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Tilburg Superveterans Tournament Logo 2016Tilburg International Superveterans Tournament 2016

Scottish Thistles take part in the 60-67 section of this tournament, played in Tilburg, Netherlands on 17-19 June 2016.

Friday 17 June

Scottish Thistles 0 Team Abrahams 1

The opening game was a very close encounter which was decided by a single goal. Thistles started strongly with Neil MacLeod in particular performing admirably in a holding role in front of the back four. A couple of incisive breaks almost allowed Brian deMattos to open the scoring but good goalkeeping denied him. On 15 minutes Abrahams took the lead against the run of play when an unsighted Chris Kalman was beaten by a powerful shot from the edge of the circle. A couple of opportunities to equalise were spurned as first Colin Gallacher then Alan Parker just failed to connect with powerful through balls. Unfortunately for Tony Walker a linguistic miscommunication resulted in an undeserved green card and Thistles couldn't quite manage the draw that their play at least deserved.

Tony Walker, Alan Parker and Neil Macleod in Tilburg 2016

Tony Walker, Alan Parker and Neil Macleod wait for the next match

Team Van Boven 2 Scottish Thistles 0

A very strong Dutch side proved a real test for Thistles in their second game.That said, for long periods Thistles controlled the midfield and restricted their hosts to playing balls sideways across the park. Ian Dunbar and Neil Ward in particular had their respective opponents 'in their pockets' and again the Scots played very compact passing hockey and opened up their opponents on more than one occasion. Kieran McLernan's short corner option nearly provided Brian deMattos with an opportunity at the post but the ball squirmed agonisingly past. An extremely dubious piece of umpiring allowed the Dutch side to pull the ball back from well behind the back line allowing a free forward an open shot at goal. Colin Gallacher managed to block the shot, but unfortunately he used his foot and from the resultant penalty flick the hosts took the lead. With Scotland pressing forward for an equaliser, they were caught chasing the game right on the full time whistle when the Dutch scored a second. The result didn't quite match the performance with Thistles playing really well as a team but just not quite managing the result their play deserved.

Saturday 18 June

Scottish Thistles 0 Team Bijvoet 0

The first match of the second day saw a superb controlled performance from Thistles spoiled only by the failure to turn their superiority into goals. A slight tactical change brought the midfield into a more compact shape and they completely nullified the Dutch midfield. With Colin Gallacher snuffing out their one dangerous forward, Thistles were never really threatened. Chris Heeps was once again inches from connecting with a short corner move which would have brought a winning result. Great game with special mention for Dannie Onn and Neil Macleod for commanding the midfield.

Scottish Thistles 0 Team Abrahams 1

After a very promising start when four golden chances were created and spurned, Thistles got the reward their very lacklustre display deserved with another narrow defeat to their Dutch hosts. Their single goal arriving just after the midway point. Although Thistles huffed and puffed, the inspiration wasn't there and Captain Gallacher's post match analysis left the squad in no doubt that a vast improvement would be needed in their final section game against England LX Red.

England LX Red 0. Scottish Thistles 0

Thistles responded to the stinging criticism with a superb and committed display against table toppers England. Every player performed with distinction, with special mention to Chris Kalman whose penalty save after only two minutes play set the tone for the rest of the match. Tigerish tackling combined with selfless running and very close marking restricted the English side to playing aimless cross field passes or having to redirect the ball backwards. Thistles themselves created as many chances as their opponents and in truth a draw was a very fair result between two very evenly matched sides. What they lacked in individual skills, the team more than made up for in terms of sheer effort and all round team effort. As frequently happens the side were left to question where the side would have finished had they performed consistently to this high standard.

Sunday 19 June

Scottish Thistles 0. Team NL 64 1

Once again, a chronic inability to score proved Thistles' undoing. A very bright start with Brian DeMattos and Murdoch Shirreffs prominent saw half chances created and Thistles looking very strong at the back. One moment of carelessness when the defence was caught ball watching allowed the Dutch to take the lead against the run of play. Within minutes Thistles were presented with the easiest of opportunities to break their scoring duck when an angled drive from Danny Onn came back off the post to the unmarked inrushing Brian DeMattos who almost unbelievably from 6 inches out managed to steer the ball past the post. As a centre half's clearance it would have been coolness personified; as a striker for a team yet to break their scoring duck it was frustrating but at least the forward was in the right place. More concerted pressure brought some frantic clearances by the Dutch but Thistles just couldn't find that vital goal to finish in 8th position and the frustration of watching the final where the English team they had nullified beat another side that had squeezed past Thistles by the narrowest of margins win 2-0 simply served to underline how different things might have been had they managed even the odd goal.

Playing six games against very good opposition and conceding only five goals in total speaks volumes for the fitness and team play. No goals scored however also tells its own story.

Squad

Donald Dunbar, Ian Dunbar, Colin Gallacher (C), Chris Heeps, Chris Kalman (GK), Neil Macleod, Kieran McLernan, Danny Onn, Alan Parker, Murdoch Shirreffs, Neil Ward, Tony Walker