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Airthrie Undefeated at the Olympic Stadium25th February 2016

Written by: Richard Wright

On Thursday, 11 February Airthrie entered the National ISA Boys' Hockey Tournament at the Olympic Hockey Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Park. This was the first time that Airthrie had entered a national festival and therefore we did not know quite what to expect.

The boys entered the national stadium with its iconic blue astro at 10.30am, ten minutes before the first match. A quick change in the same rooms as the Olympians of London 2012 gave five minutes for the team to warm-up and prepare for the first match.

Sixteen teams had entered the festival, competing in four pools of four teams, all battling for a successful run in The Cup or The Plate. The boys knew that with each game being only 8 minutes one way, scoring an early goal was crucial.

In the first match, players were not sharp enough and chances were missed that have should have been converted. Defence was strong, however, and the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

The second match was played in the main stadium with the electronic scoreboard and banks of seating looking down upon us from all sides. This seemed to inspire the boys and quick, link-up play down the wings gave the opportunity for an early goal scored by Dylan Watts-Jones. Airthrie never looked in danger in this match, beating Ashton House comfortably.

After a draw in the third match, Airthrie reached the half way stage undefeated. However, the team had drawn more matches than they had won, therefore Airthrie progressed to The Plate Competition at the second stage.

In The Plate quarter-final, Airthrie dominated play with strong team work. A goal was scored early on by Ben Shaw and it appeared as if there was going to be an easy win. However, our defence lost concentration for a short moment and Ashton House equalised with a break-away goal. This meant the scores were equal at the final whistle, so a penalty shoot-out followed. Ed Anstey, our goal keeper, was on top form and prevented Ashton House scoring, while two goals were converted by Charlie Watkins and Ben Shaw in reply.

In the semi-final, Airthrie met Oakfield School who had won every match up until this stage. The match was equal and well balanced. Wolfie Cross marshalled the defence well after the scare of the previous match. Ben Shaw was moved to Centre Forward, in the hope that Airthrie could convert some of the excellent chances that were being created by the strong wing play of Charlie Watkins and Edward Craske. This was a match of missed chances and both sides felt as if they could have won by the end.

Therefore a penalty shoot out followed. Oakfield started strongly, scoring with the opening penalty. Charlie Watkins scored in reply, however this was to prove to be the only goal scored by Airthrie as the goal keepers from both teams performed well but Oakfield scored at the death.

Airthrie remained undefeated throughout the whole tournament, finally losing the semi-final penalty shoot out 1-2. The School team gave an excellent all-round performance and a very enjoyable day was had by all.

Squad: Ed Anstey, Dylan Watts-Jones, Sam Gilder, Wolfie Cross, Ben Shaw, Charlie Watkins, Edward Craske (captain) and George Hobbs.

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