A stunning second-half comeback secured one of the greatest days in the history of City of Peterborough Hockey Club.
City travelled to Banbury yesterday (February 7) for the first English Hockey Cup quarter-final in the club’s history. They trailled 2-0 at half-time, but scored five unanswered goals after the break to complete a fantastic victory.
And a great day was completed when the semi-final draw in hockey’s equivalent of the FA Cup pitted them against Beeston at Bretton Gate next month, Nottinghamshire-based Beeston are one of the current giants of the English game.
It was a high quality quarter-final in Banbury. Action flowed from end-to-end in 70 pulsating minutes played out in front of an enthusiastic crowd that included a bus-load from Peterborough.
City started nervously and chances went begging at both ends of the pitch, but Banbury settled better into their game, and put away a short corner conversion, followed by an open play finish to see them 2-0 up at half-time, and looking good value for the lead with City struggling to put their usual flowing hockey together.
An early short corner strike early in the second half could have sealed victory for Banbury, but was pushed wide, and shortly afterwards City broke out before Tom Hagues supplied a great finish. Unfortunately Hagues, who was returning from injury, pulled a hamstring while scoring and played no further part in the contest.
All momentum was now with City, thanks to high-paced, skilful hockey and unselfish team play, with Shane Vincent promptly helping to create two goals. He first set up Sam Anderson, and then he saw a short corner saved, but captain Ross Booth followed up to score and give City a 3-2 lead.
Banbury were rocked as City side continued to press and a clinical passing move ended with Jordan Heald setting up Ross Ambler at the back post for 4-2. Teenager Anderson then claimed his second goal of the game, again set up by Vincent.
Banbury were perhaps relieved to hear the final whistle, in order to save them from further goals which wouldn’t have truly reflected their first-half performance.
City’s Joe Finding won the man of the match award presented by the Banbury chairman for his performance standing in at the heart of defence for the injured Neil Evans, but this was a great all-round squad and club performance from City, with the travelling support playing a massive part.
City had maintained their East Premier A Division title challenge 24 hours earlier with a 3-1 win over Ipswich at Bretton Gate.
City dominated from the outset and took the lead after 15 minutes when a crude challenge on Ambler enabled Finding to fire the home side in front from the penalty sport.
City’s lead was short-lived, with Ipswich catching them high and winning a short corner, which they converted to make it 1-1 at the break.
But the quality of City’s play was generally good, with the exception of in the last 25 yards of the pitch, but, the side stepped up their decision-making and execution in the second half, leading to goals from Ben Read and Jordan Heald, The win kept City second in the table, four points behind leaders Wapping.
Alkex Armstrong, a former Beeston player, was man-of-the-match for City against Ipswich, but key defender Evans broke his hand and will probably miss the rest of the season.