It was damp and dreary conditions that welcomed Nottinghamshire and Cornwall as they started off the 2017 B division pool hosted at the Nottingham Hockey Centre.
With the pitch proving quite slippery due to the weather and several players loosing their footing early on, it was Cornwall who started the better, and Ben Eddy put them ahead after only 4 minutes. Nottinghamshire gradually found their feet and, shortly after the break, Sam Dixon pulled them level with a trademark drag flick PC finish.
Cornwall replied and retook the lead when Josh Pearce finishing from free play, before Nottinghamshire completed the scoring when Charlie Brook deflected in from another well worked Nottinghamshire PC and the game ended 2-2.
The second game of the day saw Derbyshire, newly promoted from the C Division, take on Northumberland, a side relegated from A Division. Derbyshire stormed into the lead within the first minute when Chris Beastall finished nicely, before Northumberland got into their stride. Guy Draper doubled Derbyshire’s lead just 10 minutes later. Northumberland finally started to pull together and got a goal back, through Jonathan Stoddard, just before half-time. The second half was a cagey affair. Both side defended well and stifled any free flowing attacking play. Final score 2-1 to Derbyshire.
Game 3 saw Herefordshire face Nottinghamshire. The sides have met several times before in the County Championships and the end result here was no different to their recent meetings. Eight goals, including a hat-trick from Nottinghamshire’s Ryan Day plus one a piece for Alex Davies, Manny Soar, Charlie Brook, David Ebbage and skipper Adam Innocent was more than enough to counter the Herefordshire goals by Andy Rogers, Stuart Goddarzi, Hary Ellis and Nicko Evans.
Game 4 saw Cornwall take on Northumberland. It was all evenly balanced before a rush of blood by Northumberland’s goalkeeper, Jordan Thompson, saw him take out a Cornwall forward illegally, give away a Penalty Stroke and receive a 10 minute yellow card on 12 minutes. This put Cornwall in control. Josh Pearce converted the stroke and, with Northumberland without a goalkeeper on the bench and forced into to playing with a ‘kicking back’, found themselves 3 down, with further goals from Dom Proctor and Cuthbert Sheppard. Northumberland did pull one back when Andrew Hayes converted a penalty corner, but Cornwall replied to regain their 3 goal lead through Sam Dunston before Thompson returned. Northumberland pulled to within two, right on the stroke of half time through Ritchie Brown and set up a nervous second half, especially when Chris Traynor scored for Northumberland to make to 4-3. A nervous 28 minutes later Cornwall were relieved to hear the final whistle with no further goals.
The final game of day 1 saw Derbyshire take on Herefordshire. Derbyshire were looking to finish the day on maximum points and Herefordshire were looking to consolidate after their earlier loss to the hosts. Herefordshire defended stoutly and it wasn’t until 33 minutes that Derbyshire finally broke them down when their skipper, Ashley Blakemore, converted from a penalty corner. The second half followed much the same vein and Herefordshire could provide no response to further goals by Derbyshire’s Joe Fell and Chris Beastall at the end of day one.
The weather on day two couldn’t have been more different than day one. Clear blue skies and bright sun welcomed the counties as they arrived at the host venue.
Cornwall and Herefordshire kicked off proceeding and Herefordshire found Cornwall too strong, providing no reply to a brace from Cornwall’s Sam Dunston and one a piece for Nic Stanlake, Henry Lewis and Cuthbert Shepherd.
Game two saw hosts Nottinghamshire face Northumberland. The last time these two sides met it resulted in a 4-4 draw on a dreary day in Durham. However, on this glorious day Nottinghamshire were slow out of the blocks and Northumberland quickly took control. 3 up in 12 minutes through a Penalty stroke, converted by Chris Traynor, before adding his second and another from James Talbot. Nottinghamshire’s Ryan Day pulled one back just before half-time and Lukasz Urbaniak made Nottinghamshire’s defecit one, just after. However, two further goals form Northumberland’s captain, James Redpath, and with Chris Traynor completing his hat-trick, the game was safe despite Nottinghamshire’s Charlie Brook scoring a late consolidation goal.
In the third game table topping Derbyshire faced Cornwall. A close first half saw Derbyshire’s Chris Beastall get the only goal, before 3 goals in six minutes, from Jacob Foster, Adam Foster and Ben Everett-Li put the game beyond Cornwall. They didn’t give up however, and goals form Martin Rowe and Cuthbert Shepherd pulled it back to 4-2 before Derbyshire’s Adam Foster scored his second to make to 5-2 to Derbyshire. A late consolidation from Cornwall’s Sam Dunston would prove invaluable later in the day.
Two unanswered first half goals from Northumberland’s Andrew Hayes and James Redpath saw them take a 2-0 lead at half time in their last game of the weekend against Herefordshire. Two further goals in the second, from Andrew Titmus and James Talbot were more than enough bearing in mind that Hereford’s only goal came from Harry Ellis.
The weekend ended with what all the local spectators had been waiting for. A local derby game as Derbyshire took on Nottinghamshire. Cornwall’s results earlier in the day meant that Nottinghamshire needed to win by 2 clear goals in order to qualify for Finals day. Derbyshire had already secured their place. But, local rivalry meant that only a win for either side would do. Notts gained the upper hand on 6 minutes when Ryan Day increased his tally for the weekend with an excellent penalty corner finish. The close proximity of the counties meant that both sides’ players knew each other extremely well, many playing for the same clubs, and it may have been brought to bear when a crunching challenge by Nottinghamshire goalkeeper, Chris Burton, saw Derbyshire awarded a penalty stroke just 60 seconds later. This was calmly converted by Derbyshire’s Adam Foster. Nottinghamshire’s Charlie Brook restored Nottinghamshire lead on 13 minutes, only for Adam Foster to pull Derbyshire level again on 20 minutes. Derbyshire led for the first time on 26 minutes through Guy Draper, before Nottinghamshire pegged them back to 3-3 when Sam Dixon scored from a penalty corner. 2 goals in a minute from Derbyshire’s Dan Molloy and Guy Draper extended their lead to 2, before Nottinghamshire’s Charlie Brook’s penalty corner deflection saw the hosts only trailing by one at half-time. Nottinghamshire’s captain, Adam Innocent, scored early on in the second half to bring the sides level before they took the lead again through Ryan Day. Two goals from Derbyshire’s Chris Beastall saw them regain the lead before Notts captain again pulled the sides level. In the last 10 minutes Nottinghamshire piled on the pressure, but some good saves from Derbyshire’s goalkeeper, Rich Harman, kept the score at 7-7. An over-time penalty corner by Sam Dixon hit a Derbyshire foot for a repeat as Dixon went off in agony having taken a stray stick to his hand. The subsequent and final penalty corner of the game was saved by Harman to keep the score 7-7!
So Derbyshire and Cornwall qualify for finals day after an exciting and thrilling two days of hockey.
|North Notts HC||–||1|
|Nottingham Players HC||1||–|
|Nottingham Trent University||–||–|
|Sikh Union (Nottingham) HC||1||–|
|University of Nottingham||–||–|
|West Bridgford HC||1||2|
|Worksop (Men) HC||–||–|
* As well as county club players, those players living, born or studying in the county also qualify to play
|Penalty Corner||Field Goal||Total|
|Adam Innocent ©||3||3|