HOCKEY: Two out of three ain’t good for Leadenham club
It was a disappointing weekend for Leadenham Hockey Club who recorded two defeats across their three games.
The men’s second team started the day with a positive result. Travelling to Wisbech for an early pushback, Leadenham looked to maintain their impressive 100 per cent record.
Having not played for two weeks, the pace of the young Wisbech team threatened to unsettle Leadenham in the opening exchanges, but they gradually found their feet and the high press employed by the men in black led to possession dominance.
Sam Darling opened the scoring when his mishit flick bobbled under the opposing goalkeeper, who had anticipated a much higher shot.
The Wisbech number one then made a string of remarkable saves to keep the scores close but, before the stroke of half time, another better-executed flick from Darling doubled the Leadenham advantage.
As the second half resumed, birthday boy Jack Cullen found his name on the scoresheet again, in what has been an eye-catching season for the young forward.
With the three goal cushion, Leadenham allowed themselves more freedom to push up the pitch, resulting in two goals for centre back Neil Baldwin.
This high line was, however, vulnerable and a late break did threaten to spoil the clean sheet record, but captain Thomas Pinchbeck maintained his concentration to make the vital save.
The third team arguably deserved at least a point as they put in a battling performance at home against Bourne Deeping, but instead fell to a 3-2 defeat.
Their recent good form had given the third string a lot of confidence, shown in the smooth pass and move combinations used to pressure the visiting defence. However, they lacked the cutting edge in front of goal required to get their noses out in front.
It was the away team who broke the deadlock on 15 minutes, converting a penalty corner. Another set-piece goal followed to give a 2-0 lead at half time.
A tactical shift during the break yielded early results for Leadenham. Charlie Cade reduced the deficit using great technical skill to open a one-on-one opportunity with the Bourne keeper, and coolly slotted home.
Penalty corners are usually a strong point for the thirds but Bourne made good use of them on the day, converting a third despite claims that the final ball was controlled using the back of a stick.
But in the dying minutes, Nick Turner grabbed a goal of his own with a fierce drive from the top of the D.
The first team also fell to a 3-2 defeat at home.
Ian Sanderson opened proceedings with an early goal, but further positive attacking play bore little fruit as the hosts spurned a number of chances.
Instead, it was Cambridge who showed the cutting edge, replying twice to give themselves the advantage at half time.
The second half was for the most part a quiet affair, punctuated only by a brief stoppage to allow treatment for a Cambridge player’s head wound.
Late drama erupted, though, when talented youth Greg Amess equalised.
This sparked a late flurry of end-to-end hockey and, as the final whistle approached, the vistors were awarded a penalty corner which they duly converted to take all three points.
The disappointment of this defeat has, however, been eased by the confirmation that Leadenham have avoided relegation as other results went their way.
The club thanks all umpires, opponents and club sponsor Mountain Skip Hire.
Results: Div 3NW – LHC M1 2 Cambridge City Vets 3 (Anderson, Amess); Div 6NWN – LHC M3 2 Bourne Deeping M5 3 (Cade, Turner), Wisbech M3 0 LHC M2 5 (Darling 2, Cullen, Baldwin 2).