Spalding Men’s 1st XI got a taste of the high-life on Saturday as they starred at the national stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
And they impressively held promotion chasing home side Wapping in the first half before succumbing to an 8-2 defeat at the £30 million Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
The East Men’s League Premier A fixture started very evenly with both sides having their share of possession, before second in the table Wapping managed to find the net 15 minutes in.
The alarm bells were literally ringing, but that helped the visitors.
A mid-half break due to the fire alarm and subsequent evacuation allowed Spalding to regroup and after the resumption they held their own against last year’s National League team.
Encouraged by the style of play in the first half, Spalding started the second immediately on the attack and equalised through a Stu Cunnington short corner.
A defensive error gifted Wapping the lead again soon after and in a mad spell of 15 minutes, Wapping seized the initiative and scored regularly to take the game beyond Spalding’s reach in another harsh lesson in this league.
Spalding pushed hard until the end and despite creating several good chances weren’t able to add to the score line until Matt Day pounced late on for a consolation goal.
Despite the defeat it was a good experience for the young team who are learning life the hard way in Premier A and entertain fellow promotion hunters City of Peterborough at Glen Park on Saturday in an 11.30am push back.
Numerous other games were called off, including the scheduled home games for Spalding’s 2nd, and 4th XIs.
Spalding 5th XI were in action in but suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss to Leadenham 3rd XI at RAF Cranwell in Division 6NW(N).
Right from the start Spalding set about the task of breaking down the hosts with typical free flowing fast passing hockey.
Once again Spalding’s youthful attacking players worked hard and gave Spalding the bulk of possession in the early stages with out of position Sullivan Smith, Daniel Plant and Alex Higham leading the line and creating several chances.
Leadenham’s strong defensive and midfield core held firm and, somewhat against the run of play, they profited from a breakaway goal.
After the break Spalding turned the screw harder in an attempt to get back on terms.
Midfielders Matthew Gedney, Harry Higgins, debutant Joshua Haines and man of the match Jacob Drew combined to pressurise and threaten without being able to find the net.
As the game drew to a close Spalding keeper Archie Arnold, who had just made a couple of great saves, was unlucky when Leadenham took advantage to double their lead and effectively kill the game.
Nonetheless this was another creditable performance from Spalding’s young team.
In the same division Spalding 6th XI slumped to the bottom of the table as they conceded defeat to Louth who leapfrog them in the rankings as a result.