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World cup call-up for veteran

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

  • GETAWAY: Leek's Richard Corden (blue shirt) evades Brooklands MU's James Riddell.

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Leek Hockey Club's Matt Boardman has been selected to represent England over-40s at the Masters World Cup.

Boardman has been a club member since 1996 and was instrumental in Leek's progress toward National League status.

He is also a past captain of the national league squad.

Having reached the age of 40 in 2013, Boardman was selected for the Midland region over-40s squad to compete in the England Hockey Divisional Championships.

The Midlands reached the final, where they lost on penalties – Boardman playing in all the matches.

As a result of his performance in this championship, Boardman was invited to attend an England over-40s trial, from which he was selected to compete at the Home and the European championships.

Boardman played in every match at the home internationals in Wakefield and scored two goals on his debut match against Ireland. England won the championship by also defeating Wales and Scotland

The European championships were held in Lisnagarvey, Ireland, where Boardman played in all five matches, scoring three goals. England beat Germany on the final day to be crowned champions of Europe.

Boardman's performances in these championships, and as the leading scorer for England over-40s, has led to his selection for the World Cup in Rotterdam in June, and also for the Home Internationals in Ireland in August.

A Leek club spokesperson said: "We are obviously very proud of Matt's selection for the England over-40s and we wish him well in the tournament.

"We will be following England's results very closely."

England Hockey Now:Pensions Men's Hockey League – North Conference

Leek 0 Brooklands MU 3

LEAGUE leaders Brooklands were the second visitors to Leek High School from Manchester in consecutive weeks.

Leek's enforced changes saw Paul Nixon and Ed Stanhope returning, while losing Jon Harper and Ben White. Harper's absence saw Pete Sekula move to centre-back.

As with Bowdon the previous week, Leek needed to keep a compact formation against top opposition to prevent Brooklands from playing their free-flowing game.

In fact, it was Leek who started more openly and two great moves in the opening five minutes resulted in clear chances for Bobby Dawson and James Gough go begging.

Leek struggled initially but the new back line eventually settled.

However, midway through the half Leek were disrupted significantly with an injury to right-back Richard Parker, and two green card suspensions for Richard Cordon and Dan O'Neill, all within the space of two minutes.

That Leek survived this period with a clean sheet was a credit to their resilience and a great deal of ability.

It was further tested when, having returned to 11 players, Nixon and Matt Boardman both had to leave the field with blood injuries.

Leek were also indebted to skipper Mark Brazier for making two fine saves in the last two minutes of the first half.

Toby Mueller and Gough both wasted chances to put Leek ahead in the second half .

After 44 minutes, Brooklands lost James Riddell to a green card suspension, and Leek pressure resulted in the first penalty corner of the match, although Paul Dawson's shot went narrowly wide.

Immediately afterwards, another Leek attack saw Dawson's cross flash across the face of goal with no one near enough to put the finishing touch.

The final 20 minutes proved to be the crucial period of the match. Brooklands forced two penalty corners, which were well defended by Leek.

A quick Leek move through the centre saw O'Neill break clear, but good Brooklands defending saw him tackled before releasing a shot.

Brooklands opened the scoring through Stevan Ray-Hills after 54 minutes for his visibly relieved team.

Leek reacted well and a great cross-field aerial flick from Parker to Cordon nearly resulted in a quick reply.

However, once again Brooklands immediately attacked and Ray-Hills added his side's second goal in the 58th minute to deflate the hosts

To their credit, Leek continued to press, and having forced a penalty corner, Paul Dawson's shot was well saved by Tom Richmond in the Brooklands goal.

As the game became more open, the visitors secured the points with a third goal in the 64th minute from Matt Smith to give a flattering final score line to Brooklands.

Leek can take great encouragement into the final two matches of the season against mid-table opposition, having played the top 3 teams in the last four weeks.

However, they need to convert chances – too many are being missed, and increase fitness levels for this standard of competition.

Leek 4ths 6 Burton 4ths 2

LEEK secured second spot and promotion with this victory over third-placed Burton in the latest round of Warwick Printing League fixtures.

As expected, the game was hard fought, with both teams playing some really good hockey.

Leek shook off the torpor that has become familiar in their first half displays recently to take a deserved two-goal lead inside 15 minutes.

Burton were unlucky with the first, as a ball travelling out of play hit the umpire and deflected into the path of Andy Critchlow, who squared for Rob Lawley to make it 1-0.

The second goal was the result of a good passing move which ended with Joe Priestman turning in the D and firing an unstoppable shot past the Burton keeper.

Leek were good value for this lead but then gifted Burton a couple of goals that their overall play deserved.

A mistake from Nick Grubb allowed the Burton forward time and space to slot the ball under the onrushing Adam Turner and then a series of missed tackles allowed a Burton player to continue into the D and do the same.

With their tails up and a pretty proficient game plan, Burton pressed hard for a third and only the awareness of Sam Wheeldon at left back kept the teams level with a fine goal line clearance. Leek were threatening as well, though, particularly through Lewis Flint down the left flank.

What the spectators witnessed in the second half was two teams going hard to win – but Leek producing probably their finest half of the season.

Based on a solid defence, with Wheeldon and Pete James tackling everything thrown at them and Grubb sweeping behind, Leek launched a series of attacks where their passing, movement and enthusiasm were matched by great decision making and calmness – a sign that the younger players have matured as the season developed.

With Pete Cordon slotting back very effectively into a more holding role, Kieran Smith and Callum Alcock drove forward regularly and their passing and vision were a particular highlight of the game.

Callum Alcock made it 3-2 with a full-length dive to finish Rob Lawley's fine pass.

Lawley then beat three players and stayed on his feet to finish expertly past the onrushing Burton Keeper.

At 4-2, Burton – to their credit – kept pushing and posed quite a few questions of the Leek defence.

However, it was Leek who pressed on and finished the game off.

A superb driving run from Kieran Smith led to the fifth goal, with Smith feeding the ball to Priestman who, realising his angles were tight, unselfishly slotted the ball to Rob Lawley for his hat-trick.

There was still time, from another sweet move, for Andy Critchlow to finish a fine personal game with a thumping drive into the corner of the Burton net.

With three games to go, Leek must now press on and try to continue the form they showed in this game in the final few.

A club spokesman said: "Great credit must go to Rob Lawley for choosing to field such a young team all season and try to develop players for the higher reaches of the club.

"With Loughborough University running away with first place, second is a notable achievement and will be celebrated properly in three games' time."

Leek 5ths 3 Loughborough Town 4ths 0

LEEK attacked at will, and it wasn't long before Steve Franklin powered them ahead from a penalty corner.

Moments later, the same player beat six opposition players before unleashing a fierce shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Loughborough came back well in the second half and forced Rich Cordon into a number of excellent saves.

The Leek defence of Sam Bellfield, Henri Lockett, Andy Machin and Jim Raynor held firm to secure a clean sheet.

With two minutes to go, Andy Lowe confirmed Leek's victory with a crisp finish.

Edgbaston 7ths 2 Leek 6ths 2

AFTER a nightmare of a journey down to Edgbaston, the Leek team arrived with just five minutes to go to the start.

Edgbaston pressed hard and took the lead within five minutes, with a nicely-finished goal lifted over keeper Knott.

This seemed to spur Leek into action and their play started to take some shape.

The defence of Hatcher, Bedford and Lomax started to distribute the ball around well and the midfield of Bell, Hammond, Houston, Knott and Spragg started to put the effort in and controlled the play.

Some good play from Sokhal and Morgan up front got Leek a string of short corners, and Spragg eventually dispatched one into the corner of the goal.

Leek were well on top and creating chances at will.

From another short corner, Bell had his shot illegally stopped on the line and Spragg stepped up to dispatch the penalty stroke into the to left corner.

The second half continued in much the same vein but the Leek team failed to take further advantage of their good play, with chances for Morgan, Sokhal and Hammond being either saved well or missed.

Towards the end of the game, Edgbaston broke through the midfield and won a short corner which they scored past the luckless Knott.

Special mention must go to man of the match Tom Hatcher who played out of position at right back and had a really good game.

Promotion and the title are still in Leek's hands but they must start playing the fast-paced flowing hockey that they were at the beginning of the season.

Ladies

Leek 1sts 2 Newark 0

LEEK hosted Newark in what was a must-win game in their fight against relegation.

Since their 8-2 thrashing by Leek in the first half of the season, Newark had only picked up three points from 10 games.

After winning two short corners in the early stages of the game, Newark hardly posed a threat.

Their defensive tactics gave Leek more time on the ball than usual, to which Leek used to their advantage.

Vicki Bradbury put Leek ahead midway through the first half .

Leek took control after the break and Lauren Ferns rounded off a fine run by finding Vicki Bradbury to feed Jenny Evans for her side's second goal.

Leek 3rds 2 Bloxwich 3rds 0

LEEK attacked relentlessly against third in the table Bloxwich.

The Leek midfield of Molly Fieldhouse, Jess Walsh Ellie Smith, Tilly Clark and opposition's choice of player of the match Kim Sheldon worked determinedly to get the ball into the attacking D.

Leek captain Lydia Whittaker scored Leek's first goal with a reverse shot from the top of the D.

With Bloxwich pressing back, Paula Quinnett made some stunning saves on her goalkeeping debut.

Following a quick substitution Josie Glass immediately scored Leek's second goal.

After half-time, Bloxwich came out fighting but were unable to penetrate the Leek defence of Nikki Hambleton, Karen Smith, Charlotte Hudson, Carla Critchlow and Helen Earley.

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