HOCKEY: League leaders Horncastle draw at home

Horncastle Hockey Club men's first XI.
Horncastle Hockey Club men's first XI.

Horncastle Men’s 1st XI 1

St Ives Men’s 1st XI 1

Horncastle welcomed St Ives to the playing fields to kick off the second half of the season.

After securing a 3-2 win in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, Horncastle sat at the top of the table with a lead of two points over their visiting rivals going into the match. This made the fixture a virtual six-pointer.

The match began with an intensity befitting of the occasion, St Ives starting in possession and bringing the game to Horncastle, putting the home defence under immediate pressure. Horncastle absorbed much of this early pressure and looked to hit back on the counter-attack, the back line holding possession and building play from the back.

Unfortunately, Horncastle’s forward line were not quite as comfortable with the ball as their defence, with multiple attacks breaking down in the final third. The breakthrough for the home team finally came after a swift counter-attack resulted in Rob Scott calmly chipping a reverse stick shot over the on-rushing St Ives keeper.

Horncastle saw out the remainder of the half in much the same manner, pressuring the visiting side on the ball and retaining possession well. Mixing spells of possession with direct counter-attacking play gave Horncastle a few more chances to increase their lead, though none clear cut.

The second half started with Horncastle looking to catch the visiting side unawares with a quick attack straight from the first whistle. St Ives had re-organised and playing with renewed vigour.

Possession turned over and the end to end hockey that had been on display in the first half resumed. The Horncastle defence was quickly under pressure again, battling valiantly away against an onslaught of St Ives attacks.

Great defensive work from Cartwright, in the centre, allowed Horncastle to get the ball wide to full backs Castleden and Partridge. This, coupled with tireless work from Scott, Bee, Bennett, Dutton and Foster through the middle and movement from forwards Read and Seymour, created space and allowed Horncastle to maintain their lead.

This high workrate, and with no substitutes, soon told and St Ives won a series of short corners, culminating in an equalising goal.

Horncastle restarted the game looking to retake their lead, treading a fine line between defensive solidity and creating attacking opportunities.

The only chances of note came from a shot wide to the left of the goal for Horncastle, again from Scott. And only an outstanding save from Horncastle keeper Murrell kept St Ives from taking all the points.

Horncastle remain two points clear top of the league going into the Christmas break.

Wisbech Ladies’ 3rd XI 0

Horncastle Ladies’ 1st XI 8

Horncastle ladies travelled away for the second match of the season against Wisbech Town 3rd.

After beating Wisbech 1-0 earlier in the season, hopes were high for a win, and Horncastle started the game with ambition and drive, forcing the ball immediately into Wisbech’s half. Horncastle had several strong shots at goal but the keeper was on top of her game and prevented striker Hannah Wood from scoring.

The game soon became very frantic with positional discipline slipping as Horncastle were eager to break the previous eight game performance of no goals. After a few words of wisdom from Horncastle’s manager Mark Johnson, from the side line, the game calmed down and went back to good simple hockey.

Clever stick work from centre midfielder Steph Brayshaw saw the ball being fed back into Wisbech’s D where Izzy Williams successfully shot at goal to put Horncastle a goal up at half time.

Horncastle earned their first short corner of the game. Steph Brayshaw took a direct strike at goal but the ball was deflected out where Tamsin Roark was positioned perfectly to chip the ball around the keeper to double the lead.

Moments later, another shot corner was awarded to Horncastle, and careful passing around the defence in the D again set Roark up for her second goal of the game.

After a poor restart, Wisbech broke through into Horncastle’s defending half, however, solid defending by Lottie Hopwood stopped them in their tracks. Hopwood then passed straight up the wing to Catherine Andrews who again won Horncastle another short corner. This time a hard strike at goal from Brayshaw saw Horncastle ladies 4-0 up.

The game restarted with force as Horncastle’s Fliss Beall took the ball past several of the opposition and into the D where Hannah wood won a penalty flick. Emily Tokelove stepped up to take the flick and slotted the ball in the bottom corner.

Horncastle were forced back to defend once more as Wisbech made another move for goal, but the strong defensive back line of Hopwood, Emily Tokelove and Alex Tokelove quickly blocked their attack.

Roark made the most of the opportunity and bagged herself a hat trick, bringing Horncastle to a very strong 6-0 up with just 15 minutes to go.

Wisbech came back fighting with a strong attack on goal forcing keeper Laura Neame out. The ball was soon sent back to midfield where Brayshaw and Nicky worked beautifully together to take the ball around the strong line of defence. A strong push into the D from Nicky set striker Carly Neame up for a seventh goal.

Horncastle’s hunger for more goals became apparent in the last 10 minutes. After many shots at goal and subsequently more great saves by Wisbech’s keeper, Emily Tokelove took a shot from the edge of the D which lifted beyond the keeper’s reach to bring the final score to 8-0.

Horncastle player of the match was Tamsin Roark and the team are now looking forward to the season starting again after the Christmas break and the next home game against Newmarket.