Spalding 1st suffered their third East Men’s Hockey League Premier A defeat on the bounce on Saturday – but they very much looked like they belong at their new level in the 3-1 loss at Cambridge Uni 1st.
Although results haven’t gone their way in their first season in the East League’s top flight, they were eager to put in a strong performance this time around and took the game from the off.
The first half was very open, with end-to-end play throughout. It was Spalding who opened the scoring, with Sam Highfield on hand to finish a sweet move from defence through to attack.
Spalding had a couple of great chances to extend their lead, which fell to Connor Allen and Steve Rogers, but the visitors couldn’t capitalise.
Typically, Uni seized on the away side pushing forward with a breakaway goal just before the half-time break.
The second half continued at a frenetic pace, but despite having a smaller squad, Spalding managed to keep up with the fitness and pace shown by the students.
That was, until two injuries in a couple of minutes meant personnel changes and Uni seized on the opportunity to grab the lead with ten minutes left on the clock.
Spalding went for broke to search for the equaliser and pushed forward in the last minutes of the game, but conceded a third to give the students the win.
Having now played three from the top four in the league already, Spalding host last year’s National League relegated team Wapping at Glen Park on Saturday (11.30am).
Meanwhile, Long Sutton 1st are also without a win in Division One after a thrilling 5-5 draw with Shefford and Sandy at the Peele Leisure Centre.
Sutton led 3-2 at the break thanks to two Ben Shore strikes and a Josh Fyson effort. That soon became 3-3 in the early stages of the second period, only for Shore to complete his hat-trick and put Sutton ahead again.
Typically, Shefford levelled to make it 4-4, before Fyson buried a penalty flick with just five minutes left.
They couldn’t hold on, however, with the visitors getting a late equaliser and them missing a big chance to snatch the win at the death.
Down in Division 3NW, both Spalding 2nd and Spalding 3rd also suffered their third defeats on the spin.
Spalding 2nd were handed a 5-2 defeat by league leaders Kettering, but put in a much improved showing.
Lawrence Smith-Hughes bagged a couple of goals on his debut as the home side went into the break on even terms, but they conceded a sloppy goal after the break and couple of late efforts sealed their fate.
Spalding 3rd, meanwhile, travelled to Ely 1st in high spirits after an encouraging showing last time out.
But they were handed a 6-0 reverse in a very one-sided affair.
At no point could Spalding get a foothold in the game and spent most the afternoon chasing shadows
It was a better day for Long Sutton 2nd in Division 4NW, as they made it two wins from as many home games this season.
Josh Baker cut in from the right flank to net the opener, before Will White kept up his goal-a-game ratio with a good finish from a corner rebound.
Sutton made the game safe late on when Baker was able to unleash a comprehensive reverse stick finish.
In Division 5NW, Spalding 4th lost 5-4 against Louth 1st in a nine-goal thriller.
Kieran Scholes and Shaun Dewing both notched to make it 2-2 at the break. Frazer Watt and Scholes then bagged in the second period, but Spalding were left with nothing to show for their efforts.
Elsewhere, man-of-the-match Tyler Hagan helped himself to a double as Long Sutton 3rd beat Bourne Deeping 5th 4-2 in Division 6NW (N). Ian White and Pavel Saponenko also netted.
The other 6NW (N) clash saw Spalding 5th draw 0-0 at Wisbech 4th.
- A solitary short corner strike sentenced Spalding Poachers 1st to a first loss of the East Women’s Hockey League season on Saturday.
After a goalless first half in the Division 2NW clash at Cambridge University 2nd, Spalding were unfortunate to concede from the short corner and, despite creating a string of chances, went down 1-0.
Long Sutton 1st, meanwhile, remain unbeaten in the same division after a 1-1 draw at Cambs South 1st.
In Division 3NW, Spalding Poachers 2nd made it two wins from three games with a 1-0 victory over Cambridge University 3rd.
Eva Keyes hammered in her first goal of the season to settle the clash, with Codie O’Leary named player of the match.
Down in Division 4NW (N), Spalding Poachers 3rd were unlucky to lose 2-1 against a very strong Leadenham 1st outfit.
A great strike from Lisa Caesar had put them ahead at one point, but the table-toppers hit back to clinch the points.
In the same division, Long Sutton 2nd were without a fixture.