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Thirds step it up and bounce back

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: November 06, 2013

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HOCKEY

Leek 3XI 6 Rugby & East Warks 2

LEEK went into the game on the back of two consecutive away defeats and knew that their form needed to improve.

In the opening exchanges, Leek dominated play against their opponents and broke the deadlock through a passing move in the D, finished by Steven Birch.

Soon afterwardsm Matthew Boardman made it 2-0 from a short corner.

However, Rugby battled back and made it 2-1 going in at half time.

After the breakm Leek tried to build on their lead and did so through Ant Mellor and Steven Birch, making it 4-1.

Rugby pulled a goal back from a short corner routine before Steven Birch completed his hat trick and then added a further goal.

Leek 5XI 2 Rugby & East Warks 5XI 2

THE FIFTHS’ latest Warwick Printing League fixture saw them at home to Rugby.

A very competitive and hard-fought game saw both sides resonably happy with a share of the spoils.

Rugby took the lead in the first half, only for Jules Brooks to draw Leek level with a trademark penalty corner strike.

The second half saw an improved performance from Leek, as they at last found their passing skills.

However, it was Rugby who reclaimed the lead from a corner.

With time running out and with Steve Franklin driving Leek on from midfield, they won another penalty corner.

Again, Jules Brooks powered home a fine strike into the corner to earn his side a hardfought point.

Leek 6XI 0 Lichfield 5XI 4

AFTER an unblemished start to the season, the Leek Sixths came down to earth with a bang.

The Lichfield side was stronger and faster on the ball than their opponents.

This may have been down to their age range – 16 to 35, compared with Leek’s 14 to 41.

Lichfield started the better and took an early lead but after some re-shuffling, Leek managed to get a hold of the ball and started to create chances.

Enjoying more possession, Leek finished the first half the stronger side, with Alcock coming close to equalising.

The start of the second half saw Leek concede early on and from then on, they found themselves up against it.

Keeper Knott made a number of great saves and a goaline clearance kept Leek in the game.

Towards the end of the game, Leek seemed to tire and a mistake in possession allowed Lichfield to add a third goal and complete the scoring with a fourth.

With a little bit of work on the basics, Leek will develop and find the ability to control games against the stronger opposition.

Leek 7XI 2 Telford 5XI 1

LEEK were glad to be playing on their home pitch, hoping to get their passing play working well.

Unfortunately, the first half saw the hosts abandon their normal style of play.

Several Leek moves broke down with some unforced errors and sloppy passing.

After ten minutes, Telford were reduced to ten men through an injury.

Soon afterwards, Leek won a penalty stroke after a shot was stopped illegally on the line.

Tom Inett cooly converted to put the Moorlanders one in front.

However, Telford soon levelled after a break, and the visitors started to overrun the Leek defence.

Leek regrouped to play their normal passing game and as a resultm enjoyed plenty of possession.

Will Landon was on hand to help home a deflected shot and squeeze the ball in off the post.

All in all, it was a good result for Leek with an excellent work rate, especially for the last 35 minutes.

North Staffs 0 Leek Badgers 4

ALTHOUGH this game only lasted 30 minutes due to issues with the floodlights, Leek netted four goals through Edge, Brereton and Priestman.

Maximum pressure from the entire Leek team ensured that the ball hardly entered their half.

North Staffs were relieved fwhen the umpire signalled the game to be bought to an early finish.

NOW: Pensions Over-40s Masters Cup Hampton in Arden 3 Leek 3 (Leek won 3-0 on penalty strokes)

LEEK travelled to Hampton in Arden to compete in their first ever game of this competition.

With what was considered a strong group of players, Leek were quietly confident of proceeding to the next round.

The first 10 minutes of play reinforced this self-belief, with the Leek midfield of Sean Finney, Boardman and Mellor dictating play.

The ball was spread out wide to Cordon and Machin on the left and right respectively.

But despite their superior possession, Leek could not create what could be considered a clear-cut chance on goal.

Slowly but surely, Hampton began to ease themselves into the game, and punished Leek with the opening goal from a penalty corner, despite an initial brave save by Bromage.

Leek then lost Grubb, despatched to the sin bin for a technical fault, and then Sean Finney due to injury.

The latter was replaced by his younger brother Colin, entering the field for the first time in four years.

The visitors went close to equalising when Brooks was put clear, one-on-one with the keeper – who narrowed the angle to force the shot high into the side netting.

Leek continued to push for an equaliser but then got caught on the break.

The defence afforded the advancing attacker too much time and space, and he unleashed a powerful shot that Bromage had no hope of stopping.

As is typical of all Leek teams, they never gave up, and pulled a goal back just before half-time via a trademark penalty corner drag flick from Boardman.

In the second half, Leek began to dominate again, restricting Hampton to sporadic attacks, which were ably dealt with by Houston, Burnett and Grubb.

The pressure on the Hampton defence forced several penalty corners, and the end result was predictable – a Boardman drag-flick goal.

Despite their exertions, Leek found another gear and smelled victory, with Spragg particularly industrious.

When Leek were awarded a penalty stroke 10 minutes from time, they thought the job was done. However, Boardman put his stroke inches over the bar.

Minutes later, Boardman made amends for the penalty miss by despatching a far more difficult chance beyond the keeper’s reach.

At this point, Hampton seemed spent and Leek tried to keep the ball to see the game out.

Colin Finney was sent for a short stay in the sin bin, but this did not hamper the away side too much.

Leek tried one pass too many, and gave Hampton one last chance, which they took with a fine lifted finish.

Hampton’s equaliser was literally the last touch of the game – which would now have to be decided by a penalty stroke shoot-out.

This turned out to be a stroll for Leek with Boardman, Cordon and Mellor leaving the Hampton keeper rooted to the spot.

Hampton missed the target twice, and Bromage pulled off a fine save low to his right.

A club spokesman said: “This was fine performance by Leek on their competition debut, in what was a very competitive game played in an excellent spirit.”

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