SWINDON Under 12 boys produced a valiant effort at the South West Finals but fell just short of progressing through to Nationals.

Swindon won three matches of the six they played at the event at Millfield School, losing two and drawing one.

The first match against Gillingham was a tight affair and the Wiltshire side were unusually tentative before taking the lead with a well-taken Aaron Alexander goal. They were only denied a win by a last-second equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Gloucester were up next for the youngsters, a game which resulted in a 3-1 defeat, before Swindon bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Yeovil, as James Young and Nat O’Dwyer got on the scoresheet, and a narrow 1-0 win against Penzance, as forward Charlie Main shone and netted the only goal.

Historically strong Isca were the opposition in the team’s penultimate game and, with a solid display from Sean Astey Manning in goal, Alexander’s effort was enough to settle the tie in Swindon’s favour.

A victory over Bath Buccs in their final pool match would have been enough to send Swindon to the national finals but they were edged out 1-0.

Coach Mark O’Dwyer said afterwards: “We needed beat Bath Buccs in final game to have a chance of making Nationals. However, we lost a close match 1-0 after they scored a rather dodgy early goal.

“Despite just falling short of making Nationals I am extremely proud of the team and they produced a great advert for Swindon Hockey.

“Many thanks to all the parents and supporters.”