, Michael Greenwood, Will Gibbon, Joe Brookes, Matthew Duffield, Ibbi Omar, Cole Pidcock, Joel Dennison, Jude Furnivall, Ted Greves, Freddie Bell, Bertie Hawkins, Rory Hobbs, Nick Barclay
Manager: Di Bellin Coach: Justin Pidcock