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Lakes Tournament Cockermouth, Cumbria 21-22 July 2017

Eight of the Scotland Over 70 squad for the 2017 European Cup were joined by keeper Dick Pearce and assisted by three underage players travelled to Cumbria on 21-22 July 2017. The Lakes Tournament included Scottish Thistles "Over 70", a Cumbria select and the full England Over 75 squad, plus two different England LX sides.

Scottish Thistles 1 (Gordon) England Over 75 Squad 2

Thistles took the field against England Over 75 on Friday 21 July at Cockermouth, Cumbria after travelling down from Scotland the same morning. England took the initiative from the start and Scottish Thistles reacted by sitting back and allowing the English to come at them. The main focus of the English attacks was, as usual, down their right where they made several openings, and it was inevitable that eventually Terry Howlett was able to run virtually unchallenged into the Scottish circle and hit the opener across keeper Dick Pearce. Scottish Thistles were well served by their forwards, Peter Gordon and Norrie Springford, who had made several good runs before England scored, but lacked backup from the Scottish midfield. However they dispensed with the need for backup by working the ball between them through the English defence for Norrie to cross to Peter who scored the equaliser.

It was clear that the Scottish five man midfield in a 'W' formation was not providing the support the forwards needed and captain Alan Auld took the opportunity during the first quarter break to turn the 'W' into an 'M', with Ian Downie playing in front of the back three, and Andy Ferrol and Dougie Turner playing either side of Ian in more advanced positions. This had the effect of stabilising the situation but the forwards still lacked support and Thistles were able to create few chances, having only a single short corner to show for their efforts. Meanwhile England were still creating opportunities, though Dick Pearce was equal to anything fired in at him.

Half time allowed Scottish Thistles to regroup and they started the second half playing some good hockey, working the ball up the field with short passes. Still, the final pass was not good enough and England repleed all the attacks. The goal which proved to be the winner came from an England short corner, the ball being switched about the circle before being lobbed high over the advancing Dick Pearce into the empty net. Alan Auld had to go off with a recurrence of his back injury and the Scots had to complete the match with only eleven players. They upped the pace against the now tiring English but could not find the net again, and England ran out 2-1 winners in what had been a closely contested match, played in a great spirit.

Scottish Thistles 1 (Springford) England LX Red 7

Instead of the expected Cumbria select opposition, Scottish Thistles Over 70 found themselves facing a strong England LX Red team composed mainly of Over 60 players in their second match, on Saturday 22 July. With captain Alan Auld sidelined with a back injury, Thistles were able to call on Paul Bateson who had come to Cumbria with England LX Red, giving them one substitute and a fresh pair of legs.

The English went on the attack from the outset and took the lead after ten minutes when an England LX forward hooked the ball from over his head past Dick Pearce in the Scottish goal, but the lead did not last long. A fine solo run by Norrie Springford took him into the English circle. The brightly coloured English keeper could only parry Norrie's shot back to him and he calmly slipped the rebound into the net to restore parity. The only other goal in the first half was an unfortunate one for the Scots, a shot from the edge of the circle rebounding off the post straight to an unmarked English forward on the penalty spot - he had the easiest of tasks to poke the ball into the empty net. The first half ended 2-1 in favour of England LX Red.

A quick goal by the English straight after half time made the task of the Thistles look a bit more daunting and worse was to follow as LX Red started to take a firm grip in the midfield as their opponents tired. Really the only question was how many and the answer was a total of seven goals without reply. Scottish Thistles at least managing one short corner as the only reward for their efforts.

In truth, the result should never have been in doubt as the game was a mismatch between sides who were two age groups apart. Scottish Thistles can be proud of the fact that they never gave up trying to play hockey even when the goals were raining in against them.

Scottish Thistles Over 70 squad Cockermouth July 2017

Squad

Alan Auld (Captain), Alex Cathro, Ian Downie, Andy Ferrol, Peter Gordon, David Margerison, Dick Pearce (GK) Robbie Robertson, John Smith, Norrie Springford, Dougie Turner, Sandy Weir. Alan Auld did not play on 22 July and Paul Bateson took his place in the squad.