HOCKEY: Leadenham men all win as ladies’ decider is postponed
Snow and ice again threatened to disturb Leadenham Hockey Club’s weekend fixtures, and indeed the potentially championship-deciding ladies’ match with Spilsby was called off.
This delay could see the crowning of the Division Four champions postponed until mid-April.
Three men’s fixtures got the go-ahead and were played out in less than ideal conditions, but all three resulted in wins.
The first XI got off to a shaky start when defender Ben Lane was forced off with an ankle injury. Opponents Ely City looked strong on the ball but could not find a way through Leadenham’s reshuffled back four.
Instead, it was a Leadenham counter attack which opened the scoring, Nathan Chambers initiating the break which was smartly finished by Cam Salisbury at the top of the Ely D.
Salisbury added a second with 10 minutes left in the half, Stabbing in at the far post as Sam MacAllister’s shot looked to be drifting wide.
The second half continued in much the same way, Ely dominating possession but Leadenham showing more of a cutting edge with counter attacks.
Charlie Cade continued his current goal scoring run with two fine finishes, taking the score to 4-0 in the latter stages of the game.
Tempers frayed as Ely became more frustrated with Leadenham’s defensive solidity and the game became much more physical. A yellow card was issued following a blatant push on Ben Groom from an Ely forward. And Greg Amess also saw yellow a few minutes later for a similar offence.
This more rugged style of play seemed to suit the visitors who scored twice in the final minutes, but time ran out and Leadenham held on to victory.
Poor weather blighted the seconds game against City of Peterborough, with rare bright moments punctuating the flurries of snow.
The first half saw a slow and steady performance from the home side as they looked to improve on the previous week’s lacklustre performance.
Neil Ireland opened the scoring and James Ireland added a second from the penalty spot but, for the most part, Leadenham struggled to find the passing rhythm that has defined the most positive stages of this season.
Peterborough’s young side offered a consistent threat on the break with their fast pace and technical ability, but defensive focus has been a consistent factor in Leadenham 2nd’s success and Thomas Pinchbeck was rarely troubled between the posts.
In the second half, Leadenham’s forward line came alive, adding a further five goals to seal a comfortable win, with Neil Ireland completing his hat trick.
Henry Young also notched a hat trick for the men’s thirds when they travelled to Wisbech.
In similar style to the firsts, the thirds based their success on a strong defence, Tom Cade and Freddie Naylor particularly standing out as they held firm against a persistent Wisbech front line.
A rapid counter from Leadenham led to a short corner, allowing Young to net his first. The second came as Leadenham’s high press forced the home side into an error, and presented Young with a fine opportunity to double the advantage.
Leadenham continued to hold firm in the second half. steadily building possession of their own. Steve Gretton turned out an impressive display in midfield, setting up the phase of play that led to Young’s third.
In the final five minutes Wisbech pushed hard and managed to grab a consolation, but the thirds held out for another well-deserved victory.
The club would like to offer its thanks to the umpires and sponsors Mountain Skip Hire.
Results: Division 3NW – LHC M1 4 Ely City M1 2 (C. Salisbury 2, C. Cade 2); Division 6NWN – LHC M2 7 CoP M8 0 (N. Ireland 3, J. Ireland 2, A. Carter, B. Huggins), Wisbech M4 1 LHC M3 3 (H. Young (3).