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Watery pitch not kind to visitors

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 23, 2013

Leek firsts go on the attack in the NOW Pensions Men’s Hockey League.

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Bowdon 4 Leek 1

LEEK’S first team made the short journey to Greater Manchester to play their latest NOW Pensions Men’s Hockey league game against high flying Bowdon.

A strange few minutes unfolded which took the focus away from the Leek side.

Ben White picked up a green card for a seemingly innocuous challenge.

Frustratingly, several Leek players lost focus and Bowdon pounced and scored the opening goal.

As Leek attempted to settle down, Bowdon still sensed the gaps in focus and quickly fired a ball into the Leek circle. Skipper Brazier showed he was in no mood to accept this and came out cleared the ball.

The next action was bizarre as the Bowdon centre forward slid into the back of the Leek keeper and flattened him from behind with a two footed challenge. A five-minute yellow was awarded.

Leek struggled to gain a momentum and you could feel the sense of injustice running through the squad.

The bouncy water-based pitch was not to Leek’s liking and this seemed to ensure that Bowdon were quicker and faster.

A well-taken second goal from Bowdon allowed them to take a strong position in the game.

Leek struggled to gain a foothold and with injuries to two defenders – Rich Parker and Peter Sekula – it meant that there was a welcome return for Stu Waby.

Whilst Leek re-organised, Bowdon secured a penalty corner and they duly converted to give themselves a valuable 3-0 lead at half-time.

The Bowdon defence remained solid and pushed Leek back up the pitch. This led to Leek getting slightly frustrated and two players sent to the sin bin.

With Nixon and White missing, the rest of the squad were left fighting against the hard running Bowdon side.

The fourth goal came at this point, with Bowdon using the extra space to hurt Leek.

The final five minutes of play gave a glimpse of what Leek are capable of with 11 players on a pitch.

Fast play and quick passing ripped open the Bowdon defence and a brought a desperate last-ditch challenge as Leek were about shoot on goal.

A penalty was awarded, which Nixon converted. Seconds later, a further rash challenge did this time lead to a Bowdon card and further chances followed. However, it was all too little, too late.

Leek 2XI 6

Northampton Saints 2 LEEK set out to maintain their winning streak, to make it three wins from three.

The game started with Saints attacking strongly and to start with, it seemed like Leek would be in for a tough game.

A perfectly timed ball from Vincent in the middle sent Cunningham through. He unselfishly passed it to Nathan Smith, who slotted home.

A run from James Hudson down the wing set up the next goal as he gave the ball to Ben Smith, who slotted home with a reverse stock effort.

The goals wouldn’t stop coming now, as Leek went from 2-0 to 5-0 in a short period of time thanks to another goal from Nathan Smith, Ben Smith and a rocket of a flick from Alex Arndt.

At this point Northampton – who seemed inspired by their half-time team talk – managed to steal a goal back and this gave them more confidence to go on and get more.

In a game that had been dominated by Leek, Saints bounced back from the 5-1 deficit and quickly made it 5- 2. Leek held on for the next ten minutes and as Saints’ were playing so high up this left a huge hole for Ben Smith to run on and complete his hat-trick.

Leek 3XI 2 Edgbaston 3

LEEK went into this fixture on the back of an impressive victory over Belper. However, they failed to even stutter into life from the start.

After 20 minutes, Edgbaston took the lead but Leek equalised through Steven Birch from a short corner.

After the break, Edgbaston took the lead and quickly doubled their advantage to make it 3-1.

Leek pulled a goal back from another Steven Birch short corner but were unable to draw level.

Leek 5XI 6 Burton 4XI 0

FIFTHS bounced back well from last weeks narrow loss to the 4th team with a comprehensive victory.

Leek played some crisp passing hockey at times and when they did, they created a number of chances.

Ben Knight opened the scoring early in the first half aand Leek never really looked like losing from then on.

Knight went on to score another three goals, with Tyler Henry and Patrick Maguire adding to the total to seal three valuable points.

Ashby B 1 Leek Badgers 3

BADGERS claimed their first win of the season with this well- earned victory.

The game started with Ashby counter attacking well, leading to an early goal for Leek’s opponents.

Leek responded quickly, with Xavier Edge squaring the ball for Joel Hine to slot home Leek’s first goal.

Great play from midfielders Sian Jones, Joe Tattersall, Oliver Ward, Sam Brereton and Ollie Astle created chances for Leek.

But a second goal failed to appear until the second half, when Dexter Hammonds fired in from a slick short corner from Astle.

Some deft play from Patrick Burnett, Oliver Ward and Matt Bond led to Hammonds’ second goal of the game and Leek’s third.

Ashby continued to attack towards the end but the defence held out strongly.

Under 14s tournament

LEEK took a side built around their under-14 girls to Ashbourne for a seven-a-side Junior Node tournament and came away with a 100 per cent record, registering four wins.

Leek played Matlock in the first game and despite taking a while to settle into positions, they started to dominate the game and came away with a 1-0 win.

They then faced the Buxton A side and scored seven goals without Josh Johnson in goal being troubled.

Leek had a break before playing back-to-back games against Ashbourne and Buxton B.

With Ashbourne having also beaten Matlock, Leek knew they were in for a competitive game but Kim Sheldon put nerves on hold, finishing off a flowing move directly from the start.

Leek added a further two goals before Ashbourne pulled one back.

Leek turned round then to play Buxton A and although they made a slow start, Lottie Moss, Xenia Balderstone and Matt Bond caused continual problems for the Buxton defence and this enabled Leek to run out 3-0 winners.

Leek 6XI 7 Shrewsbury 4XI 2

AFTER having a poor warm-up, Leek were slow off the mark and were totally outplayed for the first ten minutes.

They soon found themselves to be a goal down and up against it.

Skipper Spragg rearranged the side which created a better balance and from a good break down the right from Scriven, Alcock levelled the score.

The Leek players took heart from this and started to dominate play, moving the ball around better and creating further chances.

Another move from Scriven allowed Hatcher to shoot and the ball fell to Gayes, who deftly passed the ball into the corner.

This was soon followed by a short corner strike from Alcock.

Shrewsbury managed to penetrate the back line of Stewart, Bedford senior and Lomax to reduce the Leek lead.

Bedford junior scored to keep Leek’s two goal advantage at halftime.

The second half saw a change in the balance of the game, with the younger Leek side taking control and dominating the play.

Smith and Bell worked tirelessly, creating good chances for the forwards, and it was from one of these that Bedford junior rounded the keeper to slot home his second.

Leek didn’t have it all their own way though – man-of-the-match Adam Knott in goal produced a string of great saves to stop Shrewsbury pulling a goal back.

The goal of the game came from some slick passing from Alcock to Hatcher to Smith, who fed the ball through to Bell – who drew the keeper out and selflessly set up Spragg for an easy chance,.

The final goal came from a great goalbound shot from Bell, only to be stolen on the line by Gayes – who, for the first time in his career, scored two goals in a game.

Leek 7XIs 0 Wolverhampton 4XI 3

LEEK travelled to Wolverhampton expecting a tough match against the early league leaders.

Because of injuries, Leek were forced to field just four Leek adults and seven juniors.

In addition, Leek’s nornmal style of play was not helped by a very sandy and bouncy Astroturf pitch.

Despite these setbacks, Leek played well and a reasonably balanced first half saw them level 0-0 at the interval.

Jerry Watson in central defence and Tony Cummins in goal were kept busy and several times were called on to keep Leek in the game.

Throughout the game Leek struggled with the pitch to weight their passes correctly, leading to many unforced errors which turned the ball back over to Wolverhampton.

Leek’s midfield worked hard throughout, with Tom Ineet, Elliott Hammonds, Joe Knott and Dan White worthy of special mention.

A midfield mix-up would eventually lead to a five-on-three attack, and Wolverhampton took their chance.

Goalkeeper Tony Cummins had no chance of saving a well-struck shot.

Leek won several penalty corners, one of which produced an excellent save by the Wolverhampton defender on the line from a well-struck Tom Ineet shot.

In the last 10 minutes, the pitch and the work rate took their toll on Leek and for the first time this season, they look tired.

This allowed Wolverhampton to convert two more chances late on.

Ladies Hockey Leek 1XI 3 Beeston 2

THIS was a dramatic game, and heart-stopping to watch.

The match was largely dominated by Leek, with many chances created but few taken.

However, three goals proved enough to give the team their first three points of the season.

Leek 2XI 0 North Staffs 2XI 3

LEEK started strongly, with great runs from Ellie Bokros and Bev Cartlidge in the first 10 minutes.

However, an unstoppable reverse hit from the top of the D caused Leek to go a goal down.

Leek battled for the rest of the first half, with great performances from Rosie Dobel-Ober, Kate Jones and Nikki Hambleton.

Sarah Brindley saved a cracking shot on the line with her stomach, resulting in a penalty flick, which Rhiannon Bedford saved beautifully.

After an inspiring team talk from Paula Gwinnett, Leek were raring to go for the second half.

Despite great defensive play from Hattie Barnes and Alex Binks, North Staffs scored their second goal via a back post deflection.

Leek kept battling for the rest of the game, but in the last minute North Staffs loaded their attack and scored a deflection at the back post.

Leek 3XI 0 Cannock 7

LEEK knew that they were in for a tough away game, especially with a team which this week featured a number of younger fourth team players.

The girls started well, still getting used to names and positions.

Cannock used this as an opportunity to take the lead and Leek struggled to challenge their attack.

Shannon Fordsham did a fantastic job in goal, with some great attempts and brilliant saves.

Similarly, the opposition’s playerof- the-match Carla Critchlow did a great job as sweeper, supporting both the forwards and defence throughout the game.

The second half saw a different Leek with the girls working together well.

The defenders were stronger and passes were generally more successful.

Fordsham continued her fantastic efforts, but the stronger and more experienced Cannock side still had the advantage.

A club spokesman said: “Despite the disappointing loss, the game allowed the younger players to experience third team level.”

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