Hockey: Mens 1s secure promotion to National League

To quote Ian Dury and The Blockheads (and why wouldn't you in a hockey match report?) AEHC has Reasons To Be Cheerful: 1, 2, 3.

In what turned out to be a historic weekend for the club, the Mens 1st XI's 3 – 2 victory on Saturday in an end-of-season promotion decider against Didsbury Northern sees them playing National League hockey in the North Conference next season for the first time in the club's history.

Not to be outdone, on Sunday both the U14 girls and the O40 Men then secured their spots in the finals of their respective England Hockey Championships at Lee Valley Hockey Centre in London in a few weeks' time.

Edge's game with Didsbury began with both teams looking cagey and giving the ball away several times. It was Didsbury who drew first blood, firing a short corner to Edge Keeper Sean Hadfield's right. Steady possession from the ever present Edge back line of Mattingly, Trem, Cook and Kay then saw Edge forge a few chances which eventually led to Angus McCormick burying a drag flick to level the score. However, a lapse in concentration resulted in Didsbury taking the lead again going into half time.

Edge came out of the blocks well in the second half, dominating possession and staving off any Didsbury attacks. It was soon 2-2 when Edge stole the ball inside the Didsbury half through SI Parr, who fed the ball to Ben Whitehead. Whitehead fired the ball into Warburton who deflected the ball past the Didsbury goalkeeper to level the score. Spurred on by the massive group of travelling fans, they continued to press forward and, after several missed chances, took the lead for the first time in the game when the ball broke loose in the D and Ben Gregory converted a rebound from a James Warburton strike by slotting it in under Didsbury's keeper.

Didsbury responded by replacing their keeper with a kicking back in a bid to level the score and a string of yellow cards for both teams saw the final few minutes descend into near chaos. A controversial umpiring decision then gave Didsbury a late short corner and a final chance to ruin Edge's day. Thankfully, Didsbury's ex-England player Scott Cordon put his open shot over the bar.

AEHC Head Coach Amanda Partington commented after the game: "I am so proud of our promotion to National League North Conference. This demonstrates not only the team's determination and passion to be the best they can be, but the club's strength in developing players to compete at this level. This is a landmark position for AEHC and will inspire and drive the whole of the club to new levels. A huge thank you to every player involved, the club's backing and our fantastic supporters."

Not to be outdone by their slightly sprightlier counterparts, The Mens over 40s headed south to Thames Ditton on Sunday to face Old Cranleighans in the semi final of EH o40s Championships. Despite trailing 1-0 for most of the second half, Edge pushed on and eventually found the equaliser with a minute to go when Julian Scarsbrook smashed the ball into the D and Phil Benton deflected the equaliser. This took the game into a nerve wracking series of penalty strokes which Edge won 4-1.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the U14 girls also won their way through to the EH finals at Lee Valley after topping their pool of four in the North Regional Finals at Stourport on Sunday. They started well with a 1-0 win over the hosts and followed this up with a hard-fought 0 -0 draw against Bowdon. A 3-1 win over Wakefield was then enough for the girls to book their tickets to London in May.

Photos: Mens 1s celebrate promotion, U14 Girls and Mens Over 40s.

Match report by Sue Polley.

Alderley Edge Hockey Club, Hockey