Leek 1XI 0 Khalsa 1XI 0
LEEK’S first team have had a hard few weeks recently in the NOW:Pensions North Conference League.
They have played the top four sides and have come out of these fixtures with just one win in five games.
The last two games saw a traditionally strong defence become unusually profligate, conceding 12 goals.
With a tricky fixture against Khalsa – who boast the league’s top scorer in David Harris – Leek knew they had to up their game.
Due to unavailabilities, Leek had several key players missing from the squad, which made their task even harder.
However, Paul Nixon was back to his best and dictated play from deep midfield, which allowed the rest of the defence to be focused on their roles.
Richard Parker is now settling into being a strong player for Leek and his development bodes well for the rest of the season.
Bobby Dawson moved into midfield and he also showed his growing presence in the side, with another strong, hard-working performance.
With the effervescent Richard Cordon taking the fight to Khalsa in a tough tackling midfield battle, Leek looked up for the challenge.
This battle of attrition was not for the fainthearted, with neither side giving way and goal scoring chances were limited for both sides.
Leek’s best chance came in the first half when when Oliver and Muller linked well to send an in-form James Gough through on goal from a wide angle.
But the Khalsa keeper was up to the challenge and did well to stop his rasping shot.
At the other end, the dangerous Harris was allowed to wriggle away from his markers just once. However, watchful Leek goalkeeper Mark Brazier was quickly off his line and narrowed the angle to make a strong save.
The half-time review focused on maintaining the clean sheet, but also looking carefully to find the channels in the Khalsa defence to find a way through.
But patience and discipline have not always been watch words for this Leek side, with a more cavalier approaching the norm.
So it was that in the second half, Leek attacked more and tried to take the game to Khalsa – however, they were always mindful of the threat on the break.
Strangely, the best goal-scoring chance came when Leek’s left back Peter Sekula crossed the ball from his wing to right back Richard Parker.
He drove inside his marker and sent a rasping reverse stick shot just over the bar.
Leek 5XI 0 Loughborough Uni 4XI 11
IN NORMAL circumstances, a heavy defeat of this nature would be nothing celebrate.
However, against a powerful team that finds itself oddly in the wrong division, the fifths can be proud that they did not lose more heavily.
The whole team battled and showed commitment to the cause.
Ben Knight forced the Loughborough goalkeeper to make three decent saves, and Rory Hollins, Henri Lockett, Alan Hughes tackled well all afternoon.
Steve Franklin made many interceptions and Rich Cordon in the Leek goal made a series of good stops.
Leek 6XI 4 Cannock 6XI 2
THE SIXTHS returned to winning ways through a hat-trick from Bedford jnr and a goal from Davies.
Leek started the game well, pressing the play with good work rate and passing.
It wasn’t long before they opened the scoring, with good work from Hatcher and Smith andthe nimble Bedford jnr slotting home.
The defensive line-up of Gayes, Lomax and Arnold dealt with everything that came their way.
Leek again pressed high trying to score, with Bedford snr showing his son how to play – or was it the other way around? Cannock broke quickly and scored with a bullet of a shot into the corner, past the helpless Knott.
This spurred Leek forward and it wasn’t long before Bedford jnr slotted another home from close range.
A great run from man-of-the-match Smith released Bedford snr, whose goalbound shot was stolen by his son for his hat-trick.
Cannock managed to pull a goal back through a short corner before Davies completed Leek’s scoring from a narrow angle after some good interplay between Brocklehurst and Sinclair.
Surprisingly, the second half was goalless, with some good saves from Knott keeping Cannock at bay.
Towards the end of the game, Bell went on a mazey run, beating four to five players, only to see his shot slip wide of the far post.
All in all, a good performance by Leek with the level of play much improved.
Leek 7XI 1 Sutton Coldfield 0
AFTER early league results, Leek travelled to Sutton Coldfield expecting a very tough game.
Sutton started play using some of their experienced players to play long hard balls through the Leek midfield.
These were competently dealt with by Leek’s defence of Edwards, Povey and Convey, ably supported by Houston.
Sutton continued with this style of play throughout the game and so completely neutered was this by the Leek defence that Cummins in goal was rarely troubled.
Leek started with some speculative passing, committing the same unforced errors they had done the week before.
However, also like the previous week, Leek got into their stride in the second half.
For the final 20 minutes they completely dominated, winning several penalty corners.
One of these was converted by Houston to give Leek their only goal, although they could have had several more if they had taken their chances.
A club spokesman said: “The Knott brothers and Elliott Hammonds deserve special mention for their workrate in midfield, and good linking play with the forwards.
“All the Leek juniors can be very proud of their display in this match, which saw the best 20 minutes of hockey Leek have played so far this season.”
Leek Badgers 0 Finchfield 2
WITH the visitors fielding an older team, the Leek defence was under a lot of pressure.
Leek couldn’t quite breach the visiting defenders but the whole team constantly tried to push forward. A club spokesman said: “It was a good effort by all, with particularly good performances from Poole and Jones.”
Midlands Division Two
Newark 1XI 2 Leek 1XI 8
FOLLOWING a frustrating start to the season, Leek travelled to Newark knowing that getting a result was vital.
From the start, Leek dominated the side that sat four places above them in the league.
Tight marking and strong tackling enabled Leek to ensure that key Newark players were not able to influence the game.
A controversial umpiring decision resulted in Hurst receiving a yellow card, leaving Leek with only 10 players on the field.
However, it was a testament to how well Leek played, when during this period Newark were not able to enter the Leek D to create any goalscoring opportunities.
With goals from Mycock, Walton and Hurst, Leek finished the first half of the game with the upper hand and a 3-1 lead.
Leek began the second half once again outplaying Newark, with continuous attacking play starting from the strong line of defence.
Further goals from Mycock (including her second converted penalty flick in two games) and Walton saw Leek finish the game with an impressive 8-2 scoreline.
The player-of-the-match was Walton, who assisted in many of the eight goals Leek scored, and bagged two herself.
A club spokesman said: “Throughout the game, every Leek player gavee 100 per cent commitment and displayed excellent team work.
“The performance proved that Leek Ladies have great potential to compete with teams at currently at the top of the table.”
Girls U14 Development League
LEEK took a side of under-14 girls to the Development League matches at Alderley Edge and came away with two impressive wins.
They played Alderley Edge in the first match and dominated the game from the off, notching up a 6-0 victory..
Kim Sheldon scored the first goal, followed by further strikes from Josie Glass and Lottie Moss before half-time.
In the second half, Xenia Balderstone took out the goalkeeper and passed to Shannon Frodsham, who popped the ball neatly into the net.
This was followed by another goal from Lottie Moss and a reverse slap from Kim Sheldon.
The defence of Lucy Mart, Louisa Hall and Kay Sheldon held up any attempt at retribution from Alderley Edge.
Leek played Deeside Ramblers in their second game and won equally impressively, 7-1.
Leek were caught on the hop in the first minute by a lucky Deeside player.
This gave them the fire in their bellies to push forward, with an impressive goal from Kay Sheldon and Lottie Moss scoring from a short corner.
Xenia neatly defeated any threat of defence to bring the score to 3-1 at half-time.
In the second half, Kay Sheldon, Lucy Mart and Louisa Hall convincingly held off any attack that Deeside presented, with Becky Bailey saving any errant balls that came her way.
Shannon Frodsham made an epic run down the pitch from defence to score her second goal of the tournament.
Josie Glass and Xenia Balderstone both played like demons, scoring a goal apiece, with Kim Sheldon scoring a final goal.
All together, in the first round of the Girls U14 Development League, Leek ended up scoring 13 goals and conceding just once.