Football and Hockey Update
16 Mar 2020
1st VII Hockey
Witham Hall 1st VII 11 - 1 St Hugh’s 1st VII
After excellent preparation the boys were raring to get going against St Hugh’s. A solid start saw early goals scored through the combination of Oscar H, Rupert P and Rafe C. With a 3-0 lead, different combinations also proved fruitful as the 1st VII played a high intensity, fast-paced style of hockey. At half time, although ahead, the boys knew that more work was needed defensively as St Hugh’s started to carve out good opportunities in front of goal. Early on in the second half the visitors scored. With spirits raised, St Hugh’s were on the ascendency. Pleasingly, Witham worked their way through this difficult period and went on to score a couple of well worked breakaway goals. The game finished 11-1 but this scoreline does not reflect what a closely fought contest the second half was.
U12A VII Hockey @ Oakham Tournament
It was a great afternoon of hockey for the newly formed U12 squad at the Oakham Tournament. A last-minute change a change of format to a round robin tournament, which meant even more hockey for all players.
The boys faced Beeston Hall first; a well-worked short corner in the first half saw Harry P deflect the ball past Beeston keeper to put Witham in the lead. Angus M followed up some great goalkeeping in the second half to see a win, 2-0. A match against hosts, Oakham, followed. Seb and Caleb rotated upfront to keep their legs fresh, and it wasn’t long before Seb slipped the ball in the goal after some excellent attacking strength from Harry P, Angus M, Louis H, and Henry P in the midfield. The second goal was a repeat of the successful short corner routine, and in the second half Angus M and Louis H found the backboard to see Witham win convincingly, 4-1.
Outstanding defence all day from Ben Y-C, Ollie G and Tom M-C in goal, ensured clean sheets in the last two games, beating both Bilton Grange and Spratton 3-0 apiece. Harry P secured four more goals and Angus M two. The boys really gelled as a team as the day progressed and worked right until the final whistle of the last game to see Witham crowned tournament winners. Harry P was also selected by Oakham School staff as player of the team.
3rd XI Hockey
Witham Hall 3rd X 3 - 0 Oakham School U13C
Oakham got the game underway, but Witham took possession straightaway and created wave-after-wave of attacking play. After a number of missed chances, Witham took the lead through Alfie S. Continued pressure from Witham created a second goal, well taken by Harry L After the break, Oakham made it difficult for Witham, tackling hard and closing down the opposition well. But Witham kept on going, continuing to create more scoring opportunities. With just a few minutes to spare, Witham got their reward with a third goal, courtesy of Alfie S once again. The final whistle blew and it was a well-deserved 3-0 win to Witham. A great team performance.
4th VII Hockey
Witham Hall 4th VII 0 - 5 St Hugh’s 2nd VII
Witham were quickly on the back foot as they played host to a six-man St Hugh's U13Bs. St Hugh's capitalised on a sense of individuality from Witham, who struggled to gel as a team for the first half. Playing with six may have also thrown Witham out of position slightly, but St Hugh's managed to adapt the situation favourably and wave-after-wave of attack ended fruitful to put the visitors three goals ahead at the end of the first half.
Witham were much more settled in the opening minutes of the second half, some impressive link play from all players deserved reward, but it wasn't to be on this occasion. Changes from the bench enabled Witham to put in short bursts of maximum effort, which improved dramatically after half time, but it was St Hugh's who once again dominated the half in its latter stages, putting a further two past Witham to leave the score at 0-5.
Colts A Football
Stoneygate 1 - 4 Witham Hall
Leicester GS 0 - 1 Witham Hall
The side played back-to-back fixtures against near neighbours Stoneygate and Leicester GS on artificial surfaces. This created a need for tighter control and precision in passing, and the boys provided this with increasing consistency against Stoneygate, taking control of the match after half-time with some impressive finishing. Against Leicester, an early goal proved vital in a game where there were few clear-cut chances. Once in front, the boys worked very hard defensively to protect their lead and thereby complete a good afternoon.
Colts B Football
Playing on a more challenging surface did not deter the Colts, who began their match against Stoneygate with accurate passing, showing credible understanding of playing the ball out from the back. Such team play led to early goals, and Witham found themselves 3-0 up within the first half. Heading into the second period, all rolling substitutes adopted a similar style of play. They managed to retain the win by displaying forcefulness and confidence in tackling to shut down counter attacks. 3-0 Witham versus Stoneygate.
The second match of the afternoon saw a combination of stronger opposition and smaller goals. The Colts Bs continued to play encouraging football through sharing the ball and enabling an attack build-up. Their finishing ability unfortunately fell short when tested. In the closing minutes, after a collective effort from Witham, broke down Leicester Grammar caught our team on the counter and capitalised. The Colts B, in the words of their coach, were ‘robbed’ in a 1-0 defeat against Leicester Grammar.
The remaining half of the Colts B had difficulties when playing Leicester Grammar’s C team. Witham struggled to rival the fast ball movement of their opponents. In a 10 minute-half we conceded three. Despite being on the back foot, the boys upped the pressure, and valued their possession of the ball. Colts C demonstrated superb striking ability and rattled the bar twice. Nearing the end of the match, the ball was fired at one of our defenders’ faces. With excellent reflexes, he managed to put his hand in the way. A penalty was awarded and converted to make the score line 4-0 to Leicester Grammar.
U10A Football @ Leicester Grammar Festival
Rarely can a team have played so attractively for so much of an afternoon and yet come away with four defeats and a solitary victory. Witham started with an attractive and purposeful win over Copthill. The following game saw Witham dominate possession without ever looking entirely committed in attack. The bogginess of the surface slowed the team down all afternoon, but it is fair to say that both sides were playing on the same pitch and the home side made the better of it in the end with two late goals. Brooke Priory, whom we had already encountered twice this season, were our next opponents. The performance was altogether feistier, but legs were now tiring in the conditions and once again, one or two lucky breaks led to victory for our opponents. Against Stoneygate, Witham contrived a defeat from the jaws of deserved victory through a touch of complacency and a greater degree of fatigue. The final game was against Fairfield, whose physical aggression had dominated the festival to that point. Witham called upon the last reserves of strength and gave a good account of themselves but were eventually narrowly defeated.
There is sometimes more to be learnt in defeat than in victory, and this was certainly true on this occasion. The finesse of our midfield was a pleasure to watch, but this alone did not propel the ball into the net often enough to win games we dominated.
U10B Football @ Leicester Grammar Festival
The U10Bs showed a good fighting spirit and made a good account of themselves playing in a fantastic festival at Leicester Grammar School. Whilst Witham found it difficult to be accurate with their passing on the fast playing-surface, the team displayed some stoic defence and were unlucky not to score more goals over the afternoon. There were some positives to take from the day, as well as plenty for the team to work on in training.
Witham Hall U9A 3 - 1 Spratton Hall U9A
The U9s got off to a strong start, moving the ball quickly and effectively forward, and found themselves leading 1-0 at the half time interval. In the second half, the imperious Spratton goalie kept his side in the game and on the counter, our hosts were starting to look dangerous, creating numerous opportunities. However, the U9As held their nerve and went on to score a second to start to take the game away from Spratton. A more direct approach paid dividends. Spratton came back strongly and scored to leave things finely poised at 2-1 with minutes to go. One last breakaway goal saw Witham win 3-1. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and a big thank you must go to Spratton who hosted.
Witham Hall U9B 2 - 0 Spratton Hall U9B
The Northamptonshire countryside proved an elegant setting for the U9s final duel of the season. They saved the best until last. A purposeful start saw our front line charging forward, with the Spratton defence reeling from wave-after-wave of attack. The deadlock was broken shortly before half time with an own goal, a careless pass across the face of goal which a strong wind helped to divert into the net. Playing against the wind in the second half was always likely to be more challenging, but by then Witham had the wind very much in their sails and victory was consolidated. A pleasing finale to a season of progress.
The two U8s Hockey teams hosted three sides from Stamford School, who proved a strong opposition but provided the Witham players with some valuable match experience on the hockey pitch. Having played a mixture of football and hockey this term, the U8s displayed some pleasing skill and positional awareness at times, which improved as the matches progressed. Despite conceding a number of goals, the boys didn't give up and focussed well, which they continued to do so for the duration of the matches.