Long Sutton hosted the last round before the Lincolnshire Friendly Under-12 League finals on a windy day at the Peele Leisure Centre.
A total of 11 teams from across the county took part assisted by some of the best young umpires in Lincolnshire.
With county players away, this provided an opportunity for others to step up and prove their mettle in a highly competitive but fairly contested series of matches.
The first match pitched the eventual top two teams against each other – Bourne Deeping Dragons against Long Sutton A.
The match was even through the first half with both teams showing a great style and speed of hockey.
The deadlock was broken midway through the second half when McKenzie East slotted home from close range.
Dragons did not give up and forced a short corner right on the final whistle which was coolly converted to finish in a fair result.
This level of play never dropped all day and it is a picture of the hard work of all the coaches at all the clubs that the standard of hockey on view keeps getting better each year. A massive thank you from all the players to their coaches for the help and support volunteered over the season.
Lindum battled well against the Bourne Deeping Griffins to finish 2-0 before another hard contest between Spalding Lions and Bourne Deeping Dragons.
This was another very even match but eventually Dragons snatched a goal and came out victorious at 1-0.
Long Sutton overcame Lindum 5-0 with goals from Martha Hoyles, George Neale, Josh Norey and East. Brad Coley kept the attacks out with some confident kicking and a watchful eye.
Spalding, Dragons and Long Sutton all beat Griffins and Dragons and Spalding beat Lindum before Long Sutton faced Spalding in the final game.
This was end-to-end hockey with Spalding attacking down the flanks with great purpose but Neale and Josh Woodrow held off the attacks.
Olly Taylor attacked with directness and spent the match running from end to end attacking and tracking the Spalding winger.
Coley again denied anyone getting through. Both teams had chances but neither side could break the deadlock.
Results: BDHC Dragons 1 Long Sutton A 1, Lindum A 2 BDHC Griffins 0, BDHC Dragons 1 Spalding Lions 0, Long Sutton A 5 Lindum A 0, BDHC Griffins 0 Spalding Lions 3, BDHC Dragons 4 Lindum A 0, Long Sutton A 4 BDHC Griffins 0, Lindum A 0 Spalding Lions 2, BDHC Dragons 5 BDHC Griffins 0, Long Sutton A 0 Spalding Lions 0.
The development league features players as young as seven and eight but that doesn’t stop it from being highly competitive and eagerly contested.
Many of these players will be gracing the leagues for many years to come. They are tomorrow’s stars and play with a desire and passion.
The standard of hockey is still high and shows the depth of ability and skill in the county. All the matches were close and there is little between the teams.
Long Sutton fielded two sides. The B team have played together all year and are gelling as a team on and off the field.
Ben Hales finished with the assurance his dad has shown for years, supported by Libby Hoyles who at eight has many more years to terrorise the opposition keepers.
Alfie Braggington in goal is having a storming season with his aggressive style – stopping shot after shot for both B and C team. They finished top with two wins and three draws.
The Long Sutton Cadets were almost all first-time players assisted by Edward Hales who ran the game for the C team and was the stand-out performer.
All of the players enjoyed the experience and showed that hockey is completely inclusive to all as clubs encourage new players and have a team for them.
Results: Lindum B 1 BDHC Hydras 1, Long Sutton B 1 Spalding Tigers 1, Long Sutton C 0 Alford 1, Lindum B 0 Long Sutton B 2, BDHC Hydras 0 Spalding Tigers 0, Long Sutton B 2 Alford 1, Lindum B 3 Long Sutton C 0, BDHC Hydras 0 Alford 0, Spalding Tigers 1 Long Sutton C 1, Lindum B 3 Alford 0, BDHC Hydras 1 Long Sutton B 1, Spalding Tigers 1 Alford 1, BDHC Hydras 1 Long Sutton C 0, Lindum B 2 Spalding Tigers 2, Long Sutton B 1 Long Sutton C 1.