The Christmas & New Year sporting break is a wonderful time of the year, however with the cold snap that preceded the festive period it was over a month since Slazenger Ones had swung a stick in competition. The Firsts kicked off 2018 with an away game in the historic city of York. Timeworn would be a good metaphor for Slazenger’s first phase of hockey. Some lethargic post mince pie play quickly allowed the home side to tap two goals past a frustrated Loftus. By half time the sustained Slazenger sluggishness had allowed York to increase this to 3. If the Firsts were to salvage some pride, let alone a point or two, then it was time to shake off the festive flab and start playing the hockey they are capable of.
It didn’t take long for Slazenger to open their score sheet in the second half. Some strong midfield play from James Swindon allowed Tuddenham to tap home his first of the match and at 1 – 3 the game was, finally, on. With every passing phase of play Slazenger were shedding the sloth and getting stronger. Two goals in quick succession from Perry brought the game level at three a piece and with less than ten minutes left on the clock Gascoigne and Chilton linked up with Tuddenham who fired home the winner to rapturous applause and shouts from himself.
Men’s 2nd’s (2) vs. (4) Doncaster 4th’s
The mens 2nd’s finally got back to league action after an ice extended winter break of 5 weeks. Missing a couple of key players, the team faced a strong doncaster 4th’s unit. Slaz started the quicker, and it was Mark Hammond who showed no signed of carrying excess turkey when he received a 30 meter aerial ball, beating the keeper to put the home side ahead. This seemed to wake up Doncaster, who responded quickly, with well worked movement and team coordination to catch the Slaz back line sleeping and net 2 in quick succession and putting them ahead at the break.
The second half was much the same, Slaz appeared to be recovering from their winter hibernation and began playing a better style of hockey together. Several efforts went close, but the winter rust was still apparent, and a pair of saves from the visiting keeper kept Slaz trailing. A quick break from midfield allowed Ian Hedges space to set up Hammond for his second. However, there were still signs that the home side were not fully awake, and even with some great defending from Ben Stevenson, and goalkeeper Daz Buttery, 2 defensive errors allowed Doncaster to capitalise, finishing the game 4-2.
Men’s 3rd’s (3) vs. (3) Doncaster 5th’s
So the first game back in 2018 and slazenger travelled to Doncaster after the mid season break and it was clear to see that everyone was given far to many chocolates for Xmas however in a surprising and pleasing turn on events the team’s new year’s resolution to play better hockey looked like it was being held to.
Slazenger started the game strong and played some beautiful possession hockey which started from the front with Scott Carruthers running the channels supported well by the wingers of Al Perry and Jack Lee, all whilst the holy trinity was tight and compact in midfield. Continued possession and pushing from Slazenger soon resulted in a goal from Carruthers. Slazenger continued to push and looked certain to pull further ahead when Carruthers found himself unmarked and with no keeper to beat after good work on the wing, decided that his new year’s resolution was to only score one goal in this game because despite having time to turn around, despite having the whole goal, Scott decided to put the ball out for what may as well be a push in from the sidelines.
Despite this Slazenger continued to push and deservedly went into half time 1-0 up. Captain Taylor did not make a resolution to invent a new half time team talk and this may have led to the team breaking their new year’s resolution of playing nice hockey as for the next 15 minutes. Slazenger didn’t turn up and soon found themselves 3-1 down and with anchorman Fisher on the sidelines and Sam declaring himself a striker it looked like the midfield was breaking.
However Slazenger from somewhere decided to not throw another game and started playing well. Matt Banks was the catalyst for this when after being taken out in front of the umpire no foul was given and after telling the umpire, Matt got his revenge in the only way he knew… He told Sam at the next short corner he was going to pass him the ball to the left instead though he took it right and scored. This seemed to give belief back to Slazengers and with the defence holding strong Slazenger pushed forward again and again. Eventually getting another short corner after good work from new boy Josh and for a second time Banks told Sam he would slip the ball left, but instead saw another gap right and hit the back of the goal to net his second and level the scores. Overall despite captain Simon getting shown up all game by a Doncaster development player who could have been no older than 6 he must be proud of the way Slazengers came back into the game and the continued goal contribution from man of the match Matt Banks. Happy new year to all.
Mens 4th’s (0) vs. (4) Chapeltown 4th’s
Slaz started there new year with a visit from high flyers Chapeltown. Slaz were on the back foot for most of the first half and Chapeltown managed to convert 2 to put themselves in the lead at the break.
Slaz came out fighting through a midfield of Dan Cass and Dene Minichella to get the team up the pitch. The home side did create chances through Ben Mace and Will Fealey but couldn’t score. Chapeltown eventually scored another two and went away 4-0 winners against Slaz.
Ladies 1st’s (3) vs. (2) Ben Rhydding 3rd’s
The Ladies 1’s hoped to continue their winning spree at the weekend with games on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a home fixture with Ben Rhydding travelling to Slaz for the 12-o-clock push back. The game started after a respectful minutes silence was observed by both teams in memory of a Ben Rhydding player.
Initially a fairly even game with both teams enjoying strong attacking play, Slaz eventually broke the deadlock when a stunning cross from Field was deflected into the net by Gilbert the Elder. Determined not to lose their spot, second in the table, Ben Rhydding hit back and despite some great defensive Work managed to claw one back. Spurred on by the equaliser, the visitors continued the pressure but with Gemma Wilson (MVP)in net a further goal looked unlikely.
Slaz hit back and with simple moves took the ball back to their attacking end and began to apply the pressure the lead was taken just before half time when Gilbert the Elder was given a second opportunity to beat the keeper. The game was far from over and end to end action saw many chances for both teams. Slaz thought they had sealed a win when Field concerted a short corner mid way through the second half taking the score line to 3:1 in their favour.
Ben Rhydding managed to claw one back 5 minutes before the final whistle but the 3 points went to Slaz with a 3:2 win. The win put Slaz 3rd in the league, 1 point behind Ben Rhydding with a game in hand. Thanks to Sue Hope and Keith Stevenson for umpiring
Ladies 1st’s (4) vs. (1) Brigg 1st’s
A rearranged game finally went ahead on the 3rd attempt on Sunday. Slaz knew that a win here would move them up to 2nd in the league, but a second game in as many days, an early start, long trek east to Brigg and after a long Christmas break, this was not going to be an easy task. With the first push back Brigg showed they were determined to break Slaz’s winning form, and within a matter of seconds had caught them napping and managed to put one in the net. Brigg may have thought that they were onto an easy win, but the early wake up call was enough to bring Slaz back to their attacking ways.
Play was taken into the attacking end and stayed there for the majority of the first half but the continuous attack was matched by the Home teams defence. The deadlock was finally broken when a short corned, dictated from the back, was clinically executed making the half time score 1:1.
In the second half, Slaz continued the pressure with any attack by Brigg being thwarted and used to their advantage to allow a strong build up from the back to take the ball back to their attacking D. A shot on goal, stopped on the line by the body of a Brigg defender, gave Slaz the opportunity to take the lead with a penalty flick – Andrea Wallace stepped up to the spot determined to get her name on the score sheet and did not disappoint.
Knowing the points were not guaranteed, Slaz continued in their quest to take 2nd spot. With direction from Pappa T, Mini Minch made a determined run to get her stick to MVP Paige’s cracking cross from the far side of the D. Slaz quickly regained possession from Briggs pushback after goal number 3 and Dunstan continued her pursuit to keep her top goal scorer trophy.
Final score 4:1, 2nd in the league (with top of the league Adel still to play) 8 wins in the last 8 games, we remain a very happy squad!! Thanks to Paul from Epworth Hockey club for coming along to Brigg and umpiring. Next weekend sees another full weekend with a journey to Harrogate on Saturday (1:30 push back) and a local derby on Sunday with Wakefield 3’s coming to Slaz for a rearranged fixture (10:30 push back)
Ladies 2nd’s (4) vs. (4) Adel 3rd’s
2018 started with an away fixture for Slaz 2s against Adel. After 5 weeks off due to the Christmas break and cancelled games prior to Christmas due to freezing conditions, it was bound to be a tough game.
The first half was a strong start for Adel as they didn’t allow Slaz to get into their game. The slow start from Slaz saw minor mistakes with many passes intercepted by Adel and poor ball pace from Slaz resulted in two early quick goals from Adel. Goal 1 was a very unlucky one with keeper Tracy Lorriman having stopped the ball in between her kickers, but somehow the ball ended up getting through and trickling over the line to see Slaz 1-0 down. This didn’t stop the Slaz spirit and the visitors rallied on, however shortly after Adel were awarded a contentious a short corner after advantage was played which saw Slaz go 2-0 down. Slaz heads began to drop, but not for long as some impressive quick 1-2 passes and movement up the line saw Slaz dominating the Adel defence, with a great finish from last season’s top goal scorer Claire Dunstan, returning for the first time this season after injury. This restored Slaz’s faith and it looked possible to claw the game back. Unfortunately this didn’t go in Slaz’s favour when an unlucky deflection from Slaz defender Sarah Ritchey put Adel further in the lead, even though Slaz had tracked back well and marked players. As the first half drew to a close, Slaz began to tire but continued to battle on. With a strong attack from Adel, Slaz responded with a strong defence. A short corner was saved beautifully by keeper Lorriman going to ground, but Adel’s second attempt with a lifted shot on goal hit defender Ritchey’s chest on the line before she managed to get a stick to it resulting in a flick for Adel. Adel finished the first half 4-1 up.
With Slaz spirits deflated the half time talk from coach Dave Brereton was crucial to lift the team’s confidence to go out and play a strong second half. This proved to work as Slaz started the second half with a new found energy, with stronger ball passes and movement off the ball and committing to 50/50 balls. Good space was created and a second goal from Slaz came from great team work and a skilful pass back from Claire Dunstan from the baseline to Karen Woodhead who finished the great team play with an awesome goal. This changed the game for Slaz as it seemed possible they could pull something back. With the score line closing in Slaz continued the positive team play and combined great defending and clearances with the counter attacks and possession to keep Adel from scoring again. The transitions from defending to attacking were more successful for Slaz in the second half with some great runs down the line from young Brereton as well as good possession skills and again quick 1-2 passes saw goal 3 coming from Lucy Brereton. With a 4-3 score line Slaz had made a good comeback and continued to battle. Adel were awarded further short corners but to Slaz’s relief, they were defended well and Adel were denied from scoring another goal. With 12 minutes to go Slaz managed to get an equaliser as Claire Dunstan got her second goal of the game! As time slowly counted down Slaz had to defend a last minute short corner. An early break from a the Slaz defence meant Slaz had to see out the final play of the game with just 3 defenders, but they held strong and were triumphant in denying Adel yet again, with the game ending in a well deserved draw. Team work was definitely the key to bring back what could have been a 4-1 defeat to a 4-4 draw. Great way to start the New Year!
Ladies 3rd’s (3) vs. (4) Epworth 1st’s
Slazenger’s Ladies 3s made a late afternoon trip to Epworth for a top of the table clash. With Epworth at the top of the table, Slazenger’s were hoping to knock them off and move themselves up from 3rd place. The game began with a fast pace, with Epworth showing why they were leading the league with accurate passes and free flowing play. The Slazenger’s defence were tested from the outset but Epworth were temporarily held at bay until the pressure became too much and they hit the backboard to take the lead.
The ball went back up to the centre spot for Slazenger’s centre forward Caro Schofield to restart the game. With her first touch she moved the ball forward, much to Epworth’s surprise. Caro continued to single handily dribble the ball around player after player, upon entering the ‘D’ the ball was moved over to the right where Caro quickly regained control and with a powerful strike brought the score level. An impressive goal certainly competing for top goal scorer of the season and rightly earned her player of the match.
Slazenger’s found encouragement from this and began to press forward with more intent, showing they were a match for Epworth. Epworth continued to play their part however and took the lead again to take them 2-1 up. Good pressure led Slazenger’s to win a penalty corner. Justine Birkett pushed the ball out with good pace to Linda Stacey at the top of the ‘D’ who made a shot on goal only for it to be blocked by the defence who could only clear as far as the top of the ‘D’ where Emily Entwisle was waiting to strike it back towards goal and onto the backboard to bring the score level once again. Half time score Slazenger’s 2-2 Epworth.
The second half continued much the same with neither side prepared to take a defeat. It was Epworth once again who took the lead but Slazenger’s fighting hard won another penalty corner, another strike by Stacey was deflected and a goal line scramble saw Birkett grip hold of the ball and push it over the line for another equaliser. For the final 10 minutes, Slazenger’s defended hard but with 2 minutes remaining an Epworth attacker displayed great skill and powered the ball into the goal to make the games theirs. A great battle for top of the table however; Slazenger’s suffered their first defeat of the season with a 3-4 loss.
Final Score Slazenger’s 3 – 4 Epworth
Ladies 3rd’s (4) vs. (1) Wakefield 5th’s
Slazenger’s got off to a good start dominating play. Numerous attempts on goal but thwarted by Wakefield defence. Slazenger’s finally connection with the back boards with goals from Caro Schofield, Natasha Wiper, Lucy Howarth in the first half. Half time score 3-0
Second half saw Wakefield come back hard and attacking from the start. Giving Slazenger’s defence some work. However Wakefield defence were thwarted.
Slazenger’s attacked strongly and Caro Schofield was awarded with another goal. This did not deter Wakefield and a quick slip past midfield saw them complete with a battle in the ‘D’ and the ball crossed the line.
Final score Slazenger’s 4 – 1 Wakefield
Ladies 4th’s (3) vs. (2) Huddersfield 1st’s
Knee slapping shenanigans at training paid off for the ladies 4th Team this weekend who played Huddersfield 1’s at home. Expecting a challenging game, not least due to seasonal overindulgence, the ladies 4’s warmed up in rain and took to the pitch at the last minute bravely removing bobble hats, scarfs and mittens.
Huddersfield made the first attack but were thwarted by keeper Lauren Hattersley‘s quick response to shots on goal and soon the game turned around. A long ball down the pitch was met my Mia Davis who saw an opportunity and scored through the legs of the Huddersfield keeper much to the delight of the Slazenger Team. Linda Stacey soon followed with the most fantastic goal with a run out of her defensive position to collect the ball at the top of the D, powering it in to the back of the net.
With Slazenger 2:0 up before half time, Huddersfield increased their efforts and finally managed to pull a goal back although their raised spirits were soon squashed when shortly before the half time whistle, a quick pass from Maisie Davis resulted in a goal from Lily Gilbert.
Huddersfield played harder in the second half with Slazengers needing to play a more defensive game. Huddersfield scored again which only increased their determination. With just one goal in it and the Slazengers ladies wishing they had held off the festive fair just a little bit, they kept up their efforts and managed to hold onto the game. A well deserved 3:2 win for the 4th team – joint player to Lily Gilbert and Lauren Hattersley.