Spalding III 1 – 2 Newmarket I
Newmarket travelled to Lincolnshire looking to beat one of the two teams to dent this seasons 100% record. Newmarket were unfortunate to lose Duncan Freed who suffered a recurrence of a long standing injury during the warm up. Unperturbed Newmarket started well, Mark Pears and Ben Shepperson finding lots of space running the channels up front, Andrew Beardon and Chris Leggett competed brilliantly in the middle making it difficult for Spalding to get out of their half. When Spalding did they found Adrian Atkinson, Pete Boyle, William Wilson and Ben Coupe resilient at the back.
Newmarket intelligently used the width to get effect with Josh Dawson and Ollie Wade troubling the full backs on either side. Newmarket drew first blood from a penalty corner routine which unusually broke down, Wilson found Shepperson who played a one two with Dawson before calmly slotting past the keeper.
Spalding were struggling to get a foot hold in the game, often resorting to long balls which went off the base line. From the 16 yard line Newmarket moved the ball out wide to Atkinson and Boyle who fed Dawson and Wade, to create numerous chances, Pears put a good opportunity wide and the team wasted a few other chances before Wade and Shepperson combined down the left, putting Shepperson clear before he finished form the top of the D with a reverse stick shot.
Newmarket made some changes with Dawson coming off for a rest to be replaced by Ben Gotfredsen. Soon after the half time whistle went with Newmarket fully deserving their two goal lead. Within 30 seconds of the restart Newmarket did their best to throw away the good work from the first half. After a few missed tackles and clumsy challenge from Wade was punished as a penalty corner was awarded. Spalding duly scored and pulled the score back to 2-1.
Newmarket now looked a little tense, the free flowing hockey of the first half disappeared and Newmarket too often looked to play the ball through the middle of the pitch. For the next 10 minutes Spalding put Newmarket under considerable pressure, while they were able to force several penalty corners they were unable to beat goal keeper Chris Warren again.
Once Newmarket had weathered the storm they began to re-establish themselves and they thought they had restored their two goal cushion form a penalty corner, Wilson slipped the ball to Pears who deflected into the net, after at first giving the goal and the umpires reversed after protests from the home team and crowd. Josh Dawson voiced his opinions from the sidelines and was duly sent off forcing Newmarket down to 10 men for 5 minutes.
Despite being down to 10 men, Newmarket still looked the better side, fashioning many more chances only to be thwarted by the Spalding keeper, even when Gotfredsen beat the keeper from the top of the D a defender on the line dived to deflect the ball wide. The final whistle went and Newmarket celebrated a win which was more emphatic than the score line suggested.
Man of the match was Ben Shepperson for his all action display and brace of goals, but he was pushed hard but the tireless Chris Leggett, Ben Coupe who marked one of the league’s top scorers out of the game and the ever improving and Pete Boyle at full back. The next match is at home to March on Saturday 26th 3:30pm at Newmarket Leisure Centre.