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BU16 Coyotes Win National T1 Supra League

17th April 2024

By Will Hayes

To Nottingham and the U16 Supra League Finals...

Coach Billy Winter, a Spurs fan, is more Arteta than Ange. Whilst others would be sweating over their whiteboard in domestic climes, Winter headed to the foothills outside of Barcelona to consider his pressing options and how he was going to keep Dexter calm over four games and a two night overnight stay.

First up, Repton, coached by Olympian Michael Hoare and with a number of skilful strong players. The boys grew into the game and an old school forehand strike from a PC from Toby B opened the account. Fordy made it 2-0 with a smart finish, however Repton scored a deserved PC goal on the half time whistle. Parents of a certain vintage will remember a TV character called Roadrunner... so fast that all he left in his wake was a puff of dust - if you gave that character a Y1 stick and  some bright blue Mizuno wheels you'd get T Cowling. All weekend he challenged Louis Rees-Zammit’s NFL 40 yard dash PB with his attacking play down from right half. Cowlings threat and midfield pressure told with Fordy then claiming a brace. The game finished 3-1 to Surbiton.  

Match 2 against a technically strong Wotton Under Edge (current indoor National U16 champions). The first ten minutes saw Surbiton play some sublime flowing hockey with the likes of Coxy, Kilkenny and Geering showing ridiculously quick hands and deft out the cat flap  passes that brought 3 goals via Geering, Toby B and Wabi. But Wotton rallied and showed great resolve in scoring a very tidy lobbed goal and shifting the momentum. Thankfully, Toby T has spent many a game with 30 year olds in the Men's 3's who specialise in bants, anger and game management; in the screen he restored order with superb passing, tackling, general nous and a goal to make it 4-1 to Surbiton. The team manager, fearing a Mark Boucher Duckworth Lewis stuff up, kept checking Altius to see whether his assessment of goal difference, goals scored, etc etc was correct; it appeared that unless the team suffered a heavy defeat against Trojans the next day, a berth in the gold medal match was in touching distance. 

Sunday morning and a game vs Trojans (last year's U16 national winners) on Pitch 2. Again, the first ten minutes saw fluid passing hockey and PCs won with Sam A showing blistering pace in the forward line. Unfortunately Surbiton couldn’t find a goal and Trojans took the lead. Skilful work from Jude and Coxy was aiding the Surbiton cause and the circle entries increased: a bobbling ball was latched onto by Dexter who volleyed it home for the equaliser. What happened next was difficult to recall. So excited was the young forward that he sprinted in celebration away from his team mates and attempted some sort of Ninja Warrior/parkour style ascent of the 30 foot surrounding fence. Geering again was showing ridiculously quick hands and balance as he drifted past player after player. The final 10 minutes was not the most fluent but a job well done and a place in the final after a 1-1 draw. 

City of York had defeated Canterbury to top the other pool and be Surbiton's opponents in the final. Again the first five minutes of the final saw great passing hockey but York were strong opponents. Their use of three at the back and skilful midfielders and forwards was causing some opportunities. Hebert showed his effortless pace and sublime first touch in the midfield and inside forward channels to keep York at bay. 

Isaac as GK, had spent the weekend carrying out worldie saves and having an absolutely storming weekend. The absence of England U21 player Bennett and Allsop, key defenders, may have caused some issues. But a combo of Isaac's brilliance and a Saliba and Gabriel new centre-back pairing of Sammie and Toby B helped ensure that  Surbiton had comfortably the best defensive record out of the eight teams in the comp.

The teams went into half time at 0-0. In the second half the Surbiton zonal press seemed to lack a bit of intensity and York scored a deserved goal just after the half hour mark. As the minutes ticked by Surbiton found some periods of fluency: all weekend Jude had been on fire and he used his pace to find some space down the inside left channel to fire in a pass to the far post where Wabi (irony of ironies) pulled out the full length dive to deflect into the goal just above the backboard. Scenes. 1-1. A PC award for SHC on the whistle was saved by a combo of York's outstanding keeper and then by their post man off the line. To shuffles. A combo of Billy and Buckle had spent the last three training sessions working on such a scenario  - and it showed. Clinical finishes - four from four. Kilkenny's finish deserves special mention for its ankle breaking nature. Isaac made two great saves meaning a 4-3  win on shuffles to Surbiton.

Many thanks to the supportive parents and thanks to Billy, Buckle and Frankie for their tireless coaching and management over the course of a long season.