Youngsters show great promise
By Stephen Tabb
Team with 4 x U16s in the side give older opposition run for their money
Tom Harrison led his Summer League side into their first encounter of the season, with a mixed squad of players from across the M1, M2 and Lions teams - looking to use these fixtures as an excellent way to start integrating some of the good young talent we are now fostering at the club.
Sadly, with two no-shows, this fixture was always going to be physically tough, with the opposition arriving with a squad of 14, and so it turned out.
There were some excellent skills on show, and Sils definitely played the more attractive brand of hockey, with Luke Owen initially causing a number of problems in the visitors' defence - however, it was Berkswell's slightly more direct approach that got the initial rewards. With the Sils defence and midfield operating with a number of players from different teams, the marking was not as effective as it could have been, and Berkswell made the most of their first opportunity, breaking from midfield to set up a fairly simple cross from the right, and goal converted from close range passed the despairing Patrick O'Malley in goal.
However, this was not to deter Sils from continuing to play good hockey, and after a number of unsuccessful PC routines, the home side reverted back to the good old fashioned straight strike, with Max Levenger equalising having sent the keeper the wrong way.
The score remained 1-1 at half-time, though both teams continued to have a few half-chances.
The second half started with Sils, again, playing the more attractive hockey, and it was no surprise that they took the lead, this time through another PC, but with a low drag-flick from Captain Tom Harrison thudding into the backboard. Sadly, this lead was only maintained for a minute, as Berkswell hit straight back and through another loose piece of marking, were able to equalise immediately. With Berkswell now sensing the chance to punish defensive lapses by the home team, they pressed forward enthusiastically, and took the lead themselves, this time with a slightly fortuitous flicked shot being deflected in at the far post.
Sils were not to be undone though and again came back, equalising again themselves as Tom Watson played some nice inter-play on the top of the D with James Clapham before creating space to squeeze home a slightly bobbling reverse-stick effort.
Sadly, as legs tired, and Tom Bacon also managed to damage his shoulder, leaving the Sils with only 10 outfield players, Berkswell's extra squad size paid dividends, taking the lead once again with 10 minutes to go, perhaps again with a touch of fortune as their PC routine went wrong, but in doing so left their forward with plenty of space and time in the D to slot home. Whilst the Sils then drove forwards and created a few half-chances, the experienced home defence held firm and took the spoils 4-3.
Disappointing result, but encouraging performance, with Calum Rice and Josh Rice showing excellent composure on the ball when they receiving it in attacking positions, and the other youngsters Harry Peachey and Matt Deakin both picking up Man of the Match votes - the former (Harry) walking away with the most votes in total. DOD went to Tom Bacon for taking a rest after he had bumped his shoulder a little, but in Summer League tradition it was great to see so many people (thanks to the opposition as well) staying afterwards for some excellent catering, and a few drinks in the bar - long may that continue.