MEN’S HOCKEY Leek 1XI 0 Doncaster 1XI 4
DONCASTER are a long-established national league side with a long history of competing at this level. However, this season has seen them battling extremely hard to retain this proud status.
Leek travelled with a smaller squad than usual due to last minute cry-offs and unavailable players.
With the second team having a crucial fixture themselves, Leek decided to run the risk of taking 11 fit players and one injured substitute.
The game flowed, with Doncaster setting their stall out from the beginning.
The hosts’ no-nonsense style came as no surprise to the visitors but possibly the newly-appointed umpires to league panel found this approach something different to what they are used to.
The sides slugged out a drab first half in midfield, with little creative play flowing from either side. But the tension was mounting, with neither side relenting.
Doncaster’s main threat was sending a forward high up the pitch and long aerial balls finding them behind Leek’s defence.
From one of these attacks, Doncaster produced a penalty corner, and home captain Tim Shelley converted with a low drag in the 28th minute.
This resulted in an uncompromising half-time team talk from Leek skipper Mark Brazier.
The second half started better for Leek, who stretched the play better.
However, a crucial decision went against them when an aggressive tackle on Stefan Sekula was missed by the umpires and from this turnover, Doncaster went on to score the critical second goal.
The goal was well taken, with a quick passing move which left the startled defence with no chance to recover.
Leek responded by attacking harder and challenged the Doncaster defence, who were content to defend their two-goal lead.
Ben White was now threatening in the circle and looked to test the keeper in a more trademark Leek move.
However, the keeper produced a strong save, which took the ball first and then the player.
White reacted to being tackled by the keeper and found himself in the sin bin for his trouble.
Leek produced several penalty corners, which were dealt with by the home defence.
Doncaster remained resolute and worked very hard to maintain their lead and when chances arose, they attacked with passion and aggression.
This was epitomised in the third goal, when a flowing move was finished from close range by Dan Legg.
The game was ebbing away from Leek now and with Doncaster’s confidence rising, they were able to create another penalty corner which Shelley despatched in the last minute to secure a valuable 4-0 victory.
The result sets Doncaster up with a classic Yorkshire fixture against Wakefield to decide who goes into the relegation playoffs.
Leek face Preston at home in their final league game of the season, knowing that a better performance is required.
Leek 6XI 2 Telford 4XI 3
LEEK went into this game with a rather scraped-together side – including two players’ dads.
Telford took the lead in the first two minutes with a good break down the left and quickly added a second goal.
This seemed to push the Leek team to play harder and to their credit, they then took control of the game and began to dominate.
Man-of-the match Lucien Ober-Dobel created havoc down the right wing with his pace. It was from one of these runs that he managed to pull the ball across for Sam Wheeldon to slot home.
Skipper Spragg played in the unusual role of central midfield and linked up with the forward Joe Priestman on many occasions.
Leek had a good “front rower” in the shape of Phil White, who worked tirelessly and won a short corner for the team.
A good injection from Hughes saw the ball switched right and for Lucien Ober- Dobel fire the ball home from a narrow angle.
The Leek defence of Scriven, Stewart and Lockett held strong and were looking to hold on for a draw when an unfortunate deflection from Telford’s Scriven lobbed the ball over the stranded Knight in goal.
Lichfield B 0 Leek Badgers 1
LEEK recorded their 15th win of the season as they ground out a narrow victory at Lichfield.
The visitors had the balance of play in the first half and created a number of scoring opportunities, with Joe Cummins going close on a couple of occasions.
The second half saw Leek put the Lichfield goal under increasing pressure and after a series of short corners, the Moorlanders eventually managed to put the ball beyond the Lichfield keeper – Callum Bell was the scorer.
Leek had further chances to extend their lead but were unable to turn the pressure into goals.
As the game drew towards a close, Lichfield were able to put some pressure on the Leek goal but Adam Knott was alert to the danger and cleared, securing the win.
Next week, Badgers play their final game of the season, against Lichfield A, at Leek High School. Start time is 12.30pm.
LADIES HOCKEY Leek 1XI 7 Solihull 2
WITH a fourth-place finish in the league a possibility, this was an important game for Leek The home team started off at a good pace, with everyone working hard to gain possession and put pressure on the opposition.
And it wasn’t long before Leek had their breakthrough, with Charlotte Hurst applying the finishing touch.
Leek played some of their best hockey of the season and before the break, captain Hazel Mycock and Vicki Bradbury added two goals each.
The second half slightly lacked the intensity of the first and Leek conceeded two goals but Mycock capped her last game by adding two more goals, to take her personal tally for the game to four