Leadenham Hockey Club entered the new year fixtures after nearly a full month off, with the Christmas break extended following match postponements caused by frozen pitches.
The club got off to a mixed start, commencing with the ladies’ visit to Bourne Deeping Dragons. Leadenham made the most of their well-rested legs to play high tempo attacking hockey from beginning to end, culminating in a 10-0 victory.
Player-of-the-match Ciara Wright converted a penalty flick and was joined in the scoring by Katherine Price, Zoe Dunnett, Emily Smith and Sally Darling – plus an astonishing five goals from a lethal Katie Ireland.
Unfortunately, the men’s thirds could not match that result at home as they fell to defeat against another Bourne Deeping side whose intelligent use of substitutions kept Leadenham under consistent pressure. Max Cullen put in a stand-out performance in midfield, but the match finished 3-0 to the visitors.
The men’s firsts looked promising in the early stages of their fixture against Spalding, taking an early 3-0 lead through Will Dean, Will Cutler and David Nelstrop.
Unfortunately, the long winter lay-off had clearly impacted fitness levels as the hosts came back with two goals before the half time whistle.
Spalding grabbed another early on in the second half but Leadenham seemed to have killed the game off with a superb counter-attack, capped by Greg Amess.
Alas, a defensive lapse allowed Spalding to score from a short corner and the game ended 4-4.
Finally, the seconds also visited Spalding, but managed to come away with all three points, maintaining their spotless record in the league under new captain Thomas Pinchbeck.
Disciplined use of the high press enabled Leadenham to stifle Spalding attacks early and spring effective counter attacks.
The opening goal was a textbook example of passing hockey with Benjamin Huggins demonstrating brilliant vision to pick out Jack Cullen at the edge of the Spalding D, who then selflessly rolled the ball beyond the on-rushing goalkeeper to Neil Ireland, who needed little more than a tap in to finish.
Further goals from Neil Ireland, Andy Carter and Sam Darling rounded off a good day for the twos, however fatigue did cause them to lose shape and allow Spalding a consolation goal late on; 4-1 the end result.
Full results: Division 3 NW – Spalding M2 4 LHC M1 4; Division 4 NW – Bourne Deeping L3 0 LHC L1 10; Division 6 NWN – LHC M3 0 Bourne Deeping M6 3, Spalding M5 1 LHC M2 4.