Leek 3rds 4 Belper 3rds 3
BELPER made Leek battle hard for their victory in a seven-goal thriller.
Leek went into this game on the back of a convincing win against Barford Tigers.
Belper provided a sterner test, however, and organised themselves well with a game plan in mind.
Leek took the lead through Ben Darlington, who has hit a rich vein of form since the turn of the year.
Steven Birch put Leek further ahead but Belper battled back to convert a short corner and then equalised with a weak shot before half-time.
Leek quickly regained the lead from the restart when Birch rounded the keeper with a deft flick round his pads.
Birch then turned provider when defending the Leek D. He smashed a long ball upfield for Darlington to easily beat the Belper keeper.
Belper added a third to their tally to create a nervy finale.
Leek 5ths 2 Leek 4ths 2
Another closely-fought inter-club league game saw both sides reasonably happy to share the spoils.
The 5ths opened the scoring first when Jules Brooks netted from close range after a superb run from Andy Lowe.
The 4ths enjoyed lots of possession and passed the ball with accuracy and speed but the 5ths dug in and defended well, especially man-of-the-match Steve Franklin.
The 4ths then scored either side of half-time and seemed to be heading for the victory when, in virtually identical fashion as their first goal, the 5ths broke through Ben Knight, who squared for Andy Lowe to score with ease.
Leek 6ths 2 Edgbaston 8ths 2
ON A COLD, blustery day in Leek, the 6th team took on Edgbaston in a top-of-the-table clash.
Leek started slowly in what turned out to be a tough but scruffy game.
The first half finished all square, with Edgbaston creating the better chances – only to be thwarted by the defence of Lomax, Bedford, Scriven and goalkeeper Knott.
Leek created many short-corners which were wasted but eventually the deadlock was broken when Spragg managed to fire the ball into the corner.
Leek's lead only lasted a few minutes, though, when a good break from Edgbaston and some poor tackling from Leek allowed an opposition player to walk through and slot the ball home.
A further break then led to Leek going behind.
Leek pushed on for another goal, with tireless work from Joe Knott, Hatcher and Bell.
Good work down the right from Davies and Scriven resulted in yet another short corner which was dispatched by Sokhal, who coolly rounded the keeper.
A draw was the fair result – but Leek need to be stronger in the tackle and more dominating in possession if they are to keep their lead at the top of the table.
Leek 7ths 2 Lichfield 7ths 1
AFTER a mix-up over the start time, the match got under way on a very cold, windswept pitch which narrowly missed a torrential hailstorm.
The Leek team looked a little different this week, due to unavailability.
Two players at opposite ends of the age spectrum – Lucas Barrow and Darren Hammonds – made their debuts in defence, both very ably slotting in to bolster Povey, Convey and Cummins in the defensive set-up.
Throughout the game, the Leek defence coped very well with the Lichfield attack, who rarely threatened to score.
The Leek midfield and forward line gelled and throughout the game, the young players ran hard and fast around their more experienced opponents, forcing several penalty corners.
Elliot Hammonds and Dan White both deserve special praise for their workrate, skill and bravery all game.
Leek's first goal came when Dan White played a through ball in the D to Tom Povey, who deflected the ball deftly past the Lichfield keeper.
Leek's second goal came in the second half, with Houston slotting home.
A tougher match awaits Leek this weekend against Wolverhampton 4ths.
LEEK men's fourth team have had a set of away shirts sponsored by Leek's Wellington Inn.
A club spokesman said: "The landlord of the Wellington, Kevin Lewis, has been a keen supporter of the hockey club over many years and we are delighted that he has chosen to generously support one of our teams."
Leek 1sts 0 Shrewsbury 3
LEEK started their second half of the season at a very cold and windy Shrewsbury, who sit the top of the table.
Leek started the brighter of the two teams and within the first few minutes had created some good chances.
Despite working extremely hard, Leek went into half-time 1-0 down.
The second half saw Leek being put under a lot of pressure – but they defended well and were unlucky to concede two goals that went in off their own defenders.
Stand-in captain and player-of-the-match Hazel Mycock was pleased with the team's work rate and commitment, and hopes they take this into this weekend's game against Stourport.
Leek 2nds 0 Lichfield 3
LEEK 2nds travelled to Lichfield fresh from their 8-0 victory over Tamworth.
Last-minute changes due to unavailability meant the team needed to re-jig roles, with Nikki Hambleton being welcomed at left back and Zoe Johnson in the centre of the midfield.
The loss of Hambleton to injury early on was a blow to Leek and Lichfield capitalised on their opponents' unease by keeping the pressure on.
Lichfield doggedly attacked and their perseverance paid off when a shot slipped in at the far post.
Leek rallied, with captain Paula Gwinett making tireless runs at the Lichfield midfield.
The Moorlanders continued to push for an equaliser, with Becci Neale, Sami Cope and Nicky Lockett all driving forward, but it remained 1-0 at half -time.
After a positive team talk, Leek came out of the blocks for the second half with renewed purposes.
Expert command at the back from Rhiannon Bedford enabled the defence of Sarah Brindley, Alex Binks and Rosie Dober-Obel to take control of the opposition's forward line.
Excellent moves from Bev Cartlidge and Kate Jones were unfortunate not to bring an equaliser. Zoe Johnson saw two efforts go agonisingly past the post.
Lichfield weathered the storm and attacked again in force and broke through the ranks to score their second goal. With the Leek team deflated, Lichfield were quick to punish and were awarded a penalty flick which narrowly beat Rhiannon Bedford in goal.
Leek tried to pick themselves up and released debutante Lucy Lee on the left flank. She took the opposition on fearlessly, only to see her effort cleared by a defender.
The Moorlanders thought they had grabbed a consolation goal when a shot went through the keeper's legs – but it was cleared off the line by a defender.
Leek face Dudley away this weekend, and will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Leek 4ths 3 Lichfield 6ths 2
ABBIE Hulme was on hand to put Leek ahead when the ball rebounded off the post for her to finish from close range.
At this point, Leek usually conspire to hand the game over to the opposition, but this week was different.
With Jo Shuttlewood commanding from the back and with Lucy Mart in close attendance, Lichfield were always going to find it hard to get through to Lyons in the Leek goal.
As the game went on, Leek only grew in confidence and the newer players Molly and Florence came into their own.
They were well supported by the more experienced players and Leek always looked likely to win.
Abigayle Hall once again showed her versatility by playing at right back and pushed forward several times to cause all sorts of problems for the visitors.
Leek extended their lead with a goal from Cunningham before Lichfield got back into the game after some rare poor defending by Leek.
The Moorlanders were determined not to lose this game, though, and with quick thinking, Cunningham took a quick free hit and found Lilley unmarked on the top of the circle to score.
Towards the end of the match, Leek showed their ever-growing maturity by keeping possession.
This was especially true in the last three minutes, when Emily Boulton and Holly Cunningham expertly kept the ball away from the visitors.
Leek now travel to third-placed Keele, hopeful of a good sized squad and looking to at least get something from the game to move them towards the mid-table place their form deserves.