PLAYER-COACH Peter Millar says Jersey’s men have earned the right to feel excited as they bid to create history in England Hockey’s Tier-2 Championships.
The Islanders are set to travel to East Grinstead 2nds tomorrow, targeting a first appearance in the final of the national knockout tournament.
Their semi-final clash will represent a second consecutive outing against a Premier League club, having met, and beaten, 2019 champions and competition favourites Surbiton 2nds on home soil last month.
Jersey finished 2-1 up in the quarter-final clash at Les Quennevais last month, following goals by Sam Habin and captain Tom Millar, but the coach holds a strong urge to remain grounded.
‘We’re absolutely not favourites at all,’ said Millar.
‘We have beaten Surbiton but if we had faced East Grinstead before them they would have been a daunting prospect too.
‘The result we got here was phenomenal and they certainly won’t be underestimating us, but they’re similar to Surbiton in that they’re a Premier League club with huge pedigree in that league and in European competitions.’
Gaining an understanding of their latest opponent’s strengths has proved difficult, but Millar is unfazed.
‘All we can do is focus on ourselves,’ he said. ‘We did that well against Surbiton and we’ll hope to replicate that. Everyone had a good game; there were no individual performances … everyone just did their job spot on.
‘I said to the guys in training that they have all earned this feeling and should be excited for it. The pressure we’re feeling should be a privilege, because we’ve all worked so hard to get here.’
Defender Anthony Kay is ruled out of the tie with an injury sustained playing cricket, while Jamie Watling is unavailable. Tom Bolton returns to the squad, though, having missed the quarter-final, and star goalkeeper Piers Brandie will again marshal the goal-line, following superb performances both against Surbiton and for Crusaders in the Jersey Hockey League.
‘It’s fantastic to have a goalkeeper you can rely on,’ Millar added.
‘We hope he’ll continue his recent form.’
Jersey’s only other semi-final appearance in the Tier-2 Championships came in 2019, when they were beaten 10-3 by Repton.
Jersey: Piers Brandie, Ned Crosby, Tom Sibley, Joel Dudley, Robbie Forrest, Peter Millar, Owen Evans, Bill Millar, Tom Bolton, Tom Millar, Phil Cuming, Sam Dunstan, Jamie Bolton, Sam Habin, Simon Hurry.