Match 1 vs Doncaster A: Lost 1 – 0
Match 2 vs Wakefield A: Lost 2 – 0
Match 3 vs York A: Lost 1 – 0
Match 4 vs Thirsk A: Drew 1 – 1
Match 5 vs Bradford A: Lost 1 – 0
A wet and dreary Sunday morning stayed wet and dreary as the sun didn’t quite come out to shine on Hull U12 Boys this weekend. With just a squad affording one substitute and Alex Rispin present in body but not quite so in mind being unwell but determined not to let the team down, it was going to be a tough day for the boys to maintain their position in League B having gained promotion last time.
The first match against Doncaster had very much the “first match after the Christmas layoff” feel about it with too much ball chasing and the team at times forgetting the positional discipline so important to good hockey and that usually comes naturally to them. Despite this the first game was an even contest with only a well struck short corner separating the teams.
Match 2 against Wakefield and Hull once again succumbed to a good short corner strike early on and for the second time the runners again not quite getting out quick enough to block the shot. Wakefield took another chance in open play and went on to win the group without any losses so there was no disgrace at all in this result with Hull again having their fair share of possession but just not enough in the opposing half to threaten the Wakefield goal. A definite improvement from the first game however and following some coaching reminders afterwards of how to charge down short corner strikes Hull did not concede another goal to a short corner throughout the rest of the day.
Match 3 and the improvement continued against York. The Hull passing interplay was back with good triangular moves down the left between Harry Newsham, Alex Newsham and Timmy Heng. Hull were pushing hard for a goal with short corners of their own and then a deliberate foot blocking a shot gave Hull a penalty flick. The first I have seen given in the YYHL so not something any of the boys had practiced much, but Alex Rispin was happy to step up and have a go. He had good pace on the flick but unfortunately dragged the shot just the wrong side of the left hand post. Hull continued to press high for the much needed and deserved win but instead were hit with a sucker punch, and York grabbed a late on the break goal with not enough time left for Hull to respond.
Hull played Thirsk next in Match 4. There was action in both D’s but it was Thirsk who struck first. Hull showed their resilience and team spirit and continued to battle the tough Thirsk team taking quick free hits at the break down and at every opportunity looking to get forward. More action in the attacking circle saw the ball finally breaking to Alex Newsham in space who despite mainly playing in a central midfield position still managed to maintain his 100% record of getting on the score sheet at some point during every weekend he has played in. The game ended 1 – 1 in a match which again could have gone either way.
Despite just 2 points from the first 4 games Hull remained in very good spirits but in what should have been their best chance for a win against Bradford A who also had not had the best of days with no wins, Hull sat back too much and let Bradford come on to them. Bradford ultimately took the early lead in open play after a number of successfully defended short corners, and although Hull pushed for an equaliser the desperation to get forward saw the team once again losing shape and reverting to holding the ball rather than passing it on and getting caught in possession too many times.
It is clear in this second tier league that Hull’s defence is able to hold strong against good opposition and provide a solid structure to the team. Hull need to continue their work on moving the ball on to get forward and ultimately putting the ball in the back of the net against these better teams to reward their generally very good gameplay. Hopefully the U12 Boys will get another chance in League B before the season is out to prove they are competitive at this high level.
Man of the Matches this time went to two players. To Jonathan Kock who is becoming the back bone of the defence and has been close on at least the previous two occasions to getting this award, and to Alex Newsham for playing out of his usual position in central midfield and constantly running and keeping the team going with his consistently positive attitude despite the results.