Spalding 1st bounced back from a disappointing defeat the previous week to get their promotion push back on track with a 3-2 victory over Waltham Forest 1st in East Men’s Hockey League on Saturday.
Hosts Spalding started the Premier B clash well at Glen Park as they moved the ball around well – and were duly rewarded when Stuart Cunnington slotted home a trademark short corner after ten minutes.
With Spalding getting a grip on midfield it looked as if more goals were on the way, but a swift break caught them napping and the scores were levelled with an well-taken individual goal after 20 minutes.
This perked up the visitors and, for a time, Spalding were on the back foot. However, solid defensive work from Brendan Morris, Sam Howitt and Ashley Barker kept the visitors out and, just before the break, Spalding went ahead when Glenn Richardson turned home a pin-point pass from skipper Josh Rowbottom.
Spalding took control of the second half and, as in the first, more goals looked imminent.
But some muddled defensive work let in the visitors’ striker who slotted home the equaliser.
Lack of discipline then set in and, for a while, the home side were reduced to nine men with Connor Allen and Richardson sin binned.
The defence held firm, though, and when back to full strength Spalding were back on top. The winner arrived when Cunnington put home another short corner to make it 3-2 – keeping fourth-placed Spalding within four points of the top two.
In Division One, Long Sutton slipped to a 4-3 defeat at Bishop’s Stortford and are now closer to the drop zone than the promotion hunt.
Elsewhere, a man-of-the-match showing from keeper Rob Callaby couldn’t stop Spalding 2nd going down 3-0 at high-flying Horncastle 1st.
Despite the scoreline, this was one of Spalding’s best performances of the season to date. In possession they were concise with their short passing, keeping Horncastle honest and creating space for them to express their attacking play.
After a goalless first period, Spalding continued to repel Horncastle’s advances until the breakthrough with a penalty flick 15 minutes from time. Two more late goals gave the scoreline a harsh feel.
In the same division, Spalding 3rd lost a 12-goal thriller against Ely City 1st 7-5.
Spalding started the game brightly and were soon 1-0 up when Steve Rogers slotted home after five minutes, but Ely responded quickly scoring twice after some quick passing hockey.
A neat turn and finish by Tim Maltby made it 2-2, but Ely re-took the lead to make it 3-2 at half time.
Spalding fell further behind in the second half as Ely moved 5-2 up, but Dave Burrell’s penalty got them back in the mix.
Another Ely strike was countered by a Chris McKenna effort, but when the score moved on to 7-4 with five minutes left Spalding looked beaten.
Dave Burrell pulled one back late on, but the loss leaves Spalding struggling to beat the drop.
Relegation rivals Long Sutton 2nd gained one point of them after drawing 3-3 at home to fellow strugglers Leadenham 1st.
In Division 6NW (N), Spalding 4th made it an amazing 15 wins from 15 games by crushing Wisbech Town 4th 7-0.
They now need just two ponits and two goals from the final three games to be crowned league champions and register 100 goals for the season. Their scorers were Bailey Harker (3), Darren
Willson (2), Shaun Dewing and James Reston.
In the same division, Long Sutton 3rd defeated Louth 2nd 3-0 at the Peele Leisure Centre. Jack Smith, Ian White and player-of-the-match Will Taylor netted for Sutton.
Spalding 5th, meanwhile, were granted a a 5-0 win over Long Sutton 4th after they were unable to raise a team.