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West Men O55 Host Regional Tournament 2019

O55 Regional Tournament –27th and 28th April 2019 - Bournemouth

The Men of the West had another successful weekend registering a very creditable and well deserved second place at Chapel Gate, BournemouthOur thanks go to John Stuart who coordinated the whole weekend brilliantly not only for the West Squad but also for the tournament as a whole

On Saturday morning, John Bland’s expert management and Nigel Bowers inspirational team talk set the squad up for agreat start with a 2 – 0 win against the South. Batchelor picked up trademark poacher’s goal either side of half timeto secure a comfortable victory against what has been traditionally strong opposition. The squad gelled well and confidence was high as we went into the second match, against a gritty Midlands outfit. This turned out to be a much more challenging encounter, the long break between matches having a detrimental effect on our momentum. The Midlands had much of the possession in the first half and looked the more likely to score. However, we held on, by the skin of our teeth, with Lance Worth in particular making several timely interventions in defence. As the game progressed, we started to make more inroads and Penalty corners won late in the game looked like they would give us the opportunity to stealvictoryUnfortunately for us, it was the Midlands who had the rub of the green, winning with a late and controversial penalty flick. 

Saturday evening’s entertainment at the club was the traditional festival dinner. It was an excellent meal of roast chicken breast followed by Treacle tart and the happy noise of the many conversations of old friends being reacquainted was deafening. After this the squad sensibly retired reasonably early to the well-stocked bar of the Ocean View Hotel. Weatherspoon’s and Kentucky fried chicken proved too much of a temptation to several of the senior members of the squad although the effects of the Zinger Burger took its toll the next morning on one individual.

Sundays change in formation to 2 3 2 3 yielded immediate results against the North in the Midday Push back. The width that this provided led to 2 quick goals from Purchase and TimNorman. Gower added a third before half time and althoughthe North pulled one back just before half time we never looked like losing. Batchelor and Baker added two superbly worked goals in the second period rounding off an impressive and satisfying overall performance.

In the penultimate match of the tournament, the Midlands sealed the trophy with a 3 – 1 victory over the South. Thismeant that we needed a result against a struggling East side in the final match to confirm second place. We started very well and created several chances but were unable to capitalise. This gave the East renewed energy and they started to play with a sense of purpose and confidence which had previously been missing. As the game went on legs started to tire and the East went ahead. The Men of the West fought back and John Baker equalised with a neatly taken reverse strike only for the East to score the decider with the last play of the match.  

Despite this result, a superior goal difference to the South earned the West second place which went some way to offset the disappointment of the final match. All of the games were played in a tremendously competitive yet good natured spirit and the quality of our hockey was exceptional at times. As usual, the camaraderie of the West Squad was unrivalled and we all look forward to next time and the opportunity to go one better!