The 1st XI has had a mixed week. The talented group have struggled somewhat with confidence and have rarely managed to put a game together where everyone plays to their ability. This is through no lack of effort, but sometimes things just don’t click. The same could be said of the County Frank Mason tournament on Thursday. Three tough group games culminated in Eltham being knocked out of the plate quarter final on penalties, which made for a frustrating day in Canterbury. Somehow, and with numerous injuries, illness and complications, the boys managed to put Thursday behind them for the local derby against Trinity School. This would be the day that everyone would find the best version of themselves and put in a stunning performance. Two goals from Captain Ash and a quite phenomenal defensive display meant the boys clung on for a much needed win. From start to finish Eltham was magnificent, summed up by an outrageous stick save from Phil on the final whistle to ensure a richly deserved victory was achieved!
The final U15A fixture of the half term saw the boys travel to Trinity School, a side who they beat 4-1 last year. A disjointed pre-match could easily have been an excuse for a sloppy start, but the boys were eager to make a much more assertive start than they did against Dulwich College last week. Eltham dominated possession from the outset, led by the developing partnership at the back between Uriel and Theo. Trinity was restricted to fast breaks and couldn’t sustain any time in their attacking half as Ludo, Ollie and Blue seized control of the midfield. Plenty of chances came and went, but Eltham did not put the ball into the circle enough, and balls were going across goal, seemingly evading an Eltham forward every time. It took twenty minutes for Eltham to score when a chance finally dropped to Frank in the D, who finished calmly. Eltham entered half time one goal to the good. The second half showed a simply superb performance from the boys, who tore Trinity apart through using the wide players superbly and building neat, attractive passages of play. Harry opened his account for the season in style on the left post following a crash ball into the circle from Ollie, and shortly after Freddie extended the lead to three, finishing off another slick move at the back post. Freddie rounded off another excellent attacking move, as did Frank making the final score 5-0 to Eltham. It was pleasing to see how the boys valued their clean sheet; Theo making a superb goal line clearance, and Jack making a save with his neck to keep the Trinity attack at bay. Man of the match was awarded to Lewis.
The U15Bs put up a solid fight against a good Trinity side, which on another day could have ended differently. A bright start saw the boys make most of the running with Tim and our wide men seeing a lot of the ball through some impressive movement, but the team couldn’t convert any of their openings. Trinity, on the other hand, managed to put away one of their first chances and Eltham went into the break 1-0 down. It was disappointing to concede early in the second half, most of which was from Eltham’s own making, trying risky passes and being careless when in possession. Ethan managed to scramble one home with 10 left on the clock, however, chasing the game Eltham conceded a third. It was not meant to be on this occasion for the team, and the final scoreline was 3-1 to Trinity.
Eltham U14A rounded off a very busy week of hockey on Saturday morning as they faced Trinity School. Eltham proved to be too strong for Trinity, winning the game 4-1 with two goals from Thomas and one each for Jamie and Lysander. Man of the match was given to Thomas following a courageous and energetic performance.
The scoresheet doesn’t tell the whole story as this was an evenly fought competitive match — the squad’s best performance so far. Eltham played as a team with excellent application throughout. Will was outstanding in goal with Barney making strong tackles in defence. Tendwai and Henry showed great resilience in midfield and, but for the width of a stick or the sole of a boot, surely Ezana or Charlie would have scored; our best chance from Dylan forced a great save from the home keeper. The U14B team head into half term with great optimism.
The U13As had a good game on Saturday. They played well together and showed improvements upon the game from the previous week. It was a challenging game, and the boys found it difficult to get a strong shot on goal in the first half. The Trinity goalie was good and was able to save several shots. The boys had to be creative in order to get the goals in. At half time the score was 2-0 to Trinity. Disappointing as the boys certainly had more possession of the ball and were proving to be a better side with their stick skills. 90 seconds into the second half and two goals were scored – one each end. With the score now 3-1, Eltham had increased their game. Soon Eltham scored another bringing it to 3-2 and things were looking up. Alas, it was not meant to be. The final score was 4-2 to Trinity, but Eltham still pushed till the final minute. Notable performances were Cam for his fantastic defence and Jake for his super reverse hit that secured Eltham’s first goal.
The U13B team took to the field against a competitive Trinity side and were locked in an arm wrestle for most of the match. Sam was impressive in goal, and the boys were able to keep the score locked at 0-0 at half time. A late second half goal from Kevin put them in the lead, and from then on it was defending at all costs to see out a well-deserved victory.
The C squad looked in fine form as they warmed up and rallied one another for the task at hand. Dominant performances from Genta and Oli through defence and midfield meant the game was tight throughout. Trinity took the lead, but a very smart finish from Bleddyn meant the game was locked at 1-1 with plenty of time left. Chances came and went at both ends; however, two goals in the last minute from Trinity sealed the game.
The U13Ds were impressive against Trinity on Saturday morning. They created plenty of scoring opportunities that went begging in the first half, and along with Ollie having plenty to do in goal, the game went to half time without a goal scored for either team. The second half saw much of the same, until Eltham was able to convert one of their many opportunities finally. One nil up with not much time left, Eltham continued to go on the attack and solidified the win with a late second goal.
On Friday, the U12A team played against the full Ashford U13A team. Not only were the opposition a year older, but they were very well drilled and displayed strengths in all areas. That being said, Eltham had won all their games so far and needed a stern challenge. The U12A team certainly got this as Ashford displayed the skill and game awareness that the U12A team is striving to achieve. Ashford went 3-0 up in the first half having attacked at pace and width. Ollie in goal could not have done anything to stop two of the goals, which would have beaten most keepers at most levels of the game. The first half should be seen as an opportunity to learn, and this was discussed at half time. The team understood that they needed to work harder to give the opposition less time and pressurise them into mistakes. They certainly did this in the second half. Matthew was tenacious in the middle of the park, forcing errors from the opposition and creating opportunities for Eltham. The second half bought much more success, which resulted in scores for Josh and Mathew. In response, Ashford did score two of their own, but Eltham showed they were at least as strong as the opposition throughout. This was a great learning opportunity for the U12As and hopefully will ensure that they will get better as a team in the future games.
The boys put out a strong performance on Friday afternoon, playing a mixed team of U13s and U12s. Unfortunately, a few mistakes early in the game got Eltham 1-0 down very quickly. But the boys came back fighting and didn’t let their heads down. Ashford’s attack was a little too good for Eltham’s defence, but thanks to George’s excellent goalkeeping, Ashford was unable to get any further ahead. Unfortunately, Eltham was unable to get any good chances on goal and the second half was a stalemate. The team have learnt some good lessons to take into the second half of the term.
The U12Cs were up against the older Ashford team. Although Eltham had better skills than their opponents, they matched them with speed and strength. Ashford converted their chances to go up 2-0 into the break and although Eltham was trailing by two goals, the boys pushed hard for the goal by excellent work from the midfielders Edward, Jermaine and Cyrus, and were rewarded by a fine goal by George. The team kept attacking, and although the opponents caught Eltham on the break, our goalkeeper denied them to increase the lead. Eltham kept pushing forward and equalised with two minutes to go. A great effort by the boys to come back from 0-2 down to level the game 2-2.
Another fantastic display from the Ds away at Ashford. Despite having their trusty goalie, Bode, whisked away it did not dampen the team’s spirits. The boys demonstrated some fantastic skills and were fluent in their attack. Eltham dominated from the outset against a full seven players of Ashford (including their goalie). Goals from Cameron were backed up with a brace from James, Kai was strong in the midfield, and the two rocks at the back, Rhys and Arthur, topped off an impressive display from the mighty Ds.