Sports Focus – English Hockey Club Indoor National Finals

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marlow hockey juniors

The National Finals of the England Hockey Club Indoor competition was held over the weekend of 19-20 January. This year Marlow was represented by the U16 Girls and U18 Girls and U18 Boys following their fantastic qualification for the event. Here’s how the teams fared.

U16 Girls

In their first match against Wakefield, the Marlow girls scored early with a corner converted by Tilly Crampsie. Wakefield then came back with a corner conversion of their own, before Marlow scored 2 more goals before half time, both from Alba Braybrooke making the score 3-1. Despite creating more chances in the second half Marlow could not find the net, and Wakefield scored twice more, with the game ending 3-3.

The second match was against Sevenoaks who have proved to be a strong outfit with their play over the course of the season. The game was end-to-end with chances for both sides but two goals from Sevenoaks first half and another early in the second gave them a healthy lead. Marlow came back strong and scored a deserved goal from Tilly Crampsie but Sevenoaks ran out 3-1 winners.

The girls knew that they would need to win both matches on Sunday to progress from their group – the first match was against Stourport, who Marlow had beaten last year to win the U16 National title. The game was fiercely competed, and Marlow scored first with a confident run and finish from captain Sophie Bowen Evans. However, Marlow’s lead was short lived and Stourport levelled a minute later. The first half finished 1-1 and Stourport scored an early goal in the second half to win the match 2-1. The Marlow girls were disappointed but determined to win their final match against Clifton Robinsons which they did 1-0 with a goal from Grace Kisbee.

The U16 performed valiantly in all their games, and competing with a very young side, with only three full aged players showed just how good they can be. A special mention to coaches Lottie Porter, Kate Porter and manager Jo Rees for their commitment to the girls and well done to all that took part.

U18 Boys

Marlow boys competed at Telford. The competition involved 10 teams from the 5 regions over 2 days. It is always a high standard and the boys knew there would be no easy games.

The boys first game against Ipswich East Suffolk was certainly a game of two halves, with Marlow’s Louis Cadinouche scoring early on in the game. However, Marlow was then rocked, conceding five goals in seven minutes, giving Ipswich a 5-1 lead heading into the half.

The second half saw a vast improvement, with Tom Sheldon, Cadinouche grabbing his second and Toby Hill getting Marlow back into the game, but the boys couldn’t quite find the goal that would have completed the comeback.

It seemed to be a case Déjà vu in game two against Bowdon, as Marlow battled hard but found themselves 2-0 down with a goal coming either side of halftime. The boys showed the hard graft and determination that saw them come a goal away from a comeback against Ipswich when Charlie Peplow found the net to cut the scoreline. However, Bowdon hit back instantly, and Marlow were unable to find a late equalising goal after Tom Ferris’ fantastic goal gave them a chance. The final score ending 3-2 to Bowdon.

Finishing day one on zero points was not quite what Marlow had in mind, but the boys showed on day two that they were made of stronger stuff.

A brilliant performance from Tom Sheldon saw the U18s pick up their first win of the tournament, beating Repton by three goals to two. The win kept Marlow in with a chance of qualification, with one game to go.

That game was against Ashmoor and what a game it was. The game had it all. Goals. Yellow Cards. And with Marlow knowing they needed both a victory and a favour from Bowdon, the boys stepped up and played some sublime hockey, despite conceding after just one minute. Cadinouche, grabbed his third of the tournament to equalise before second-half goals from Tom Sheldon and Tom Ferris sealed the victory. A joyous win made more so by the fact that Bowdon had beaten Ashmoor, to send Marlow through to the Semi-finals.

In the Semis the boys came up against the other south qualifiers, Guildford and the match did not disappoint. Marlow got the ball rolling as Tom Sheldon continued his goal-scoring antics, putting Marlow ahead before Guildford levelled the scores before the half. In the second, it was Marlow who had to come from behind, after an early goal from Guildford. Charlie Thrush popped up with the important goal just two minutes from time to send the game into penalty strokes.

It was however not to be Marlow’s day, after the lottery of penalty strokes ended their competition, but there’s no doubting the level of determination and heart it took from the boys to come into day two without a single point and still make it to the semi-finals.

Well done to all the boys involved and all of the coaching staff too.

U18 Girls

The Marlow U18 Girls Indoor squad returned back to Whitgift School in Croydon, the scene of their triumph in the Regional rounds with excitement and in a confident mood, with a mix of some players in their last year of age group hockey and some members of last years National winning squad.

The first game up was a 2-1 triumph over Beeston, who had some players in the squad who had just won the Schools National Championships. The goals were scored by Sophie Willis and Amelia Barclay.

Next up was Harleston Magpies but unfortunately, Marlow lost this game by a single goal and headed into Day 2 with their destiny in their own hands, knowing that with two victories they were to qualify for the semi final.

Isca from Exeter pushed Marlow close but the squad was very deserving of victory 3-2 with a Jemima Copeman grabbing a brace (who finished top goal scorer for the squad) and a goal from Ellie Yeomans sealing the win.

And so came the last group game against Ben Rhydding from Yorkshire and as long as the girls didn’t lose by two goals they would advance to the semi final. An early goal came from Ellie Yeomans who added a second twelve minutes later. Ben Rhydding scored a consolation goal towards the end of the match, but Marlow came away with the victory.

Unfortunately, there was an injury of a broken knuckle to Sarah Pearce, who had been one of the most consistent performing members of the squad all weekend.

So, to the Semi-final and only Southgate, the top ranked side in the tournament so far stood between the girls and the final. It was a fierce and very competitive encounter between two good indoor hockey sides, and the game went right down to the wire, with Southgate running out 2-1 winners.

The squad gave everything and the disappointment was clear at the end of the match, but there wasn’t anything more players or staff could have done as they gave everything to try and gain the victory over the team, who went on to be crowned National Champions in their next match (winning on penalty flicks.

Congratulation to all the girls and coaching staff involved for their hard work and effort.

With two Marlow sides coming out of the weekend among the top four teams in the country, it should be seen as a fantastic success for the club. Congratulations to everyone who took part and everyone who supported them on their way!

Many thanks to David Wiltshire and Marlow Hockey Club for providing details.

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