Round-up of all the action from Bourne Deeping Hockey Club
Bourne Deeping Under 16s have qualified in style from the group stages of the England Hockey Junior Club Championship.
In a regional group of six teams - including big city clubs Peterborough, Norwich and Bedford - the Dragons have gone undefeated, topping their section with five wins and five clean sheets.
It has been a fantastic campaign and fair reward for six months of hard work, focus and dedication from the squad of 14 boys.
They completed the group stages with a 3-0 victory over Bury St Edmunds in another hard-fought contest.
The Bourne Deeping boys entered the game knowing that a win or a draw would see them qualify.
Instead of 'parking the bus', they took the game to Bury and chased another win, playing in their now familiar style of tight, cool-headed defence and fast-paced attacking breaks from deep within their own midfield.
The game started in typically shaky fashion on both sides as the players got the measure of each other.
In the opening 10 minutes, the game could have swung either way with both teams missing great opportunities to score as balls were passed across the D but with no player there to receive and shoot.
Vitally, Bourne Deeping were first to settle with Rafa Parker-Humby stabilising the midfield area which, in the opening minutes, had been dominated by Bury and had been the source of most of their attacking play.
Bourne Deeping found their shape and started piling on the pressure with great linking play down both wings by Parker-Humby, Hugo Brill and Alex Hutton.
Forwards Ben Brittain, Joseph Moisey and Tommy Armitage began to enjoy a steady supply of balls and the threat of a first Bourne Deeping goal grew.
After constant pressure and two well-practised penalty corners were shot wide, Bourne Deeping finally got the all-important first goal on the 20 minute mark.
Although not scored in the most glamorous of fashions, the goal struck a psychological blow when the umpire played advantage for a foul on Parker-Humby as he passed the ball into the D to Joseph Moisey.
Moisey shot wide of the goal but the ball deflected off of an incoming defender's leg to trickle slowly into the back the net.
Play was all not one-way though with the Bourne Deeping midfield difficult to break down and only one goal separating the two teams as Bury pushed back hard and attacked down both wings.
However, their attacks were met by a solid defensive reply, led by outstanding play from left-back Roddy Mountain and right-back Joe Garner, supported by ever-reliable centre-back Ben Saunders and work-horses Charlie Riddington, Mac Gatward-Clarke and Daniel Feest at shield.
With wingers Brill and Hutton also tracking back to help out, the Bury attacks were simply over-run and barely an attacking pass had made it into the Bourne Deeping D by the half-time whistle.
Bury started very fast from the second-half push back and immediately charged the Bourne Deeping defence.
However, Bourne Deeping had the perfect reply. The defensive wall turned the ball over and a quick outlet saw them surge up the left wing, boot-lacing their passes, untouchable to the opposition D.
Parker-Humby slipped the ball left to Brittain who cracked it home to go 2-0 up within three minutes of the restart.
It really knocked the wind out of the Bury boys and they struggled to recover and truly get back into the game from then on.
As the second half progressed, Bourne Deeping took ever greater control of the game.
Bury kept fighting but they had nothing new to break down the outstanding Bourne Deeping defence, ultimately leaving the keeper, Will Taylor, to enjoy a quiet day watching the game from afar.
The Bourne Deeping attacking play kept the ball mainly in the Bury half and drew a number of free hits around the D plus another missed penalty corner.
At the 15 minute mark, the constant pressure paid off and they finally broke through again.
Moisey was the first to react to a loose ball in the D and struck home his second goal of the day, putting to bed what little hope there was left in the Bury team for making a comeback.
Bourne Deeping then concentrated on a possession game, much appreciated by their supporters on the sidelines and, in the last 10 minutes, they did indeed 'park the bus' with a defensive formation to protect their 100 per cent clean sheet maintained throughout the entire group stage of the competition.
It capped an outstanding team effort and great determination shown throughout the group stage.
With relegation further out of reach than it has been all season, Bourne Deeping went down to a 5-0 defeat despite rousing themselves to travel south for a late pushback against Waltham Forest on Saturday in their Premier B clash.
The going was tough with the Dragons taking some younger players to gain them experience - excitingly for them, first team debuts on the Olympic pitch at Lee Valley.
Waltham Forest certainly had the better of the first half, scoring three breakaway goals to ensure a comfortable half-time lead.
The Dragons changed their approach after half-time, looking to make room down the right hand side in particular and this paid dividends.
A period of possession and heavy pressure was only denied a goal when Waltham’s post man somehow denied Joe Youngs from a deflected short corner.
James Tavernor and Andrew Kind bossed the midfield in that period, defying the lack of rotation in those positions to consistently be in the right place.
As so often happens, a period of pressure with nothing to show for it ended in another counter-attack goal for the home side.
Disputes raged about where the key free hit was taken from but the umpires were not for moving so the goal stood.
The Dragons, with nothing to lose at this point, surged forward again but were caught one more time on the break before the end.
A brave effort that deserved more - perhaps a line that sums up the season.
Two goals from Joseph Moisey and one from George Collins saw Bourne Deeping 2nds take a point in a thrilling Division 3NW encounter with Cambridge South 2nds.
They had to do it the hard way though, giving their opposition a two-goal head start before drawing level, briefly taking the lead, then hanging on for the draw.
A new-look back three of Brewer, Briault and Hutton looked confident early on, transferring play well.
Hutton, in particular - yet another in the line of Under 16s players who have shone this season having been thrown into the second team ahead of schedule due to injuries and absences elsewhere - was exceptional, strong in the tackle and confident in possession, as Briault once again came up with the important blocks, twice diving full length to make the saving tackle.
The opener then was somewhat against the run of play, but there was no disputing it’s quality with a penalty corner, drag flick, fast, low, just inside the left-hand post.
The second was again from penalty corner play, this time a slip left to bypass the runners before a flicked finish which the defender on the line could only edge into his own net.
But the traffic was by no means all one way and Connor Gosnell, another youngster growing with every game at this level, drove the baseline before slipping the ball back but the Dragons were unable to convert.
Andrew Fletcher, having hit the post in the opening few minutes of the match, then came close again, but it was Moisey who brought Bourne Deeping back into the game with a well struck shot to make it 2-1.
A positive start to the second half saw George Collins bring the Dragons level.
Battling hard to regain possession in the opponent’s D when it looked for all the world like the chance had gone, the umpire played a fine advantage and Collins did the rest from close in.
With their tails up and having seen off a number of Cambs penalty corners, Moisey then stepped up for his moment.
He unleashed a fantastic one-timer, lasered from the left knuckle of the D and past the keeper before he could even move following good play involving both wide players Callum Howitt and Tom Day.
But Cambs deserved their point and, though Bourne Deeping will be annoyed with the lack of marking which allowed their player such time and space in the D to score it, a draw was a fair reflection of the game with both goalkeepers earning their keep.
Results from other games mean only a mathematical miracle can stop them from being relegated now, but there is a feeling in the camp that if this group can stay together, then next season could be much more positive.
Bourne Deeping 3rds produced a battling performance in their 2-0 away defeat as they travelled to league leaders Kettering with the bare 11 due to regulars being unavailable.
With seven of their players being defenders, the Dragons knew that they were likely to struggle to get many opportunities to score.
The opening of the game was cagey and soon after Kettering actually took one of their many opportunities to score with a move down the right hand side.
This galvanised the Bourne Deeping team and they set to their tasks even harder.
A second goal was scored as a short corner shot went despairingly past Jack Langley’s kicker and by the post man to nestle into the corner.
If Kettering expected the floodgates to open, a mixture of excellent defending and good team spirit denied them.
Langley made some excellent saves in goal which left Kettering frustrated as they looked to use a more combative style of hockey.
Bourne Deeping 4ths went down to a 3-0 defeat against Peterborough 6ths after a tough start to the contest.
They played the first 15 minutes with nine players and no goalkeeper due to logistical issues. The umpires hospitably held the start back, otherwise it could have been much worse.
As it happened through some stoic defending, hard running in the middle from the likes of Will Taylor, Aaron Waters and Mac Gatward-Clarke and classic team resilience there was no score at half-time by which point the visitors were at a full compliment of players.
The home team, looking for promotion from the league, had the majority of possession and made it count in the second period.
All three of their goals had an air of good fortune to them, but there was little doubt as to where the three points deserved to go.
The Bourne Deeping youngsters grew in confidence despite the scoreline and on numerous occasions played quality flowing hockey.
More by this authorJames Bedford