Slazenger 3rd’s travelled to Normanby Park on Saturday, knowing only a win would see them secure promotion. After a jittery start, a 6-1 victory put it beyond doubt.
Slaz took the push back, starting brightly, though with some early nerves. However this was easily overcome after good link-up play from John Sykes and Andrew Birkett forced a mix up in the circle, allowing Birkett to slot an opening goal home. However, as in recent weeks, Slaz proceeded to make life difficult for themselves, by struggling to do even the simple things well. Normanby Park punished them for the mistakes, taking the initiative, and grabbing a scrappy equaliser. The usual strong Slaz defence struggled to clear their lines and keeper Ralph Toon couldnt stop the simple tap in which resulted, during an otherwise faultless performance.
Slaz continued to work, and the more effective passing game began to make gains. The horbury side attacked several times, cutting deep into the home teams half. Attacks from Ste Roberts, Ian Hedges and Matthew Stacey maintained pressure and it was Stacey who grabbed a vital equaliser before half time.
The game was closely contested for in the minutes before the half ended and Slaz were happy to hear the half time whistle.
In the second half, Slaz regrouped and reapplied the pressure. With only a goal in it, there was always a threat Normanby Park would equalise. John Sykes had been threatening throughout the first half, with several shots on goal. This half however, he managed to grab the goal; a powerful strike was caught by an unfortunate defender’s stick, with the keeper unable to save.
With some breathing room, Slaz really pilled on the pressure. Slaz continued to defend as a unit, with strong performances from their back line: Paul Johnson, Mark Kitchen, John Toon, and Alan Perry. This allowed the midfield to hit the opposition on the break, causing real problems in the Normanby Park goalmouth and winning several penalty corners in quick succession. It was from one of these that Paul Johnson scored Slazenger’s fourth; the ball whipped out from Birkett, and slammed in from the top of the circle.
A fifth goal completed Sykes’ brace, with a great individual effort. Receiving the ball on the edge of the goalmouth, made space for himself and struck the ball fiercely into the corner. This was quickly followed by Matthew Stacey’s second of the game, with a tap in from the right post.
Final score Slazenger 6 – Normanby Park 1 which ensures Slazenger 3’s will be promoted as runners-up having won their last 5 games of the season.