A sloppy second half cost Spalding 1st dear on Saturday as they lost 4-3 to Premier B promotion rivals Ipswich/East Suffolk in East Men’s Hockey League.
Spalding started well and went 1-0 up after Glenn Richardson danced around the keeper before shelling the ball towards goal for Harry Vickers to deflect into an empty net.
Despite Spalding controlling much of the first half, the visitors levelled – only for Vickers to turn provider for Richardson to put the hosts 2-1 up.
Spalding controlled the second half with the back three camped on the half way line playing pass after pass to each other, while IES looked totally uninterested.
Things got better when Stuart Cunnington made it 3-1 from a short corner.
However, Spalding gifted IES the win as they became sloppy and gave away a number of short corners – of which they converted three.
The loss leaves Spalding five points off the top two in third place – but they are now level with IES in fourth.
In Division One, Long Sutton were handed a 4-1 home defeat by East London 1st and slip to seventh.
Elsewhere, a late goal sentenced Spalding 2nd to a 2-1 defeat at City of Peterborough (COP) 4th.
Spalding spent much of the clash camped in their own half – but It was they who, against the run of play, took the lead.
On one of their rare forays the ball was worked around well and a shot from the unlikely stick of Phil Callow was deflected in by James Stone.
COP soon hit back to make it 1-1, but they had to wait until the final five minutes for the winner.
Despite the best efforts of keeper Jason Callaby, one of his fine saves fell to a home player, who slotted home the rebound.
In the same division, Spalding 3rd were handed a heavy 7-2 home loss by high-flying Horncastle 1st.
Spalding’s youthful side were chasing shadows in the first half as they went in 5-0 down.
However, they hit back when a neat ball down the line by James Mayhew found Tim Maltby in the corner.
He came inside and threaded the ball through the defence for Steve Rogers to slot home.
The Spalding defence of Willem Borst, Arron Borst, Paul Pearson and Martin Perkins worked hard to close down the lively Horncastle forwards, but they managed to score a couple of goals to take their tally to seven.
There was, however, a late consolation goal from Chris McKenna.
Long Sutton 2nd, in the same division, lost 5-4 against at Ely City 1st in a real thriller. Nick Ellis (2), Josh Baker and Pavel Saponenko all netted as Sutton led 4-3 late on, but Ely found a leveller and then a late short corner winner.
In Division 6NW (N), table-topping Spalding 4th extended their flawless winning run to 14 games with a 7-2 victory at Louth 2nd.
The goals came from Stuart Perkins (3), Max Bland (2), Bailey Harker and Ben Scholes.
Spalding 5th also picked up a convincing 4-0 victory over Wisbech Town 4th.
Darren Grooby and Jack Martin both bagged doubles to cap a strong team display.
Long Sutton 4th also picked up a 5-0 walkover win against Alford 2nd.
Famous five for Poachers 2nd in big victory
Spalding Poachers 2nd cruised to an impressive 5-1 win over Newmarket ladies’ 2nd in East Women’s Hockey League Division 3NW on Saturday.
Newmarket rocked the Poachers with an early goal at Glen Park, but AJ Bunyan soon fired them level at Glen Park.
Eva Keyes scored Spalding’s second goal from a simple short corner strike, then Ellie Holland danced through players to score number three.
Bunyan doubled her money to make it 4-1 with a slotted finish, leaving player-of-the-match Holland to round off the rout.
Up in Division 2NW, Long Sutton 1st picked up a fine 3-0 win over Cambs Nomads to keep themselves in the hunt for the title.
They went ahead with little more than a minute to the interval, with Leanne Woodhead’s strike finding Lisa Baker, who expertly went round the keeper and stuck the ball into the backboard from very close range.
Tania White made it 2-0 with a penalty flick after Emmie Gittins saw a goal ruled out when her strike was deflected into the net by a Nomads foot.
Woodhead then diverted the ball into the top corner for a 3-0 win – and saw them move three points off top spot.
In the same division, Spalding Poachers 3rd drew 3-3 with mid-table rivals Royston 1st. Lottie Boreham (2) and Kelly Slater got the goals for Spalding – who had led 3-2 late on.
Down in Division 4NW (N), Spalding Poachers 3rd were 3-1 winners at Louth 1st. After a goalless first half, the Poachers fell behind early in the second period.
They soon equalised when Elaine Allen’s effort was bundled into the net by a defender. Rachel Adams and Lisa Ceaser then rounded off the win.
FIXTURES (Saturday, selected)
East Men’s League
Premier B: Spalding 1st v Waltham Forest 1st (2pm).
Division One: Bishops Stortford 1st v Long Sutton 1st (1.30pm).
Division 3NW: Horncastle 1st v Spalding 2nd (1pm); Spalding 3rd v Ely City 1st (12.30pm); Long Sutton 2nd v Leadenham 1st (2.30pm).
Division 6NW (N): Wisbech Town 4th v Spalding 4th (noon); Long Sutton 3rd v Louth 2nd (11.30am); Spalding 5th v Long Sutton 4th (3.30pm).
East Women’s League
Division 2NW: Long Sutton 1st v Spalding 1st (1pm).
Division 3NW: Spalding 2nd v Pelicans 1st (11am).
Division 4NW (N): Skegness 1st v Spalding 3rd (3.30pm); Leadenham 1st v Long Sutton 2nd (1pm).