A Sunday morning trip up the A1 to Blueharts for the U12s. We arrived in a wet and windy Hitchin, but the players were full of enthusiasm and ready to go.

We got off a good start with a 0-0 draw in our first game against Blueharts D. A trickier second game against Harpenden C sadly saw us go down 3-0. The third game against Blueharts C was a tight 1-0 defeat. We rounded off the tournament with a 9-a-side game against Letchworth C losing 1-0 after a strong performance.

It was a great experience for the players taking part in their first tournament, alongside some of our more experienced players. Hard work across the team, great spirit, strong tackles and creating good chances. Lots of positives to build on for the next tournament.

Well done Dawud, Emilia, Edward, Orla, Adam, Zoe, Hannah, Mia, Sam, Arran, James. And thanks to the parents for braving the weather.

WH&E L2 3 : 1 West Herts L4

An unrecognisable pitch with suggested parking directly next to the side of the pitch, which would have meant leaping over puddles. Good start to the away match!

Luckily we found alternative parking and our game play went off with a bang with Kirsty and Mollie making their debut in adult hockey. The girls made some brilliant tackles and helped hold off the opposition. As did Freya, making cracking saves and even booted one out, unfortunately hitting Lorna on the foot!

At the other end of the pitch there were moments of excellence (even the umpires couldn’t believe the goals!) resulting in 2 goals by half time – one each for Bridget and Charlotte. We also had 2 injuries with Charlotte looking as though she had punched a wall and Pippa with a painful carpet burn, ouch!

The second half became a bit messy at times with everyone working hard to keep the opposition out. Kareen didn’t want to be left out and popped one in to make it 3-0. Double digits for her already this season! Quickly West Herts got one back making the final result 3-1.

Well done ladies, another win under our belts and a rest weekend coming up!

WH&E L1 1 : 2 Wapping L4

A good performance from the L1s, with the points agonisingly slipping away as Wapping came from a goal down to clinch the win in the final minutes.

WH&E M2 1 : 4 West Hampstead M7

The late game away at West Hampstead, and no write-up this week. Just one goal to report from Jonny Molloy – it was a belter apparently! Maybe.

WH&E M1 v Wapping M7 (walkover)

Wapping couldn’t get a team out, so 3 points to our M1s!

WH&E M1 1 : 6 Hampstead & Westminster Thirsts

After last week’s great win, the M1s were looking to keep the momentum going and take home 3 points against Hampstead & Westminster Thirsts. It was a sunny Saturday morning in Maida Vale, and we were playing on an excellent pitch with a full squad of 15. So far so good!

We started off well, playing with a high press and held the upper hand in the early exchanges. Some strong tackles in midfield won us possession, but we couldn’t find the final pass to create a meaningful chance in front of goal. The opposition grew more confident as the half went on, starting to pose a few more problems for the M1s defence, and taking the lead after about 15 minutes.

But we kept our heads and went searching for an equaliser, which we thought we’d found. A good attack up the left from Jack Wilson, resulted in the ball popping up off a Thirsts’ player onto another defender’s body, from where it dropped down into the path of Colin Foad who calmly slotted it home. No whistle, no goal. After some discussion between the umpires, they decided on a short corner instead 🤷‍♂️ To make matters worse, the Thirsts promptly scored their second goal on the stroke of half-time.

During the break we decided to play the high press again, as it had worked in the first 15 minutes of the game, and our pressure told with some high turnover ball and a number of chances created. Then, a perfectly executed penalty corner gave Colin the opportunity for a clean strike on goal which evaded the keeper and man on the line to go in. We scored the goal we so desperately needed, 2-1.

But after that, we lost our way – lacking focus to turn the game around and giving the ball away too easily. Hampstead scored again with an outrageous one-handed diving tomahawk to make it 3-1, and then bundled in another easy goal to make it 4-1. Many subs came on and off creating chaos in our midfield and defence, and the opposition made full use of this to score two more goals.

We had a good final 5 minutes but didn’t manage to score again. The match ended in a 6-1 loss, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time in the pub afterwards where we decided to celebrate last week’s win and quickly forget about our defeat!

MOTM: Jake Tasker, for an all round solid display in at least 3 different positions!
DOTD: Josh Rider, for not staying to celebrate his birthday with the team!

WH&E L2 1 : 0 Old Uxonians L1

The team selection was done. The goals were out. The warm up was completed.

We started strong with lovely passing play down the lines and several short corners, but we couldn’t quite find the goal. However, a pass out from defence, the ball was carried towards the D and into Kareen who turned and swept it into the goal. A well-deserved 1-0 half time.

The second half they came out fighting, with swings of sticks flying all over. Some truly terrible 16s from Pip and I meant that Chris had to make some fantastic saves, keeping a clean sheet and saving our bacon several times. The Christmas trees got more frustrated and more physical when they couldn’t get one in the goal, culminating with Pippa getting a stick to the head.

At times we made it hard for ourselves but overall, a well-deserved win.

An extra special thank you to Sam Deane, who came to umpire us on her bye week and ended up umpiring the M2s as well due to Pip’s head injury.

WH&E M2 3 : 1 Ealing M1

No match report from the M2s victory, but we do have this rather nice penalty corner video!


No match this week for the Ladies 1s…

WH&E M1 6 : 2 East London M4

A beautiful winter’s day which made Southbury look even more enticing than usual. This was the setting for the M1s to show some attacking intent that has been lacking a bit this season, in part due to inconsistency in availability and playing some very strong opposition.

The first ten minutes showed promise but attacks were breaking down at the final pass. Then something seemed to click and we opened the scoring with a fast slick move that was arguably our best goal of the season so far. Having switched the ball across the back Eray played an excellent hard direct ball up to Colin in the channel. One neat touch to eliminate his marker, some quadragenerian acceleration towards the 25, and then a further hard and accurate strike to Tim running in from the opposite flank. Looking composed, and if anything better-looking than usual, he quickly smashed it past the keeper for 1-0.

Further good interplay led to a short corner which Colin smashed into the far corner at the perfect height – 2-0. East London did have some counter attacks throughout the first half and we left Josh exposed more often than we should have. From one of these counter attacks, they managed to get back to 2-1 for half-time.

Half-time discussions mainly revolved around doing the good things more and the bad things less. This worked well. Soon after the restart another short was won, and some on-the-spot training for Dan paid off beautifully as he ended up in the perfect position to neatly deflect Colin’s pass outside the far post past the keeper for 3-1.

Pressure continued to build on East London as they desperately sought to get back into the game, but unlike the first half they were also now struggling to make any serious inroads on the counter attack. Stu and Matt were tidying up beautifully any time they got close. Adam and Dom kept the ball pace up in the middle of the park, Jason and Sam offered great outlets in the wide positions, and Harry bravely headed the ball away when required.

The pressure told. A ball from midfield into Colin at the top of the D, he slowly tiptoed his way around a couple of players to the baseline and played the ball across the goal for Dan to knock in from close range and grab his second of the game – 4-1. It was soon 5-1. East London kept their discipline well but another Winch’ attack led to a defender blocking the ball on the line from young Tim. Colin made sure the flick counted.

A late consolation for East London from a short corner with a neat reverse stick finish made it 5-2. But just to make sure we celebrated the win with the final word, Colin placed another short corner inside the opposite post to complete his hattrick and make it 6-2.

In truth it could have been even more convincing and there is still plenty of room for more composed phases of possession. But the weather was great, the umpires were super, and we had at least two fewer people in hospital than last week. Here’s to more of the same for the rest of a promising 2022.

WH&E L1 3 : 2 Richmond L3

The ladies 1s played at home on a sunny afternoon against Richmond and were determined for a Win! We were missing a few key players today but sending Vicks and Beth all our love at their homes isolating. Still love but a little less to Karen Goode who didn’t manage to convince her mum to come play for us, thus choosing her mum over us!!

It was a squishy start for Evie who let Maple roam free and then got punished for it, although the day looked less rocky from then on. T finally made it to a game with an exciting announcement, she could see! She made use of it being strong at left D.

We called Abbi and Kate up and they both played absolutely brilliantly, with Kate shutting them down and moving it up the right and Abbi making strong runs into space to make opportunities happen for us up front, huge thanks to both for their strong game play.

The first half we played well as a team, communicating lots and our press was shutting their 16s down. Unfortunately on one lucky break, the opponent’s superstar smashed it into the back of the net for 1-0. We were determined to get one back and Bethany decided to take it into her own hands and dribble through 5 of them to put it past their keeper. Then we got another on a lovely cross in from Gem, Karen Gray smashed it into the back of the net, 2-1. Sarah, T and Gem were holding strong at the back and Sam, Kate and Evie were shutting everything down in the midfield.

The second half we kept up the teamwork and on another ridiculous effort from Bethany, Kate smashed it into the back of the net for 3-1. Karen Gray had a beautiful chance for another one on a great cross on from Sam, but somehow the keeper got there. They had a few chances down our end but Nic kept the positivity and communication and made some stellar saves to keep it out. Then the usual, with 10 minutes left we gave them a few penalty corners, just to keep things spicy. On one of those chances, a shot was hit straight through to the backboard, 3-2. From then on though we managed to keep it down their end and we had momentum and press to hold that score and get the Win!

WH&E L2 0 : 2 Imperial Medics L1

Following last week’s win, we came to the game feeling confident despite our previous loss to Imperial; we had a full team, including subs, and the weather was on our side.

We started strong with superior skills and teamwork however we soon lost our form, matching Imperial’s lack of structure and forgetting the strong passing play we’ve been demonstrating the past few games. Imperial were getting opportunities, but we kept strong in the defence with some lovely clearances, including a beautiful dive from Chris, saving the ball from getting into that bottom left corner with the stick. But despite our hard work, Medics managed to end the first half 1-0 up.

The second half started and we came back with a vengeance, keeping our cool and doing beautiful passes across and up the pitch, getting around their defence and creating chances. After one such opportunity a Medics’ player’s clearance lifted the ball past Pippa’s face, giving her a chance at demonstrating her ball-dodging skills a la The Matrix. Despite this, Medics’ speed kept them at an advantage. During a battle for the ball, Pippa fell in the centre of the pitch accompanied by a very hearty laugh from Lisa, but Freya wasn’t to be deterred by her fallen comrade, battling to maintain possession of the ball.

However, despite our much more controlled and clean play, which led to an extended battle on the opposition’s goal line, Medics maintained a clean sheet as well as gained another goal, the whistle blowing with a finals core of 2-0 to them. But we’re not to be deterred, and will come back fighting next week!

WH&E M2 0 : 5 Indian Gymkhana M5

The trip to Indian Gymkhana was undertaken with some trepidation – a bad tempered 7-2 thrashing earlier in the season perhaps contributing to a lack of players this time round. We eventually reached 11 by denying the 1s some subs (and by the results, it didn’t look like they needed them!) and by pulling in the captain’s 76-year old dad – resulting in 3 generations on the pitch.

The fears were only half-justified: it was a very enjoyable and friendly game, and Gymkhana very welcoming (and providing an excellent curry afterwards). They were, however, very skilful: Guy had their centre-forward well marked in the third minute, but still got beaten all ends up as a reverse-stick shot from top-D hit the bottom corner. Hmmn.

So, ending up as a 5-0 loss, but one with plenty of good hockey from both sides, and lots of good passing and attacking intent from us. It would have been nice to have converted one of our many short corners, but we put on a good show, and were beaten by a very experienced team.

The Under 12s headed up the A1 on Sunday to Blueharts Hockey Club in Hitchin for their first tournament in a long time. Some nerves, an air of the unknown, but lots of excitement.

We got off to a flying start with a 1-0 win over Broxbourne B. We played some lovely hockey. It was an all round great team effort with a superb finish from Oscar. What a start to the tournament!

We again dominated possession in the next game against Harpenden C with some excellent work from Sam in midfield. The game ended in a slightly frustrating 0-0 draw, but U12s went into the next game more determined than ever to get a win.

Despite facing a strong Letchworth B side, some great pressure from James S, Aled, and Grace, and important tackles from James T and Edward, meant we went 1-0 up after a brilliant finish from Oscar. Another win!

Slightly taken aback by the presence of a goalkeeper in our penultimate game, U12s worked hard and forced the keeper to make lots of saves. We felt unlucky to come away with a 0-0 draw against Blueharts C.

Hearts sank when a goalkeeper again appeared for the final game against Blueharts B. But not to be deterred, the U12s put in a strong performance. Orla got in to some good positions, and Teddy followed up on the rebound with a brilliant goal lifting it past the keeper. Adam smashed the ball past the keeper with a great first touch for our second. We held on to win 2-1.

The team played so well – working together as a team, using the width of the pitch, and brimming with confidence. Well done Edward, Orla, Adam, Grace, Aled, Oscar, Teddy, James S, Sam, James T. The next tournament can’t come soon enough.

Thanks to Jason and to parents for their support on the day.

Results:

WHE 1 – 0 Broxbourne B
WHE 0 – 0 Harpenden C
WHE 1 – 0 Letchworth B
WHE 0 – 0 Blueharts C
WHE 2 – 1 Blueharts B