Roller Hockey Report – Nat Cup Qualifiers
Herne Bay United
(expect an Under 11 report from Kent Roller Hockey and Skating Academy)
The weekend of the 22/23 June was the play-offs for the National Cup Finals for each of the age-groups Under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 20. Herne Bay United was playing in all 5. The matches were held in the Eastern Counties hot-bed of Soham near Cambridge.
The matches pitted old rivals against each other, opening with HBU v Kings Lynn in the U13. Several of the HBU players came straight from their return flights from Portugal where they had been playing with the England team last week. A tight first half produced a mid-point score line of 1 – 1 but in the second half Kings Lynn’s Matt Baker (who was also part of the England team in Portugal) polished off HBU with 3 goals for a 4 – 1 victory. HBU’s scorer was Jamie McVey.
Next up were the U15 who faced 2 matches to get to the final. The first opponents were again Kings Lynn but on past form this time HBU were favourites to win. HBU went in to half time 2 – 0 in front with goals from Lewis Greenwood and Alex Mount. The 2nd half saw Kings Lynn come back but with only one goal from Matt Baker which gave HBU a tighter than expected 2 – 1 win to put them into the decider against Kent Academy. This match was more of a formality for HBU who had a very comfortable half-time lead of 9 – 2 (scorers Lewis Greenwood 5, Josh Branchett 2, David Martindale 1 and an own goal). HBU relaxed in the 2nd half with just 3 goals (Josh Butcher, Alex Mount and Josh Branchett) for 2 in reply from Kent Academy. Final result HBU 12, Kent Academy 4.
The final contest of the day on Saturday was U11, HBU v Kent Academy. On previous encounters in the Eastern Counties League Kent Academy had been convincing winners so HBU had worked on the U11 team defence. This kept the score to 1 – 2 at half-time but frustrations crept into the 2nd half and Kent Academy scored 4 without any reply from HBU to make the final score 1 – 6.
The U17 and U20 matches took place on Sunday. The U15 players form the nucleus of HBU’s U17 and U20 teams so several players and their parents stayed in the Soham area overnight.
The opponents in the U17 match were Ely and HBU expected a comfortable win going on past form in the Eastern Counties league. HBU scored first through Lewis Greenwood but Ely equalised which was not part of the script. Ashley Barton scored to give HBU a narrow 2 – 1 lead at half-time but the team was looking far from comfortable. HBU ground out some more goals in the second half through Mount (2), Barton and Greenwood and Ely got a second goal on the board just before full time. A 6 – 2 win but the team was not looking its best and had just one additional player joining them for the U20 match in an hour’s time.
The U20 match opponents were Bury St Edmunds who had pretty much the England Juniors on show and who comprised most of the Bury team that had played the Premier League match at the Bay Arena on the Saturday evening (see separate report). The HBU team instructions were to keep the defence tight and attack at full tilt when the opportunity arises.
The HBU U20 team was the U17 team plus Dan Butcher. Dan had scored 4 against Bury the previous evening and it was clear from the start that Bury were concentrating their marking on him. With, in essence, 2 Premier League quality teams facing each other there were few chances and those that came were missed and it was 0 – 0 at half time.
The HBU game plan was therefore left unchanged in the second half with no team changes which would be a concern as the match wore on in terms of tired legs. 3 minutes into the 2nd half Greenwood slotted home a push shot round a defender into the corner of the net. The game was continued to the same plans by both teams with Bury getting increasingly frustrated and the team-fouls building up both ways. It looked like Bury would reach the key 10 fouls first but they gave away a major foul which resulted in a sending off and a direct free-hit to HBU which HBU failed to convert. Soon afterwards HBU gave away the foul which brought their tally to 10. Keeper Ed Mount saved but the hit was ordered to be re-taken because of a break-out by HBU players. Bury changed the striker but again Ed saved. It could have been 1 -1 but Ed had kept HBU’s 1 – 0 lead. Bury still faced 2 minutes of power-play against them and during that time they looked more dangerous than HBU with all 4 players on the rink
The final 2 minutes of the match were very tense and combative and Bury took off their goalkeeper to use 5 out-players to try their utmost to get an equaliser. With 13 seconds on the clock Bury gave away the 10th foul. Greenwood stepped up to take the direct free-hit and again slotted home and HBU secured an improbable 2 – 0 win.
HBU Club President Ron Barker said “I travelled up today specifically to help manage the Under 20 match as Dan Butcher is not used to playing with these youngsters in a competitive situation. This match had everything, it was Premier League standard and would have been a worthy final. I am delighted with the way our team performed as a team and fought their way to a very hard won victory on very tired legs at the end. We made three finals out of five and this one is the icing on the cake. All we have to do now is keep it together until the finals at the Bay Arena on 20 July. Everyone should come and cheer the teams on”.
U15: HBU v Ely
U17: HBU v Bury
U20: HBU v Kings Lynn
U11: Harrison Raven (goalkeeper), Archie Isaacs, Max Bassom, Millie Clarke, Sian Emslie, Fionnbarr Parkinson-Terry, Lewis Deverson
U13: Rhys Young (goalkeeper), Luke Huckstepp, Sian Emslie, Jamie McVey, Oli Hudson, George Daly
U15: Rhys Young (goalkeeper), Alex Mount, Josh Branchett, Lewis Greenwood, Jocie Greenwood, Will Parkinson-Wellard, David Martindale, Jamie McVey, Josh Butcher, Luigi Walker
U17: Ed Mount (goalkeeper), Alex Mount, Josh Branchett, Lewis Greenwood, David Martindale, Ashley Barton, Harry Adams (goalkeeper)
U20: Ed Mount (goalkeeper), Alex Mount, Josh Branchett, Lewis Greenwood, Dan Butcher, Ashley Barton