Belhaven Hill School

Co-ed Boarding & Day School for ages 5-13

Boys' Hockey: 1st v Strathallan

Boys' Hockey: 1st v Strathallan

The 1st boys’ headed north today to play their first match of the season against Strathallan Prep. The opening match of the season is always interesting as it can provide a real insight into how the season is going to go. For this group, it was especially interesting as none of them have played a hockey match in two years.

I wasn’t particularly worried about the score in this opener as it is very much about development at this stage so I kept it simple and set the boys two targets: high work-rate and distribute the ball into the wide channels.

We started with the hit off and immediately pressed hard but couldn’t finish the move off. From then on it was to and fro for a while. Overall, we seemed to have the advantage but they countered through one player whose speed and dribbling skills allowed him to get past player after player. In the end, it took a brilliant counter-attack by our captain for the season, George to get our first goal. He picked up the ball at top D and burst forward, played a nice little one-two with James, getting the ball back at the top of the opposition D and then slammed it home. 1 – 0.

That seemed to knock the wind out of Strathallan’s sails a bit and we dominated for much of the rest of the half. Johnnie, as long striker up front, got into some excellent areas, Charlie worked hard and learned on the job at right defender while Campbell held his position well as left defence and made some good tackles. Jamie was good in attack but didn’t always fall back when we lost possession, leavening those behind him with a lot to do and Walter linked up well with the defence and with James at centre mid. James controlled much of this period of the game, making some good runs but also linking up well with George at the back and Johnny up front.

Eventually, the pressure told and we were awarded a penalty corner which James converted for our second goal. 2 – 0.

About 7 minutes later, a turnover deep in our half saw the ball passed to James who surged upfield, linking up brilliantly with Johnnie who fed it back to him and from there, James slotted it home for our third for the half. 3 – 0.

At half time, I expressed how pleased I was with much of what the boys were doing but asked them to work on not ‘diving in’ to tackles – rather keep moving and balanced and force the attacker to make decisions.

Strath picked up the pace a bit in the second half and we didn’t quite do the same. We didn’t play badly but just lacked the final touch and could not convert our many opportunities. Strath, on the other hand, did. They only had about 5 scoring opportunities but converted three of them, the last in the final minute of play, to force a draw. This, despite the best efforts of Harry in goal; Harry had a very good game indeed, making a number of saves, looking confident and bossing his area – lots of promise there.

It was a pity to draw, in some ways, as I definitely thought that we were the better team but I wasn’t too disappointed as the boys continued to work hard and distribute the ball well, just as I’d asked them to do.

There is much promise in this team and they will certainly build on this performance. It looks as if it could be an exciting season.

Final Score:  Belhaven Hill  3  -  3  Strathallan Prep

Player of the Match: George for his excellent breakaway goal which got our season off to a grand start, and for his hard work and distribution at the back.