JERSEY Boys under-16s’ run in the England Hockey Boys U16 Tier2 KO Championships came to an end in the round of 16, falling 2-0 at Havant College to the excellent English side, Havant Hockey Club.
Facing an outfit who are top of their respective league and regularly winning matches by ten goals or more, the Islanders knew they were in for a tough game.
Coach Bill Aston said: “The boys can come away from this with their heads held high.
“The game turned on one chance, which is hard to take for sure.
“But as they had done all day, our lads’ response was to work hard, press hard, and win the ball back.
“We created our own chances and could have nicked a draw to take it to penalty flicks in the dying seconds, but it just wasn’t to be. But we at Jersey Hockey are incredibly proud of them for their performance in the cup this season.
“I know they have, most importantly, enjoyed it immensely, bonded as a group and learned loads from the experience.”
The opening exchanges were cagey from both sides, with Havant dominating possession. But Jersey – well disciplined and pressing hard – made life tough for the Hampshire team.
Both sides had chances throughout the first period, as Ben Heelis and Sydney Smith in midfield made life difficult for the home side to make inroads.
When they did, they met a firm defensive wall with Harry Newbald and Barney Aston holding strong in the middle and Beau Johnston-Scott and Oliver Ferguson patrolling the flanks.
The Jersey forward line — rolling between Riley Johnston-Scott, Jake Le Boutillier and Louis Bell — started to press harder and broke down Havant moves early to create chances on the break.
Strong home defence stopped the Islanders’ quick counters.
Havant, in turn, had chances at short corners but Jersey goalkeeper Will Wilson was sharp and equal to all of their efforts and the sides went in 0-0 at half time.
The second period took a similar shape with Harry Cutting and Herbie Buchholz coming infield to keep the Havant wide players at bay.
The hosts started winning some short corners, but Wilson once again proved faultless in goal and more than equal to everything the home side threw at him.
Slowly, the Caesareans started creating more chances themselves and arguably had the better of the scoring opportunities.
Rory Baines turned well and just pulled his shot from close range wide of the mark.
Riley Johnstone-Scott also had a chance to break the deadlock, as he broke through one-on-one with their keeper, who closed down the angle quickly to save and also get in the way of the second rebound shot.
With five minutes left on the clock, the hosts were awarded another penalty corner, which was finally converted to give them a late lead.
The travelling boys created an overload on the field by removing goalkeeper Wilson and could have stolen a richly deserved equaliser when Ferguson drove a sharp cross that was just agonisingly out of reach of two oncoming attackers.
With Jersey pressing high for an equalizer, Havant found a way through and broke away to score their second in an open goal with the last touch of the game.
Jersey Hockey Boys U16: Will Wilson, Barney Aston, Rory Baines, Louis Bell, Riley Brennan, Herbie Buchholz, Harry Cutting, Oliver Ferguson, Ben Heelis, Ed Hodgson, Riley Johnstone-Scott, Beau Johnstone-Scott, Jake Le Boutillier, Harry Newbald, Sydney Smith.