After many weeks of tense battles, last night saw the top four teams contest the mixed summer league semi finals at Adel. Adel had managed to get two teams to the semis (largely by virtue of entering 4 different teams at the outset) and both Harrogate and Ben Rhydding would offer strong opposition based on the previous games against the various Adel teams.
Adel Whites led by Phil Bayford and Anna Blyth put up a brave fight against a strong Harrogate team who went through the whole campaign unbeaten. The Whites came out the blocks sharply, perhaps catching Harrogate half asleep as they recovered from the excesses of theic centenary celebrations and tour de France partying and Will Powley scored a penalty stroke with Adel doubling their lead shortly after. However, Harrogate were keen to defend the trophy they have won for the last 2 years and as the game went on, the Harrogate team began to take control and with strength throughout the whole team they ran out worthy 7-5 winners.
Adel Oranges in the other semi final took on a young Ben Rhydding side with only one of their players over the age of 18. However, all their men have had first team experience this season so they could not be underestimated, especially with the return of their goal scoring threat Josh Sykes.
The Oranges had a great first half with Jo Murphy setting up goals for Laura Robinson and Robin Lindsay and a 2-0 half time lead gave Adel some hope that they could make the final. However, the second half saw Rhydding’s men start to dominate the game and they had the pace and ability to carry the ball out of defence and into attack time after time with the pressure eventually paying off with five second half goals. The ageing legs of Sam Ransley (sporting an orange bandana to hold back his flowing locks), Ben Hendley and Rich Partner tried valiantly to compete with the younger legs from Rhydding but with slightly longer games in the semis this played into Rhyddings hands. Presty continued her excellent summer league form with some great saves and Hannah Jones broke down several Rhydding attacks with her strong tackling. Cooky’s younger legs gave the Oranges some late hope as her persevered to press forward and Laura Summers worked tirelessly to stop the Rhydding waves of attack. It was left to Ben Hendley to show his class with the best goal of the night to pull one back for the Oranges but a final 5-3 score saw Rhydding go to the final and the Oranges left to play for the 3rd place against Adel Whites.
In the all Adel bronze medal clash, the Whites played without a keeper and looked vulnerable as a result with Powley and Portnell taking turns to play kicking back. However, the Oranges failed to capitalise on the lack of a keeper and the Whites defence made several late clearances which they converted into attacks and Irish Dave bagged a brace of goals before the interval to give the Whites a 2-0 lead. Cooky pulled one back for the Oranges and in the second half Robin Lindsay and another Cooky goal set up the prospect of an exciting finish and possible penalty stroke shoot out.
However, Tina Parsons had other ideas and her tow late goals gave the spoils to the Whites – the final whistel cruelly denied her of a hat trick.
In the final, the tables were turned on Rhydding who squandered a 3-1 half time lead thanks to a great fightback from defending champions Harrogate. Harrogate showed how to play mixed hockey and moved the ball early, used their ladies to full effect and as a result scored 4 second half goals to highlight the importance of team play over individual running. The silverware in their centenary year was a fitting reward for their overall season and congratulations go to skipper Tommo and all the Harrogate team who also played in the spirit of summer league hockey with fun and respect central to their success.