By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey
On Wednesday, the much anticipated hockey fixture between the first XI and ‘all-stars’ took place. The all-stars squad was made up of a number of the top performers across Blocks 3, 4 and 5, and was assembled to deliberately challenge a talented and hard-working first team.
As anticipated, the first team came out firing on all cylinders and looking to take advantage of the new look opposition, who were trying to find their feet. However, the all-stars managed to survive the initial onslaught, much owed to England trialist goalkeeper Josh Baty, who had kindly stepped in to fill that position to ramp the game up another notch. Despite the bulk of the attacking possession falling to the first team it was the all-stars who took the lead, through a fine individual goal from Kamaya Nelson-Clayton.
As the game progressed, Rebekah Leach began to have more and more influence for the all-stars, winning numerous tackles, interceptions and displaying an excellent range of passing. The final 10 minutes of the half saw a thoroughly entertaining battle between Rebekah and her equally impressive sister Alisia, who was driving the first team forward. However, no more goals were added and the first team went in 1-0 down.
The second half saw a further ramp up in intensity from the first team, driven by the tireless Mathilda Douglas, who was constant threat. But 15 minutes in and the all-stars defence had stood firm: with Block 3 Eliza Hayward in outstanding form. The all-stars team were now reduced to breakaways and counter-attacks but with the skilful Clara Stannah and pacey Rosy Riley they were always a threat.
However, a mature and calm approach from Esther Stewart and Shanklin Mackillop-Hall ensured nothing came from these breakaways and this calmness began to spread through the first team, firstly,with Gala Pearson cooly converting the equalizer after a melee in the D and then finally with Mathilda Douglas drilling home a deserved goal for her and a deserved winner for the first team. The final result was 2-1 in a competitive and enjoyable fixture. I am sure there will be calls for a replay (and hopefully so!)