HOCKEY: Horncastle men record ninth win in a row

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Horncastle Men’s 1st XI 5

Leadenham Men’s 1st XI 2

Horncastle took on Leadenham at the weekend, looking to defend their perfect start to their league campaign with a ninth successive win.

Leadenham’s league form had been good in recent weeks and they started the better of the two sides, putting Horncastle’s defence under sustained pressure for the opening 10 minutes; however, the back four of Fixter, Partridge, J. Cartwright and A. Cartwright were able to stand firm.

Horncastle gradually worked their way into the game and won a penalty stroke after Scott was brought down in the D whilst controlling an excellent first time pass from Foster. The stroke was converted calmly by Bennett to give the home side a slender lead, but Leadenham responded quickly, scoring straight after the restart to make it 1-1.

With their noses now bloodied, Horncastle piled forward and retook the lead, with Bradley sweeping home a fine reverse stick finish. However, the away side soon levelled the game once more, although this time they were assisted by Horncastle captain Scott who put the ball into his own net following a Leadenham short corner.

This was not the end of the scoring in an extremely unpredictable first half, with Bennett converting a short corner with a drag flick into the top of the net to give Horncastle a 3-2 advantage going into the break.

Horncastle looked to try and manage the game better in the second half and started brightly, causing Leadenham’s backline to become increasingly stretched.

This improved start was rewarded when the ball was worked quickly into the D by the Horncastle frontline and Foster squared the ball across the face of goal to give Scott a simple tap-in.

Leadenham continued to pose a threat on the break and Horncastle’s two goal advantage was kept intact by keeper Murrell making a timely sliding save to deny the opposition a foothold in the game.

Horncastle did finally make the three points safe when Scott grabbed another goal, flicking home a reverse finish after a scramble in the area.

This brought an end to an extremely entertaining game and left Horncastle’s perfect start to the season intact.

Partridge was unanimously voted man of the match following a fine performance at left back, providing a much needed calmness on the ball in a hectic game.

Horncastle: Murrell, Partridge, Fixter, J. Cartwright, A. Cartwright, Bee, Scott, Bennett, Seymour, Bradley, Foster, Castleden.

n Special mention goes to Nick Bennet who returned to the team this week after a successful trip to Malaysia where he umpired in the FIH Sultan of Johor Cup. The tournament involved some of the world’s best U21 international players and Nick umpired four matches before being selected to officiate in the final which involved Australia and Pakistan, with Australia running out 3-1 winners. Congratulations on an excellent tournament Nick, from everyone at Horncastle Hockey Club.

Spalding Ladies’ 2nd XI 0

Horncastle Ladies’ 1st XI 0

Horncastle ladies’ ninth game of the season was away at Spalding this week against Spalding’s second team.

Despite the rain and cold conditions, it was a strong attacking start for Horncastle with successful short, sharp passes moving deep into the opposition’s half shown by Ali McConnachie, Steph Brayshaw and Alice Cannon.

Unfortunately, Spalding reacted quickly to the attacking attempts, meaning Horncastle’s defence made up of Emily Tokelove, Alex Tokelove, Tamsin Roark and McConnachie had to set up and act fast, marking players with ease and making sure all advances at goal were shut down effectively.

Spalding ladies challenged Horncastle with quick hard balls into the D which pressed their defence a couple of times in the first half, resulting in two short corners which were competently kept out by goalkeeper Laura Neame and her defence.

Each time Horncastle acted quickly with strong, effective balls from the 16s taken by Emily Tokelove which enabled wings Bea Spendlove and Lottie Hopwood to sit wide on the pitch and receive the ball, passing on to the midfield with several more attacking drives deep into the opposition’s half.

This made way for attacker Hannah Wood to drive straight into the D solo, with a shot at goal which just went shy of the opposition’s near post.

After half time, Horncastle worked well together, pressing Spalding high up the pitch which put their attackers under pressure and gave way to a Horncastle ball in the first two minutes of the second half. Following some good postioning and passes between Brayshaw and Wood, the pair drove into the D which was again kept at bay by Spalding’s defence.

Horncastle ringed the defence high in the opposition’s 16s and due to some fast balls from Spalding’s right back, put Horncastle’s defence under pressure once again, resulting in a further two short corners effectively defended.

With just minutes to go, one last drive up the right wing and a great pass to Wood meant another run for goal, but the whistle blew and Horncastle finished with a share of the spoils.

Well done to Ali McConnachie for earning this week’s player of the match title.

With their heads up, Horncastle ladies invite all to watch their next match at home to the Pelicans this Saturday.