|Date||24 November 2018|
|Team||Mens 1st Team|
|Result||L 1 - 4|
Belper HC 1 – 4 Leeds HC
S. Dixon (PC)
Belper HC 1stXI remain second bottom of the MHL North Conference after a disappointing defeat against an experienced Leeds Hockey Club. A dreadful start to the game saw the hosts 3-0 behind in the opening 24 minutes, a situation they were unable to recover despite a Sam Dixon penalty corner strike in an improved second period. The defeat leaves the Derbyshire side with just 4 points from their first 9 games as they go into the Christmas Break.
A welcomed return to the Meadows, after two tough away trips, should have provided the catalyst for a strong performance in front of their own crowd; however, a dreary opening 5 minutes set the tone for the next 30. A combination of poor decision making, and a lack of concentration led to the hosts given possession away regularly. It came as little surprise when Leeds took the lead from a penalty corner after Nathan Hill converted from the top of the circle on 8 minutes. With the visitors under little pressure, they were able to pick their passes and penetrate the Belper back line at ease. With the hosts putting up little resistance Leeds extended their lead not once, but twice when firstly David Swarbrick ran unopposed into the Belper circle to fire in, on the reverse, before Harry Lankfer made it 3-0 with a cool finish at the back post. With the visitors in complete control, the half ended in favour of a dominant Leeds.
After an exchange of a few home truths during the break, Belper returned for the second half in a more determined fashion. A tactical switch, which saw skipper Chris Hall redeployed in the midfield, seemed to give the hosts an injection of pace and urgency. A good sustained passage of pressure then followed and Belper suddenly looked a threat. With the hosts able to exploit gaps in the Leeds defence, Belper got their reward as Dixon converted from Belper’s second penalty corner. With tails up, Belper continued to press forward. Three glorious chances came and went as Belper should have grabbed a second goal to set up a grandstand finish. With the hosts pressing forward, Leeds struck the final blow as with men committed forward, Chris Burton in the Belper goal was unable to prevent Martin Sutherland from scoring in the last minute to give the visitors a 4-1 victory.
After the game we spoke to Belper’s Head Coach, Ben Lamb…
“Today was a huge disappointment, we just didn’t compete in the first half. We were lacklustre from the start. They (Leeds) hardly broke sweat. We responded better in the second but left ourselves far too much to do. We had several great opportunities to get a second goal but couldn’t take them. We got what we deserved today. We now go into the break needing to take stock of where we are at. We all need to take a good look at ourselves and evaluate what we could have done better. We’ll bounce back”.