City of Manchester book final spots
27th April 2013
City of Manchester water polo teams qualified for all four finals in the British Gas ASA National Age Group Water Polo Championships.
Competing at their home pool, Manchester teams won through from the semi-finals of the junior and youth age groups for both girls and boys after a thrilling day's play at the Aquatics Centre.
The junior boys' semi-final was the tightest match of the day as Manchester took on West Midlands outfit Solihull. Manchester were 2-0 up after less than three minutes play and by the end of the first quarter they had established a 5-1 lead. Despite this Solihull began to gain ground on their opponents and the excitement grew as the scoreline approached 11-10 in favour of Solihull. There were some controversial moments in the game as Manchester had two illegal goals disallowed. There was a roar from the crowd at the Manchester Aquatics Centre as a powerful shot from Manchester’s Tom Hadley in the final quarter drew Manchester up level resulting in extra time.
After almost a full six minutes of extra time Solihull regained the lead, only for Manchester to equalise with three seconds on the clock. The match came down to penalties and the two exhausted teams were clearly nervous as they took their places. Manchester showed their metal and came out on top 15-13.
Captain James Williams said, “That was the best match I’ve ever played in. Two of the best teams in the country, taking it down to the wire, and to win is even better. Every match is different so we can’t let this affect us in the final tomorrow, we will take everything as it comes and play our own game.”
In the Junior Boys second match Lancaster faced Birmingham. A collected Birmingham side played some clever tactics and this was reflected in the final score of 12-9.
Manchester were also on form in the Junior Girls Semi-finals against London Otters. Otters drew first blood but Manchester were not far behind, it was a closely contested match and by the start of the fourth quarter Manchester were edging ahead 8-7. After almost five goalless minutes Manchester started to increase their lead, winning the match 13-9.
Liverpool Junior Girls team took on Birmingham, there was not much to separate the teams in the first quarter, which finished with Liverpool up 2-0. Liverpool soon started to show their grit and by the end of the second quarter had increased their lead to 5-0, they continued to dominate the match, winning convincingingly with a final score of 11-3.
Crawley were next to face Manchester in the Youth Girls Semi-finals. There were chances on both sides but Manchester soon had the upper hand, going into the second quarter 3-0 up. They extended their lead throughout the match, to win 14-6.
Coach, Ella Chadderton, said, “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we played well and got some good early goals. It was a great match and we are now looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, I hope the girls take plenty of confidence away from this win.”
Also, in the Youth Girls Semi-finals Liverpool faced London Otters. The lead changed hands several times with both teams looking determined, the match was level at 2-2 at the end of the first quarter, 5-5 at the halfway point and 8-8 at the close of the third quarter. Both teams were clearly tired after an intense match but fought hard until the last whistle, Liverpool had a little more to give and secured their place in the final 12-11.
In the Youth Boys Semi-finals Solihull put in a spectacular performance against Lancaster City. Solihull read the field well and made great space to accrue a 6 goal lead over their opponents at the halfway point. In the last moments of the game Lancaster had several last minute consolation goals but it was too little too late and the final score was 20-8 to Solihull.
City of Manchester Youth Boys were in action again against Exeter. Exeter took the early lead but good pressure from Manchester kept them in contention and by the end of the second quarter Manchester had established a strong lead of 7-4. In the third quarter Exeter played consistently and were not short of chances, but it wasn’t enough to challenge a tough Manchester side who progressed to the final with a winning score of 14-8.