Saturday saw high winds, cloudy skies and Belper Hockey Club visiting Sports Park Weetwood in a double header of National League matches.
First up was the Leeds Hockey Club Ladies, fresh from their indoor successes over the mid-season break, with high hopes of getting 2019 off to a winning start. The game started with the visitors looking lively and hoping to strike early before the home side could settle into their rhythm, and this early pressure paid off after 15 minutes as Sophie Aspinall slotted home the opener.
As has been an all too regular situation this season, Leeds found themselves behind with a large portion of the match to play. Despite this, the hosts weren’t in any mood to give up, fighting their way back into the game with strong tackles and some great midfield play. In the 26th minute, captain Louise Corkill latched onto a ball from her midfield and equalised with a shot that was goal-bound from the minute it left her stick.
Half-time saw both sides trying to keep their limbs warm as the wind showed no sign of relenting, with the respective coaches hoping their team talk would be the difference in the second 35. The whistle blew, and battle commenced again with all players determined to gain the upper hand in a fantastic example of National League hockey.
There is no doubt that short corners will be on the schedule at training this week, as it was two of these that decided the result. Unfortunately for Leeds, it was the team from Derbyshire that were scoring them. With 10 minutes left, Sarah Glenn scored from a short, leaving the Leeds keeper completely stranded, and five minutes later, Poppy Brown put the game to bed, showing that anything her team-mate could do, she could do better. A near-perfect strike netting Brown only her second goal of the season to make it 3-1.
With this result fresh in their minds, the men of Leeds decided to take revenge on their club-mates’ behalf and had the perfect start with what could be the quickest goal of the season. Straight from the push back, Leeds went into the opposition’s half and it was Nathan Hill who got the final touch, giving the home side a 1-0 lead against Belper.
The game restarted, and the lead was doubled two minutes later as Harry Lankfer showed why he is so valuable to the Leeds side with a sublime finish.
The home side never gave Belper the chance to get back into the game, as they dominated the midfield and always looked dangerous moving forward and it was three goals for Leeds as the half-time whistle came, after Carlos Hollyman demonstrated that he is just as lethal in front of goal as his colleagues, finishing off a great team move with a simple score.
Leeds started the second half in a casual manner as it took five minutes for them to change the score from three to four. Lankfer again with the goal, from open play, doubling his tally for the game.
The hosts then found themselves struggling to break down a determined and dedicated defence by Belper, as the visiting side threw their bodies on the line to ensure nothing more went past them. Pressure showed, however, as a foul by Blakemore not only saw him shown a yellow, but also gave Leeds a short corner in the last five minutes and it was Martin Sutherland who finished off a near-perfect performance by Leeds, converting the short corner.
The win gives the men’s 1sts massive momentum for their away journey to Preston next week.
Full Leeds Hockey Club results: Men’s 1sts 5 Belper 0; Men’s 2nds 3 Stockton 2; Men’s 4ths 5 City of York 0; Men’s fives 0 Leeds Adel 1; Men’s 6ths 0 Harrogate 3; Men’s 7ths 3 Boston Spa 2; Ladies 1sts 1 Belper 3; Ladies 2nds 2 Boston Spa 3; Ladies 3rds 0 Hull University 0; Ladies 4ths 4 Harrogate 0; Ladies 5ths 1 Thirsk 1; Ladies 6ths 1 Pudsey 3.