It’s one of the biggest days in City of Peterborough’s history on Sunday (March 20) when they host Beeston in the semi-finals of the English Hockey Cup at Bretton Gate (2pm start).
A glance at the Beeston squad list confirms the difficulty task facing the city side against a National Premier Division side who are recent three-time winners of hockey’s equivalent of the FA Cup.
City have broken new ground by reaching the last four. They are the last non-National League side left in the competition.
As a result they get to host a top-class side packed full of international talent. Beeston will be without their five current GB/England internationals who are preparing for the Rio Olympics, but they could still bring 19 others with senior or youth caps for GB, England, Scotland and the USA.
But City manager Graham Finding insists his side won’t be over-awed by the occasion or the opposition.
Finding said: “A number of our side have played against, and alongside, members of the Beeston squad, so we will not be daunted by the opposition. Alex Armstrong. for instance won two HA Cup winners medals while playing for Beeston during a recent period when they won the HA Cup three years in a row.
“Beeston do tend to use the competition to give their younger players experience of playing with their bigger stars, but they have had a disappointing league campaign by their own high standards (they finished sixth) so they will be keen to win some silverware and this is their last chance.
“Martin Jones, with multiple England and GB caps, and many goals to his name, will probably be their best-known player on the day.
“And James Alberry is recognised as one of a number of under 21 internationals expected to have a distinguished full international career ahead of him.
“We are looking forward to what should be a great occasion, in front of a large home crowd.”
City will attempt to use the disappointment of last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Wapping as motivation.
City needed to win the game to take the title race into the final weekend of the season, but were 2-0 down at half-time before Shane Vincent grabbed a consolation goal 15 minutes from time.
Wapping won the East title as a result and with it promotion to the National League, but City will still finish a creditable second if they win their final game of the season at fifth-placed Bedford tomorrow (March 19).
Finding added: “It’s a big weekend for us, not just a big day, because we are determined to finish second.
“Bedford is a tough place to go, but we hope we can win the game while also giving some of our senior players a bit of a rest ahead of the cup game.”
National League sides Surbiton and Chichester Priory Park contest the other English Hockey Cup semi-final.
Bourne Deeping host Guernsey in the semi-final of the English Hockey Trophy at Sir Arthur Mellows Village College, Glintion on Sunday (March 20, 1pm). A preview of that game will be posted online tomorrow morning (March 19).