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Under-14s triumph on tournament day

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 04, 2014

Ashby tournament winners Leek under 14s celebrate their win. Back row (from left) Charlie Thackstone, Ollie Astle, Dan Lomax. Middle row: Elliot Hammonds, Kieran Smith, Callum Bell, Joe Knott. Front: Adam Knott.

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LEEK Hockey club took three boys teams to Leicestershire for the Ashby junior tournament.

The under-10s were first up and took an early lead in their initial game against Ashby through Alastair Leonard, and then hung on for a 1-1 draw.

A goalless draw against Barton followed before the boys lost to eventual winners Burton.

The boys saved their best to last, though, with another Leonard strike securing the points against Lichfield.

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The under-10s finished a credible third, missing out on the runners-up spot on goal difference, and have made big steps forward since the tournament at Burton.

The under-12s were split into two pools, one strong and one weaker.

Having reached the semi-finals at Burton, Leek found themselves in the harder of the two pools.

It wasn't to be their day, and after a last-minute loss against Loughborough Town, further defeats against good Burton and Leicester sides saw the boys head home without reward.

The under-14s tournament came at the end of a long day and having been runners-up at Burton a fortnight ago, Leek were again in the stronger pool.

They started strongly, though, with a 5-0 win against Loughborough; goals from Charlie Thackstone and Joe Knott putting Leek in a commanding lead. Callum Bell then converted a penalty stroke before Thackstone added a second and Ollie Astle finished off the scoring.

Leek then faced Leicester, who had finished runners-up in the national under-14s tournament.

Leicester had a team in each pool and Leek ground out a tense goalless draw, with close chances at either end.

A 1-0 win against Burton with another Thackstone goal followed, giving Leek revenge for the last-minute loss they had incurred at the Burton tournament.

Leek faced their final pool game against Staffordshire rivals Cannock, knowing a draw was good enough to progress.

Another Thackstone goal gave Leek an early lead and a string of short corners eventually led to Bell driving home to secure the win.

Leek qualified top of their pool and faced Lichfield in the semi-finals.

The Moorlanders had the majority of possession but couldn't create a clear-cut goal-scoring chance, whilst Lichfield looked to hit them on the break.

With Leek's defence of Dan Lomax, Bell and Elliot Hammonds holding firm, Adam Knott was untroubled in goal.

A goalless draw meant penalty flicks would decide who progressed to the final. After Knott saved Lichfield's first effort, Bell, Kieran Smith and Joe Knott converted to send Leek through to a final against the second Leicester team.

The final started at a high tempo with Leicester threatening through their central midfielder, who is arguably the best player in England at this age group.

Leek countered, though, and shocked the raucous Leicester crowd with a Kieran Smith goal.

Leicester pushed for an equaliser, some resolute defending and the woodwork keeping Leek in front.

As the clock ticked down, some beautiful flowing hockey lead to Hammonds converting at the back post to double Leek's lead.

From the re-start, Astle won the ball off Leicester's star player and powered his way through the defence before smashing home to cap a fine 3-0 win and the title.

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