Some 18 teams from 12 local schools played in the final of the Spalding Elementary Schools Hockey Tournaments in Glen Park on Friday night.
After losing the better part of the past two years to COVID-19, it was a relief to all concerned that all five tournaments this school year are now complete.
Hosted by the Spalding Hockey Club, the teams were organized into graded leagues as always – the Advanced and Intermediate leagues having four teams and the Beginner A and Beginner B leagues with five teams each.
The Advanced League got off to a spectacular start as favorites John Harrox A suffered their first defeat of the year, losing 1-0 to Boston-based Tower Road A in their opener.
Harrox A regained his composure after that shock defeat to beat Monks House (2-0) and Gosberton Risegate (7-0) in what turned out to be a game-breaking scoreline.
Monks House, celebrating their first tournament at the top level after being promoted from the Intermediate League, opened their account with an impressive 5-2 win over Gosberton Risegate.
After losing (2-0) to John Harrox A, Monks House bounced back strongly to beat Tower Road A (1-0) in the last game of the day.
Tower Road A, delighted to have beaten John Harrox, were made to work hard by Gosberton Risegate in their second game but managed a late goal to secure a 1-0 victory.
Just one point from their final game would have seen Tower Road A claim the title, but a resilient Monks House had other ideas and defended strongly after taking an early lead.
That meant the top three teams all had six points from their two games and that came down to goal difference.
John Harrox A, with a goal difference of eight, won the title for the fifth time in the tournament’s 11-year history just ahead of Monks House (GD 2) and Tower Road A (GD 1).
The excitement of a tight end wasn’t limited to the advanced league, as the intermediate league title was decided in the dying seconds of the final game.
Ayscoughfee A was made to work hard in their opener for a 2-1 win over Boston-based St Thomas and followed that up with another battle against Tower Road B which ended (2-2) even with honours.
Ayscoughfee A then ended their season with a convincing 3-0 win over St John’s.
Tower Road B started strong with a 3-0 victory over St John’s before being held (2-2) by Ayscoughfee A.
They then faced fellow schoolmate Boston St Thomas in the closing game, needing to win by a two-goal margin to top the standings.
Leading 1-0 at half time, Tower Road B were held to a close by a determined St Thomas side but in the dying seconds managed to break through and score the decisive second goal and claim the League title Intermediate on goal difference.
John Harrox B showed there is strength in depth at school by winning the Beginner A league.
After being held to a goalless draw by Ayscoughfee B in their opener, Harrox B picked up record wins over Gosberton Academy A (2-1), Tower Road C (1-0) and St Norbert’s ( 1-0) to secure the title.
St Norbert’s secured second place on goal difference with 1-0 wins over Tower Road C and Ayscoughfee B just ahead of Gosberton Academy A who also recorded two 1-0 wins over St Norbert’s and Ayscoughfee B.
Spalding Parish topped the Beginner B league winning three of their games, Pinchbeck East (1-0), John Harrox C (3-0) and Gosberton Academy B (3-1) but were denied a clean sweep by the local Surfleet Primary who held them to a goalless draw.
It was a good day for Surfleet who recorded wins over Pinchbeck East (2-0) and John Harrox C (3-0) and scoreless draws with Gosberton Academy B and Pinchbeck East to finish in second place.
They were also the only team in the tournament not to concede a goal.
All the games were perfectly controlled by Spalding Hockey Club referees.