Senior Boys Hockey Witham 1st VII reach East Region Finals!
04 Mar 2016
IN2 Country Tournament
The Witham 1st VII reached the East Region Finals after finishing runners’ up in the Lincolnshire region. After a resounding victory over Lincoln Minster, Witham then were brought back down to earth by a very strong Spalding side who were made up of club players of the highest standard – a super experience for the boys but one in which they could have held themselves with more confidence. Witham then had to beat Stamford and St Hugh’s to qualify which they did, showing real tenacity after 120 minutes of non-stop hockey. The team now go through to play the very best schools in the East of England.
Witham Hall 3 (James x 2 & Will)
St John’s 1
Witham would be forgiven for being a little rusty after a long half term break, no training and 3 days of gruelling exams, however the team started in fine fashion. Within the first ten minutes the boys were up after a fine move down the right flank by Archie finished off neatly by James. Despite taking the lead, Witham began to lose their structure and allowed St John’s to press up the pitch taking wave after wave of attack and failing to clear their line. Witham defended their short corners with gusto however just before half time, St John’s struck level after a scrap in the ‘D’ – Witham were certainly glad when the half time whistle blew. After re-grouping and deciding that attacking down the space on the right side would gain the team greater success than the middle, the boys looked by far the superior team. Orlando fed Toby on the right who drove hard down the flank sending an inch perfect ball across to James; the finish can only be described as one the classiest I have witnessed at this age group with James reaching for the ball ahead of the defender and deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing keeper first time – pure quality, both the cross and the finish. There was still plenty of work to do with Alfie and Geordie doing a superb job keeping the attacks out alongside Oscar showing some tricky 3D skill down the left. Will finished the game off with a neat push into the corner after some fine skill and the boys finished worthy winners. With a training session before the key Stamford match, hopefully the boys can work hard to keep their unbeaten run going and a give a performance to fit.
IAPS Hockey Tournament
The boys were placed in an extremely tough group and knew they had to be at their best to have a chance of pushing through to the knock out stages. After an early win against St Olave’s, despite being 1-0 down at half time, Witham then drew disappointingly to Spratton Hall when they should have closed they game out. Next was OBH who play hockey from Under 10 level. The boys took a dominant early lead showcasing some sublime hockey through the middle. Unfortunately the team couldn’t sustain their efforts and two late goals meant a draw was a fair result. The National Champs were up next: Dean Close, and the boys were a credit to themselves. Playing a school with 80 plus to pick from that play hockey from a far younger age, the boys tested their opponents and looked the better team in the first half. Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way at the final whistle but it certainly was a performance befitting their true potential. In the final two games, a disappointing loss to St Faiths and a draw to Winchester House meant we just missed out on goal difference. We left with a feeling of disappointment but also that the boys had given their all. Three teams in our group finished in the final three to go through to the Nationals which just emphasizes the tough run we had. I hope the boys learned a huge amount about tournament hockey and hopefully this experience will be invaluable for the tough run in our inter-school fixtures on our return from half-term. Thank you to our parents for all their continued support and to Repton for hosting another great day.
Witham Hall 1st VII 2 (James & Joe)
Stamford School 1st VII 1
Witham were eager to build on the impressive performance against St John’s and again maintain their unbeaten record in inter-school fixtures. With the idea of not giving Stamford any space to pass into, the boys half pressed by man marking. This seemed to work and allowed Witham to counter with quick forwards. James was immense all match and when he took a through ball he rounded the keeper with real skill deceiving the keeper who took him down the process of shooting. A penalty flick was awarded but this chance just missed the post. Witham continued to create chances and Joe made the pressure tell when he hammered home superbly when a loose ball fell his way – a superb finish. After half time, Stamford pushed for an equaliser and it duly came with a fine finish on the reverse – game on! The game became an end to end affair but with pace still to burn, Will and Archie found time and space on the flanks. It was Toby who broke free and kept his composure to hammer an inch perfect cross to James to slide in. Witham defended with real grit in the last few minutes with Geordie and Alfie again the saviours! A super victory and one that sets up a very exciting couple of weeks.
2nds & 3rds:
Witham Hall 2nd VII 2-4 St John’s Cambridge
Witham Hall 3rd VII 2-2 St John’s Cambridge
The 2nd team got off to a superb start against a well organised and technically strong St John’s side. Finding ourselves without the ball for long periods, we managed to catch St John’s out on the break and go 2-0 up inside twenty minutes thanks to some superb finishing from Frankie and Oliver. The second half was a similar story with the boys finding themselves without the ball for long periods of time. However, St John’s were starting to get in behind a tiring Witham defence and after conceding two early goals the Witham boys let their nerves get the better of them. The final score of 4-2 to St John’s is a fair result but certainly not one with which the boys should be disappointed.
The 3rd team put in a display of real grit and determination on a lovely sunny afternoon, perfect for playing hockey. After dominating the first half and missing many golden opportunities the boys were becoming frustrated and after going 2-0 down inside the first five minutes of the second half it looked as though the game was going to get away from them. However, Ewan, Toby and the imperious Harry put in superb performances and with five minutes to go we scored two goals to draw level at 2-2. Well done to all the boys who took part, a superb effort!
2nd VII 1-7 Stamford
3rd VII 2-6 Stamford
The 2nd and 3rd VII hockey teams endured tough afternoons against some very technically gifted Stamford sides. The 2nd VII had made a very promising start to their match, managing to keep the scores close with Stamford only 2-1 up at half time. However, as legs tired, we started to concede goals on a regular basis by making simple errors under pressure. A final score of 7-1 does not reflect the effort the whole 2nd team put in throughout. The 3rd VII also made a very sprightly start going in 2-1 to the good at half time with some excellent counter attacking hockey. The boys were holding their shape, working hard for one another and proving to be incredibly clinical in front of goal. However, as the game progressed the 3rd VII found it harder and harder to contain some of Stamford’s more athletic players who were finding a lot of space in behind our defence and exposing this well. Again, a final score of 6-2 does not reflect how hard all the boys worked. We now look forward to playing Oakham and getting some positive results on Wednesday.
Witham Hall 2nd XI 1
In a game of two halves the 2nd XI did themselves proud showing real grit and determination to get a 1-0 win at Oakham. In the first half both teams had some excellent opportunities in front of goal but couldn’t quite get the ball in the back of the net. The 2nd’s certainly could have found themselves a couple of goals to the good going in at the break. With the scores level at half time, the boys knew the game was in the balance and if they were going to get a result they would have to dig deep. Finding themselves defending a lot in the second half, the 2nd’s had one golden opportunity to score and they did through Vyv, with 10 minutes remaining. Many nervous minutes followed but they held on for a 1-0 win. Well done to all the boys, we now look forward to playing Wisbech GS away on Saturday.
Witham Hall 4th VII 0
Stamford School 8
The Witham boys played well in the first half to keep the immense Stamford attack at bay. Playing against players who have played hockey for far longer was always going to be a challenge. However, they certainly showed real heart to clear their lines and create opportunities. In the second half, Stamford utilised their skilful players and Witham struggled to keep the faith after a few goals drifted in. Sticks on the floor when defending was the aim of the day and when the likes of Will and Rori did so, we looked solid. Moving the ball wide was also a challenge and again, when successful the boys found more space and more opportunity. On this day, Witham just didn’t have the experience to match a very skilful Stamford side but I know with the desire and heart shown in the first half and last five minutes, the boys should have more success against Oakham in the coming week.