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Dragons Festival Swansea 6-7 August 2016

Scottish Thistles once more took part in the Dragons Festival in Swansea on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August 2016. With the late withdrawal of Midlands the festival was left with eight teams, each team playing five matches.

Squad

Tim Lorimer was Manager of a squad of fifteen players captained by Mike McInally.

Brian De Mattos, Donald Dunbar, Ian Dunbar, Chris Heeps, Derek Johnstone, Ian McCreath, Mike McInally (Captain), Neil McKenzie, John Michalik, Duncan Mitchell, Dave Morgans, Dick Pearce, John Smith, Tony Walker, Neil Ward.

Scottish Thistles Squad Dragons Festival 2016

Match Reports

Match 1 Scottish Thistles 0 England LX Over 60 5

England were using this as their first “official” training weekend for the 2017 European Grand Masters and had a very strong team. Thistles held them at bay for the first ten minutes when following a short corner well saved by Dick Pearce the England forward followed up and scored. Attacking in numbers was causing us problems in defence and it was no surprise when we conceded a second goal from another short corner to make the score 2-0 at half time. As the game progressed England grew in confidence and closed us down whenever we had possession and they scored three second half goals from open play. Excellent performance from Dick in goal.

Match 2 Scottish Thistles 1 Dragons 60s 2

A much improved performance helped by the arrival of Derek Johnstone to bolster the midfield gave us hope of not suffering another loss. Unfortunately after about 10 minutes we were caught in possession and the Welsh side took the lead. This setback galvanised Thistles with Derek and John Michalik making some great channel balls to our forwards and it was after one of these that saw Duncan Mitchell have a shot saved only for Brian De Mattos to be on hand to slot home the equaliser. There was nothing between the teams in the second half with our defence dealing with all the Welsh attacks and it was disappointing that Dragons scored late on to edge through with a win.

Match 3 Scottish Thistles 0 England LX Over 70 1

England LX fielded a number of underage players which made them a strong team. Whilst the English dominated possession, the Thistles' 3-4-3 formation was allowing Ian McCreath and Dave Morgans to make some excellent runs in the channels but it was the final ball that constantly let us down and although we created plenty of chances we were unable to finish. Dick in goal was keeping England from scoring. The solitary goal came from an English free hit on our 22 which found an England player unmarked.

Match 4 Scottish Thistles 1 Dragons 70s 1

Our first point of the weekend. Thistles played their best hockey of the weekend with commanding performances from Neil Ward in defence including a great goal line clearance. How we managed not to win this game is difficult to understand as we had two goals disallowed (from Brian De Mattos and Chris Heeps), should have had a penalty stroke and commanded the game. Drago’s scored following a rebound from a short corner which was a result of their first attack. Another probing run from Derek into the Dragons circle created a short corner from which Ian McCreath scored from a rebound which - nothing more than was deserved. The Dragons keeper made some excellent saves to keep Scottish Thistles at bay and the match ended in a draw..

Match 5 West 3 Scottish Thistles 1

We knew this would be a tough game as again like England LX Over 60, West had a squad who had playedtogether regularly and would soon be attacking in numbers. We held firm for about fifteen minutes until a well worked attack led to West taking the lead. Another goal before half time gave West a 2-0 lead. A change in formation for Thistles at half time enabled us to break down West’s attacking strength. Thistles were getting more into this game and a team effort of passing and chasing the through ball led to Dave Morgans finishing off what was probably our best move of the weekend, slotting the ball past the advancing keeper. The West were rattled with this response and Thistles in trying for the equaliser over committed and left a three on one. Neil Ward, who again had made a goal line clearance, had an impossible task as to who to mark and they duly scored to win the game 3-1.

Overall the scores did not reflect how a scratch Scottish Thistles squad played. Everyone contributed their best and we played some good hockey, unlucky that we could not convert some of the chances we created.

Following the last game we made the traditional visit to the Tennis Club bar and voted Ian McCreath as the Scottish Thistles player of the tournament and looked forward hopefully to returning in 2017.

Tim Lorimer