Slazenger Men’s Third team were keen to put on a good performance during their final game of 2016 which was a re-scheduled top of the table clash against Chapeltown.
The match began evenly with both sides attempting to impose themselves on the opposition, however, after five minutes it was the home team who began to gain the upper hand with several quick counter attacks created by good passing, fast hockey. The only thing missing was someone to convert one of these chances into a goal. Darren Buttery, playing centre forward never gave up harassing the Chapeltown defenders and it was from this pressure that Slazenger were able to keep the ball in the opposition half for the majority of the first period.
The Horbury side didn’t panic and it was from one of the short corners, the opposition were now conceding, that a shot on goal resulted in a penalty flick, after the ball had been deemed to have been illegally stopped on the goal line by a Chapeltown foot. Isaac Fisher, stepping up from the fourth team, in the absence of Andrew Birkett, who in a distinguished 45 year hockey career had never missed a flick until this season where, unfortunately, he has missed three on the bounce, took responsibility for converting the flick.
Once the first goal had been scored it allowed the home team to relax and increase the pressure on their opponents even further as they searched for a second. Dave Gascoigne and Paul Johnson were always cautious of the fierce through balls the opposition were hitting towards them but in truth they were rarely troubled in defence and always available to start fresh attacks from the back. The second goal came from winger Alan Perry never giving up a lost cause, battling to win back possession on the Chapeltown by-line and passing the ball into the opposition goalmouth for Andy Fisher to convert through a crowd.
Chapeltown continued to protect their area and attempt to hit the home side on the counter but Slazenger’s had the upper hand now and it was captain Simon Taylor, rampaging down the right flank, who put a telling strike into the Chapletown goalmouth for left winger Sam Haigh to convert at the far post.
The fourth quickly followed after Darren Buttery closed down a Chapeltown defender, slow to react to the situation and spilled the ball to Andy Fisher who struck the ball low to the keeper’s left for his second.
Second half the opposition put the Slazenger midfield under more pressure, in an attempt to stem the flow of goals, and had some success. Josh Dunstan and Ben Stevenson worked tirelessly, constantly looking to create space but it took a while for Slazenger to deal with the situation, the Horbury team needed to be patient as goals were not as easy to come by as they had previously. It was a game where keeper Harry Buttery had to maintain his concentration as his only involvement, in 70 minutes play, was to carefully usher a loose ball over the by-line.
Mark Kitchen helped take the initiative by pushing up from defence to help create the overload in midfield and it was in the final quarter of the game that Slazenger started to recreate the slick, passing hockey of the first half. Man of the match Andy Fisher spurned the chance of a hat-trick when he swept a chance well wide, nearly decapitating a team mate in the process.
The final goal was the best of the lot, following some intricate passing by the Slazenger midfield, Chris Gascoigne found himself free at the top of the box and cooly converted into the far corner.
Final score 5-0.
Boys Under 12’s
Slazengers under-12s finished unbeaten in a solid first top-division outing of the season in the Yorkshire Youth Hockey League.
The Slaz boys drew their opening three games before rounding off with a victory to safely avoid relegation after winning promotion in each of their previous tournaments.
The opening match against Leeds saw Slazengers open the scoring through Charlie Bland after a strong run and cross by Alex Stacey. Leeds, who went on to finish top of the table, only equalised late on from a powerful short-corner shot.
The next two matches both finished 0-0, with Sheffield’s keeper making several good saves to preserve the stalemate before Doncaster and Slazengers cancelled each other out in a game of few chances.
Wakefield were the final opponents and Slazengers took an early lead through Terry Bathrelos’s first goal for the club, after Stacey’s initial shot had been saved.
Stacey then crossed for Tommy Randle to double the advantage before Wakefield pulled one back with the only goal Slazengers conceded from open play.
The Slaz defence was particularly impressive in this tournament, keeper Aidan Coughtrey becoming more confident with every game and being well protected by Frazer Cass and Lewis Killey. Sam Alderson, Joe Minchella and Will Gascoigne also played important roles within a fine team display.