HOCKEY ROUND-UP: Fightback not enough to save Saints from defeat

MATCH ACTION - Saints take on Rugby & East Warwick on Saturday
MATCH ACTION - Saints take on Rugby & East Warwick on Saturday

Saints’ disappointing run continued with a 6-4 home defeat against high flying Rugby & East Warwick.

Saints did take the lead in the opening minute through Gareth Parker after a defensive error, and for next 15 minutes enjoyed the majority of possession.

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However, complacency and basic errors led to rugby scoring three before half time, their Polish international bagging a hat-trick in the space of 10 minutes.

A solid start to the seconds half was essential, if Saints were going to get back into the match however they conceded two further goals as defensive lapses and weak defending cost the home side.

Saints only started fighting after Joe Kopka pulled a goal back from a Martyn Cory cross.

Saints put Rugby under immense pressure and made it 5-3 three when Dave Saunders cleverly deflected in a Parker shot.

After Saints won their second short corner of the game Ben Scott drag flicked home to pull them back to within one goal, but unfortunately it was never meant to be.

Rugby broke away and won a short corner which crept inside the right hand post.

The game ended 6-4 and meants Saints suffered their second home loss of the season.

A much-improved performance against Edgbaston is needed next week to end the first half of the season on a high.

Coventry & NW 2 Saints IIs 6

It was Saints who took the lead in this scrappy encounter, through a quickly thrown aerial from Danny Whitfield into space, where Dan Rose was first to ball, before cutting inside and slotting the ball under a diminutive opposition goalkeeper.

The goal settled Saints somewhat, as a confidence to switch the play around the defence emerged.

However, a high press from C&NW caused a modicum of panic, and it took a second goal to relieve some of the pressure.

A swift attack down the right hand side into space resulted in a tap in for Tom Wightman, who celebrated his first goal of the season vigorously.

However, it was Coventry who struck next.

A cheap turnover of possession in midfield left the defence exposed, and it was capitalised upon with a swift attack resulting in a goal, and a half time score of 2-1 to the visitors.

As the second half began, the scrappy hockey continued.

Errors were made on both sides, and Saints continued to play fluid hockey only in patches.

However, one such patch resulted in a third goal, as Saints swept forward and Ian Tipples was on hand to convert on his return to the team.

With a two-goal advantage, Saints allowed Coventry to grow into the game, as their centre back started to control the ball.

Centre back Lewis Ward comfortably dealt with the majority of the attacks thrust upon him, until five minutes sustained pressure combined with the defence switching off for the briefest of moments, and some average movement from the opposition finding some space in front of goal, resulted in a reduction of the deficit.

Saints, now motivated by their superiority not being reflected in the score line, sought an immediate response, which came through a swift attack resulting in a conversion from Alex Blunt, who had drifted in from the left to pounce and swipe in to take the score to 4-2.

As Coventry attempted an unlikely comeback, the match became stretched and scrappier still. In a rare break, the ball evaded the Saints defence, and it was left for Robin Sawyer to pull out a full-length dive to deny the onrushing attackers.

A bit of niggle entered the game as the home team’s frustrations rose and Saints asserted their superiority.

A choice to move to a high press reaped dividends as Coventry could not move the ball out of defence, and Sam Mitchell pounced, drove into the D and cut the ball back for Tipples to score his second.

Coventry were awarded a penalty corner, however the set piece was quickly turned over and a swift counter attack ensued, with the ball breaking to Dan Rose, who beat his man before slotting the ball over the onrushing keeper to take the score to 6-2.

Saints IIIs 1 Rugby & EW IIIs 4

Against Rugby Saints wanted to make a winning statement to the league, especially with leaders Belper awaiting the following week.

The game started a bit workmanlike, each team making their presence felt on the other, sometimes a bit too much for the umpires’ liking.

Saints took the lead after the ball was played to the P sport, allowing Luke Pibworth to score between the keepers legs.

Despite this confidence boost, Saints did not settle and allowed a few nervous moments in their D.

As the half wore on it was evident that Saints were lacking composure on the ball and after the forwards were dispossessed, Rugby equalized with 10 seconds left in the half.

Unfortunately this unwanted skill of giving the ball away too easily continued and Rugby scored twice in quick succession in the second half.

The nail in the coffin was complete for Saints as a foot near the line allowed Rugby to score from a penalty stroke.

Saints came close to scoring a second after a fine save from the keeper, but by this stage Saints were merely trying to salvage whatever pride they could.

Squad: Adam Powell, Will Gamble, Andy Dale, James Miller, Jason Hillier, Andy Wade, Harry Stobart, Ian McIlwaine, Lewis Moran, Hugo Day, Luke Pibworth, Lee O’Donnell, Nigel Down

Saints IVs 6 Belper 1

The game started well for Saints with an early goal from skipper David Henry who slotted the ball neatly past the keeper.

Saints continued to push hard and were reward with a penalty corner, a textbook routine enabled Jon Noble to unleash a rocket drag flick past the keepers ear and it was 2-0.

Saints came under considerable pressure from Belper, but the solid Defence of Jim Phipps and Steve Morris, not to mention fantastic hounding from Matt Candler, soaked this up.

Saints won another short corner but due to an error the home side were caught on the break and Belper managed to capitalise with a well worked goal to made the score 2-1.

In the second half Saints needed to compose and regroup and sure enough they did, the third goal coming from Lloyd Atkinson’s reverse stick tap past the keeper.

Moments later, Saints attacked with a superb three-way move from Dave Henry to Lloyd Atkinson who fed Chris Godman the opportunity to half-volley the ball past the dumbstruck keeper and it was 4-1.

Saints were hungry for more and pushed harder and harder with great tenacity from Gary Paterson, Ant Condon and Luke Howard in the midfield.

This allowed the forward line to score again, with Lloyd Atkinson grabbing his second from a deflection off the keeper 5-1.

The last goal of the game was scored by skipper Dave Henry who finished elegantly putting Belper to bed at 6-1.

Saints VIIs 1 North Notts Vs 3

After a scrappy first half, the game came alive in the second as North Notts’ long ball game eventually found a willing target in space in the D.

He may well have been the smallest player on the field, but having been gift wrapped a free shot on goal he didn’t hesitate in putting away the first goal North Notts 5s had scored.

This served as a good wake up call for Saints who almost immediately picked up the pace and Adam Wright found himself with the ball and in space just outside the 23m line.

He charged headlong to the D, drawing the defence and keeper before casually slipping the ball to Tim Warburton who calmly placed the ball beyond the keeper’s reach.

Having evened the score, captain Jon Keep was encouraging more of the same and it looked like the team were going to pull things back.

The pressure continued until another long ball and break from North Notts found the smallest player yet again able to make space in the D and score his second.

At this point heads dropped for Saints.

Tenacious work on the right side of the field from Micheal Dicken and Tim Riches, wouldn’t yield the goal they needed.

Several shots ran wide and one hit the woodwork, but for all the pressure there wasn’t the finish that Saints needed.

The final nail in the coffin came from a good clean short corner strike. North Notts had deservedly won their first match of the season.

Squad: Dean Gibson, Tim Riches, Martin Skinner, Ian Street, Owain Mahoney, Adam Wright, Rob Frost, Micheal Dicken, Jon Keep, Tim Warburton, Nigel Riches


Saints IIIs 4 Wildcatz 2

Playing a strong Wildcatz side from the start the match was strongly contested with both teams putting in solid tackles and demonstrating good distribution of the ball.
Saints were first to score. A cross in to the D from Ness Kingston was picked up by Jules Herring, who was quickly closed down by the goalie, committed to the tackle but just too late as Herring slipped the ball to Rosie Barnes, who didn’t hesitate to bury the ball in the open goal. Great finish Rosie Barnes!
Wildcatz equalised just before half time, but not to be beaten Saints came back refreshed and Becca Herring once again in the perfect position picked up the ball and put Saints into the lead. This was followed fairly quickly by a text book short corner where Ness Kingston delivered the ball back to the injector Sarah Walker who with perfect timing deflected the ball behind the goalie and into the corner.
3-1 down Wildcatz picked up their game and pressed repeatedly only to be stopped time after time by the solid Saints defence, particularly Sophie Burnham who had her game of the season and at only 15 she is already proving herself to be a formidable force, with perfect timing. Wildcatz managed to pull a goal back only for Saints to pick up the pressure, win a short and see Kingston once again put in a well timed slip, this time to Nat Raca who buried the ball in the back of the net. 4-2 Saints.

Rushden and Higham 2 Saints IVs 4

Saints kept up the pressure on leaders Earls Barton with this win at Rushden and Higham.

Saints dominated the first half with an excellent goal from Lou Harte, quickly followed by a tap in from Trudy Royer.

Becky Easton made it 3-0 with a great bit of individual skill, rounding three players and forcing the ball over the line.

The second half was a lot more competitive with Rushden and Higham putting pressure on a tiring Saints, and scoring twice in quick succession.

However, Lou Harte made the result safe for the Saints, grabbing a second goal to make it 4-2.

This topped off a great day for the Harte family, with both Lou and daughter, Maisie, sharing player of the match, the latter for her energetic debut.