Hockey: Leeds firsts net surprise but well-deserved win

Leeds Hockey Club men's first team in action against University of Durham. Picture: Ganni Braisby.
Leeds Hockey Club men's first team in action against University of Durham. Picture: Ganni Braisby.
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A sizeable crowd turned out on Saturday to watch Leeds Hockey Club men’s and ladies’ first teams take on the University of Durham.

From the whistle, Durham pressed forward, giving Leeds’ men’s team little time to settle on the ball and looking to control the midfield.

Leeds Hockey Club ladies' first team in action against University of Durham. Picture: Ganni Braisby.

Leeds Hockey Club ladies' first team in action against University of Durham. Picture: Ganni Braisby.

With the pressure looking to overwhelm Leeds, keeper Josh Parkinson was forced to make several good saves to keep the game scoreless.

When Leeds did manage to break from their own half, they relied on the aerial ball hoping to catch the University defence flat-footed, and it wasn’t long before Harry Lankfer forced a smart save from keeper Hogg.

Seeing that this could be the secret to success, Leeds began to find ways of freeing Lankfer to run at the Durham goal.

This strategy paid off, as Lankfer added to this season’s goal tally – a 1-0 lead was taken into the break.

The game restarted at a frantic pace and it wasn’t long before the slender lead held by Leeds was wiped out.

Forcing a short corner against the run of play, Durham shot the ball low, deceiving the defence and bringing the game back level.

This saw a period of end-to-end play, with both sides trading short corners, leaving the supporters gasping at goalline saves and near misses.

In the 61st minute, Durham went ahead for the first time – a short corner saved by Parkinson bounced to a Durham forward who hit a half-volley into the net.

An immediate response was called for, and provided by Justin Brown less than a minute later as, straight from the restart, Leeds drove forward and a quickly-taken free-hit saw Brown in space directly in front of goal.

With time running out, everyone was expecting honours to be even. But, in the 69th minute, Nathan Hill took advantage of a breakdown inside the Durham half, rounded the keeper and hit a reverse strike to give Leeds a surprise, but well-earned 3-2 victory. Not to be outdone, the Ladies began their game positively and at a high tempo.

Home fans were thinking the worst, however, as it took only seven minutes for Durham to go ahead with a well-taken short corner.

The game then settled into a very even contest, with chances at both ends, but none being converted until Lauren Ellwood popped up and finished off a lovely period of teamwork from Leeds to continue her great form in the National League.

A midfield battle commenced with both forward lines forcing some great saves from Pheobe Menear and Charlotte Childs in their respective goals.

Despite the display of wonderful hockey, neither side could gain the upper hand and the game finished 1-1.

This draw saw Leeds Ladies ensure a third loss on the bounce was avoided and gave them a huge boost as they head to Loughborough this coming week.

Leeds Hockey Club results in full: Men’s 1sts 3 Durham University 2; Men’s 2nds 3 Sheffield University Bankers 0; Men’s 3rds 5 Sheffield University Bankers 2; Mens 4ths 4 Thirsk 0; Mens 5ths 3 Sheffield Hallam 0; Mens 6ths 1 Huddersfield Dragons 1; Men’s 7ths 2 City of York 2; Men’s 8ths 0 Doncaster 3; Ladies 1sts 1 University of Durham 1; Ladies 2nds 0 Doncaster 1; Ladies 3rds 3 City of York 1; Ladies 4ths 2 Cleckheaton 0; Ladies 5ths 2 Tadcaster 1; Ladies 6ths 1 Ben Rhydding 1.