‘We’ll be back next year’ - Apted calls for reaction after Wisbech’s EH Trophy heartbreak

FORMER New Zealand international Brad Apted has challenged Wisbech Hockey Club to return stronger next year after their EH Trophy dream ended in heartbreak.

Sunday’s 5-4 semi-final defeat to Gateshead denied the 39-year-old - and fellow experienced stars Jonathan Shippey and James Sheppard - the chance to play in their third EH Trophy final.

But Apted, who represented his country before moving to Wisbech, has called on the club’s stalwarts to return for another cup bid next season.

He said: “Time is running out for some of us - but we’ve definitely got a few more years left. If we stay fit we will certainly be back to try again.

“There’s always next year and if we play well that trophy is not out of our reach.”

Apted, who has played for Wisbech since 1998, added: “I always go out there and give 100 per cent - it doesn’t matter if it’s Wisbech or New Zealand.

“If you haven’t got that frame of mind then you might as well not play. You’ve got to be hungry and passionate for it.”

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Gateshead cruised into an early 3-0 lead on Sunday but Wisbech almost pulled off a dramatic comeback. Sam Blunt and Apted made it 3-2 before the hosts restored their lead with two more goals.

Gavin Johnstone and Blunt scored in the final 10 minutes to set up a frantic finish - but Wisbech were unable to complete the fight back.

Goalkeeper Sheppard, who was substituted three minutes from time in a desperate bid to score a late equaliser, said: “It’s the first time that I’ve ever been substituted for an outfield player.

“It was a good idea and it would have been brilliant if it had come off. It shows how desperate we were to win it.

“I think if we’d have had five more minutes we would have done it. Sadly there always has to be a loser, but I think we’ll be back next year.”

Wisbech visit table-topping Blueharts in the league tomorrow.