England Men's 050s defend their Home Nations Title in Ireland

England Masters Over 50s Men

Home Internationals 2017 – Lisnagarvey HC 

 

England O50s retained the over 50s Cup with a series of performances that got better as the weekend progressed.  This was expected as some new players blended into the squad and the style of play expected by this successful group.

Over the winter there as a been a number of trials and practice matches and this was a chance to test where we are in the three games.  The squad contained a number of players making their debut in this age group, Angus Jones, Peter Langley, Gary Stoneley, Luke Watson and Gary Nash.

The tournament is on a round robin basis against the other home nations.

Friday evening vs Scotland 

It would be fair to say that this game followed the trend of the weekend with the team getting stronger and more cohesive as we progressed.  It took a whole for the squad to find their feet with a number of positional changes and some first touches that needed improving.  However, things improved with the passing becoming faster and accurate and some players getting up to the level of intensity required at international level.

The scoring was opening by Ian Phillips with a shot that took a deflection on the way in and this was followed just before half-time with a debut goal from Gary Nash, who displayed a deft piece of control to create a nice opening and finished off.

At half time the coach and the captain re-iterated the need to up the pace of the game both on and off the ball and the second half saw England dominate but unable to convert a number of good circle penetrations.  The penalty corners which have bene a strength of this squad over the last three years failed to fire all weekend and the team had to rely on further open play goals from Jeff Longden and Colin Cooper to put the game beyond doubt.  Unfortunately, a loss off concentration allowed Scotland to score a breakaway goal in the last minute which was to be the only goal conceded all weekend.  With the final score 4-1 England knew Ireland may pose a tougher test.

Saturday afternoon vs Ireland

Saturday started with a change of start time to later in the day which slightly changed the preparations.  The Ireland team chose to play a very deep press with plan to attack in numbers on breakaways.  England chose to play a patient game and tried to found opening but started by trying to force the ball.  Due to the amount of water on the pitch holding your footing was becoming a problem and unfortunately we lost Ian Phillips to an ankle injury which kept out for the rest of the weekend.  Others were quick to step up and fill that driving role and after a couple of adjustments the patterns of play resumed.

The second half saw Ireland continue with the deep defence, possibly hoping for a draw and trying to take the trophy on goal difference.  However, England were determined to win this game and 10 mins into the second half Gary Nash was able to get a stick on a cross/shot and deflect it past the keeper.  This was quickly followed by Mike Gillet converting a stroke given after bad tackle of Jeff Longden when through on an open goal.

At this point Ireland decided to start attacking but the defence held firm for a good win

Sunday morning vs Wales

After a good team bonding evening England took on Wales knowing that a win would see them retain the trophy.

With Ian Phillips out of action the coach rana number of permutations through midfield and this variation unsettled the Welsh marking creating  number of chances.  Jeff Longden was first on the score sheet with a trademark shot from the top of the D after some creative play down the right by a number of players combining well to move the defence.

This was quickly followed by another Mike Gillet stroke conversion after a defender git in the way of a goal bound effort.  With the score at 2-0 at half time the team lifted the intensity of play and with frequent rotations they were able to impose their high intensity brand of hockey but combined it with some good ball movement through the midfield.  The accuracy of passing improved and Kevin Miller was unlucky immediately from the push back with a series of slick passes giving him to deflect just in front of the keeper but was unlucky with his effort coming back off the bar.  This would have bene the goal of the weekend, but…., they team were in stride and added three more goals in the second half with Nash, Miller and Longden all claiming goals to mean England won 5 nil and the trophy was retained for the tenth consecutive year.

Though all the team played well, special mention must go to the goalkeepers, Plastow and Stoneley who kept the defence well managed and made some great saves when called upon

After the event the captain, Richard Purchase stated that whilst this was a good result, the squad still needed to improve in certain aspects     

The coach John Dixon , was pleased with the way the squad had come together and played some good quality hockey at times but was a bit disappointed that not a single penalty corner was converted.

This group of players plus the extended squad will now commence preparations for the European Championships in August.