For the first fixtures of the season, Slaz travelled to Ben Rhydding to take on two home teams and Leeds/Adel.
Slazenger (0) vs. (1) Ben Rhydding A
Slazengers started very brightly, quickly taking command of the mid field area and keeping possession well. Both wingers (Matthew Smith & Alex King) mounted attacks and both Hannah Field & Tom Pitchforth saw their shots go just wide or saved by the keeper. The game remained evenly balanced throughout with Rhydding’s attacks being calmly dealt with by James Higgins and Jess Buttery at full back and keeper Ralph Toon.
With just over a minute left to play, Slaz lost possession just outside the 23 line. The attack that followed resulted in a shot which Ralph kicked clear. Unfortunately, the ball shot vertically upwards off a Ben Rhydding stick and the Ben Rhydding’s strikers were first to work out where it had gone, bungling the ball over the line. Despite the score, Slazengers had plenty to be proud of as they had made Ben Rhydding A look beatable for the first time in many years.
Slazenger (2) vs. (0) Ben Rhydding B
Again Slazengers started strongly playing almost all of the first 15 minutes inside the Ben Rhydding half. The pressure was rewarded after 5 minutes when Isaac Fisher’s shot from a short corner was turned in by Matthew Stacey, playing his first tournament for Slazengers. The occasional Ben Rhydding break was dealt with by the full backs and half backs, Matthew Feather, Mayank Gupta & Ben Stevenson who were also supporting wide attacks well. Fisher had been dominant in midfield throughout both games and his efforts were rewarded after 15 minutes when he weaved through a crowded area to slot home a goal.
The score could have been much higher with the forwards failing to latch onto a couple of crosses from Aidan Hopkinson on the right and Alex King just missing a tip in from a Matthew Stacey shot. In the last few minutes, Ben Rhydding did begin to mount some attacks and were awarded a couple of short corners which were defended well.
Slazenger (2) vs. (0) Leeds/Adel
Riding high from our defeat of Ben Rhydding B, Slazenger’s allowed Leeds to have too much possession and consequently found ourselves defending our own goal several times in the first few minutes. Slazengers were still dangerous on the break with Matthew Smith shooting high.
After 8 minutes, Aidan converted a short corner in to the bottom right corner of the goal. It was good to see Nick Caulderley coming in for the tip in should it have been necessary. The middle portion of the game became a little scrappy with both teams conceding possession too easily.
However, Slazenger found their shape again resulting in several scoring opportunities. Smith saw his tip-in go just wide. With only a couple of minutes remaining, Pitchforth kept a cool head to finish a move down the right wing involving Feather, Hopkinson and Field to put the game beyond Leeds.
Matthew Feather received the “Player of the Day” award, for a very assured performance at half back and Most Improved Player goes to Mayank Gupta who showed great effort and some excellent skills for a player so new to the game. Overall, Slazengers should be proud of their performances, they were a credit to the club on and off the field.
Slazenger U14’s will next play on Sunday 4th December at Harrogate HC
Squad: Aidan Hopkinson, Alex King, Isaac Fisher (Capt), James Higgins, Matthew Feather, Ralph Toon (GK), Tom Pitchforth, Matthew Stacey, Jack Garside, Mayank Gupta, Nick Caulderley, Ben Stevenson, Hannah Field & Jessica Buttery.
Matches Played on Sunday 23rd October 2011 at Ben Rhydding Hockey Club