Scottish Thistles in North West England
Carlisle Sunday 19 January 2020
Two sides travelled to Carlisle for matches against England North Over 60 and Over 70 respectively. The nominal Over 60 team went down 2-0 to a younger English side while the Over 70 team, bolstered with some 68/9 year olds, saw off England LX North.
Over 70 Report
An experienced and skilful Scottish Thistles 68/70 side captained by Duncan Mitchell was invited to play an England/ North 70’s side at Carlisle on Sunday 19th. January 2020. Both sides had their fair share of internationals so a close match was in prospect - the English side included two Scottish internationalists in Andy Ferrol and David Margerison, and two Welsh internationalists. The teams arrived to find the pitch white over with frost, which luckily thawed out fairly quickly. However Alan Bain managed to find the one area of the pitch that was still icy and demonstrated his previous week's skiing techniques in the first quarter.
Thistles pressurised the England defence from the start; with the combination of the youthful “two up front” – Sandy Weir and Dougie Morrice, both of whom are qualified to play at Over 75 level – and a hard working midfield four, Thistles were unlucky not to score. The England keeper was under pressure and a couple of our shots just went the wrong side of the posts. Against the run of play, England won a short corner, after a rare break into the Scottish half. An obvious practised set piece corner routine saw England take the lead and the Scots were 1 – 0 down at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors came into the second quarter with vengeance in mind and continued to play the excellent passing game they had started with. Their reward came when a move from the left of defence was worked to the right midfield, with a combination of Alan Bain and Alan Parker getting the ball through to the English circle, where Steve Laux scored the equaliser with a well taken reverse flat stick shot. Continued pressure saw Thistles double their lead, another magnificent build-up of team play setting up Steve Laux with the opportunity for further glory and glorious it was. As England protested to the umpire about an alleged Scottish infringement, the umpire ignored the unfounded protests and allowed play to continue with Scottish possession. Steve certainly made the point, with his shot from the top right hand of the circle, which he blasted into the top left roof of the English goal to put Thistles 2—1 up at the end of the second quarter.
The third quarter was a repeat of the first two with Thistles having the bulk of the play but just missing out on the killer blow. However, the English were starting to reverse the pressure towards the end of the quarter.
The final quarter of the game saw a English resurgence; they started to exert more pressure on the Scottish defence through skilful midfield play, keeping good possession of the ball. The tiring Scottish defenders were determined to take the team to victory and survived till the final seconds, when England won another two short corners. Both attempts were valiantly thwarted and the match ended with an excellent reflex outstretched save by Dick Pearce in the Thistles goal, giving a well-deserved victory to the Scottish Thistles.
This was an excellent performance and fine example of selfless team work, which also gave great entertainment to the gathering crowd watching the game. It was the Duncan Mitchell's first captaincy and a very satisfying victory for him it was too!
Report by Alan Parker and Duncan Mitchell
Over 60 Report
A trip to Carlisle on a rather cold but bright day on 19th January 2020 saw a Thistles side take on a strong and quite youthful Over 60 North of England select. The Thistles team had seven Over 65 players in the squad so we knew we had a bit of a hard game ahead. This was certainly the case in the first quarter when we went down by a silly goal that involved a lot of running off the ball by the English players and some slack marking from our defence and midfield. The second quarter saw us steady the ship at the back and we gradually took control of the midfield by good passing. The linkage between our forwards and midfield was not as good as it could have been however and we were a bit content to sit in the middle doing nice passing but not really pressing the opposition. A second goal for the English came unexpectedly when a long hit went past our left-hand side and three people missed tackles. This spurred the whole team on and by the end of the half we were in complete control but could not score.
The second half saw us press high and wide, pass the ball about really well and get off several shots on target. Only some great saves from the English GK in both the 3rd and 4th quarters prevented our restoring parity. The match ended with us losing -:0 but the second half showed us that we can play good hockey, get shots on target but are just not that clinical in front of goal and that we need to focus in defence from the very start.
Report by Mike McInally
Paul Bateson, Jim Chisholm, Jim Frail, Peter Klein, Steve Macdonald, Neil Mackenzie, Neil MacRae, Cliff Martin, Ian McCreath, Mike McInally, Ian Roberts, John Smith, Stuart Stephen, Ian Wilson
Alan Bain, Mick Christopher, Duncan Griffiths, Steve Laux, Doug Morrice, Alan Parker, Dick Pearce, Martin Petty, Keith Raper, Doug Turner, Tony Walker, Neil Ward. Sandy Weir