A depleted Slazenger 3rds team travelled away to play top of the league Lincoln 3rd’s and despite an incredibly well fought game, were unfortunate to come away with their first loss of the season. (note – it appears Lincoln’s 2nds team have folded splitting between the 1’s and 3’s, So Slazenger were going to have a tough fight on their hands.) However, if it had not been for a great performance from Lincolns back line and keeper, the result would have been far different.
The game was lively from start to finish, with the first 10 minutes epitomising this. There were strong attacks from both sides, as each attempted to find a weakness with the other. With a missing winger and midfielders, Slaz were notably weaker across the middle, although contested well throughout.
However it was Lincoln who broke the deadlock. A defensive mistake allowed the ball into the “D”, where the home team’s striker slipped his marker and finished, putting them ahead. Slaz continued to press hard, and had several chances go close. Winger, and captain Paul Corney set up Steve Johnson several times, though this week he was unable to find a gap. On the other wing, Alex Calderley had another great game, continuing to show further improvement. In the centre, Ian Hedges and Andrew Birkett made several runs into the D, only for the attack to be broken down by the oppositions keeper.
Slaz conceeded their second after their attack broke down, and a lapse in midfield allowed the home team through, going into half time 2-0 down.
After the break, Slaz continued to play some fast hockey, only to be denied by the more experienced opposition 2nd team players. It was a goal from Paul Johnson which gave Slaz their break with 20 minutes to go, with a powerful strike off of a short corner. However, even with this renewed optimism, that was the only time the ball found the net. A tweak to the formation gave the team more strength, and allowed left back Alan Perry to carry the ball within range of the goal, and gave defender Mark Kitchen room to influence in the midfield. In the dying minutes of the game though, Lincoln scored a third from another quick break, sealing the game.
Slaz 3’s continue to show improvement game on game, and against any other team in the league, their performance would have been more than enough to win. However a strong performance from the Lincoln keeper and Slaz’s temporary midfield weakness was enough to blunt their effort. Next week Slaz host Rotherham 4th’s.