HOCKEY: Leadenham tournament exposes ring-rusty Grantham

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GRANTHAM Hockey Club travelled to Leadenham for a mixed 11-a-side tournament and on a blisteringly hot day, but were unable to match strong teams from Leadenham, Horncastle, Newark and the Panthers.

Former players Ross Booth, Simon Higgs, Robert Metheringham and Simon Chambers were in action for Leadenham and Newark, and for many of Grantham’s players this was their first run-out of the pre-season.

John Pennington, David Starr and Graham Johnson all missed the end of last season due to injury but used the tournament to buid their fitness ahead of the new season, and all three pulled through satisfactorily.

Sarah Johnson recovered from an early blow to the hand to firm up the right-hand side and her colleagues Ellie Johnson, Iona Charlton, Georgina Barratt and Kirstin Barney worked hard all day, Young being named as Grantham women’s player of the tournament. Will Leadenham made several outstanding saves, constantly frustrating attackers and keeping the score lines respectable before being named as Grantham’s man of the tournament.

Grantham’s ring-rustiness showed in the opening game as hosts Leadenham did not have to be at their best to run out 4-0 winners, although strong work from the defence of Barratt, Pennington and Braunton made them work hard for the opening goal – after which they found the going much easier.

Horncastle mixed excellent individual skills with a quick passing game that Grantham struggled with, although the scoreline was the same largely thanks to a number of brilliant saves from goalkeeper Leadenham.

As Grantham improved as the day went on, Newark found the going harder but made superior possession and territory pay by scoring three times as Grantham spent long periods battling to get the ball out of their half.

Against the Panthers, Grantham played their best hockey of the day, working the ball around and keeping hold of it against the sharpest team in the tournament. As well as Grantham did when they had the ball, they were far less incisive than their opponents, who scored four times.

Again, Leadenham turned in an impressive performance, saving and clearing on several occasions, proving himself unmatched in terms of shot-stopping on the day.

Grantham: Will Leadenham, Georgina Barratt, John Pennington, Graham Johnson, Sarah Johnson, David Braunton, Ellie Johnson, David Starr, Iona Charlton, Benjie Groom (c), Will Hill, Kirstin Barney.

l Training has begun at The Meres on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm with further fitness sessions planned for Thursday evenings around the town. New members are welcome to go along. Visit www.granthamhockey.co.uk for more information or email granthamhockeyclub@gmail.com