The new season began in earnest at the weekend with a full complement of games for our 10 senior sides. Well that should have been the case but sadly the ladies 4s and ladies 5s opposition from Harrogate and Slazengers were unable to raise teams and cried off late in the day. Whilst the three points for the walkover victory are some consolation, both teams would prefer a competitive game of hockey and they therefore managed to play in the prime time slot of 3pm at Adel in a friendly against each other. Whilst the 4s ran out 6-0 winners, the match was played in good spirits and ensured a healthy crowd for the ladies 1s and mens 1s beforehand.
The ladies 3s did find opposition willing to travel and they opened up the new league season at Adel playing Canalside Terriers in the 10.30 am start. Adel looked good for a victory holding a 2-0 lead going into the final quarter of the game but the Terriers, true to their name fought back with 2 late goals to snatch a point.
The ladies 1s with a new look team took on Lindum 1s at noon and were soon 2-0 down against a strong Lindum side who had moved up from the East leagues a couple of seasons ago after beating our 2s in an end of season play off. Lindum’s coach moved to a defensive formation once the lead was established and perhaps regretted the move with goals from Katie Wood and a well drilled penalty corner strike from Laura Pantelli pulling Adel level midway through the second half. With the game evenly poised, Lindum perhaps moving back to their more attacking formation created several chances on the break and from one of them an Adel foot on the line stopped the ball going in to the unguarded net and they converted the stroke to restore their lead. A few minutes later, skipper April Fowden tipped a deflected penalty corner over the cross bar but had sadly used her hand rather than her stick in doing so. Another stroke, but this time young keeper Stella pulled off a fine save to keep Adel in the game. As they pressed for an equaliser, Lindum took advantage of gaps at the back and scored a fourth goal to take away the 3 points but there was enough promise from the 1s to suggest they will be competitive in this league this season.
The mens 1s have not dropped a league point at home since 19th December 2015 when a 2-1 defeat to Rotherham came a week after a 2-2 draw with Hull University. Since then, the 1s have won 27 consecutive games at home as they secured back to back promotions and see them restored to the North leagues once again. However, there would be no room for any complacency with the fixture schedulers giving the 1s one of the toughest opening games against Sheffield Hallam 2s who had finished 2nd in the league last season and a side who were clearly strengthened by the early return of a number of Hallam Uni students keen to push for a place in their 1st team in the EH national league. Any side that brings a squad of 15, a coach, a manager and a physio clearly takes their hockey seriously!
The quality of hockey on display was probably the best the new astro has seen since it was relaid in 2014. Either side could have taken the lead but in the end it was Sam Harris who opened the scoring for Adel with a drilled shot between the excellent Sheffield keeper’s legs. A few minutes later, Will Purdy sneaked in behind the Sheffield defence to put a first time shot past the keeper and a 2-0 lead suggested that Adel’s continued form at home would be maintained in the new season. But Sheffield had other ideas, perhaps settling down and getting to know each other again and in the next half hour they scored 5 goals without reply, using well judged aerial passes to create many counter attacks often leaving new keeper Matt Cooper exposed at the back. On many occasions he did well to repel the threats but with 15 minutes left it looked like the Adel home record would be broken in the first game of the season.
Sheffield perhaps resting on their laurels and a 3 goal lead, were soon rocked as goals from Simon Ball and then James Moorhouse with a well timed first time undercut shot past the keeper set up a grandstand finish. Pressing for an equaliser was always going to leave gaps at the back and a late Sheffield corner looked like a 6-4 lead to them would kill off the Adel men. However, the goal was overruled, apparently for the ball not leaving the circle and Adel were able to have one last attack in the dying minutes where Moorhouse once again was left with a tight angle on the bye-line but finished expertly to pull off a brilliant finish to a great game for the neutral (not that there were any there). The team head to one of the northernmost outposts next week when they play North Shields but confidence will be high after such an impressive opening game.
The final home game saw the mens 4s take on Tadcaster 1s who had voluntarily dropped down 2 leagues due to a lack of players to compete at the higher level. A 4-2 win for Tadcaster suggests they may have dropped down a league too far….
Away from home there were excellent 1-0 wins for both 2s teams with the ladies playing on the old Olympic pitch at Sheffield and the men travelling to York. Ladies Club Captain, Gabby Nusenbaum and Club Treasurer, Sam Jackson scored the winning goals, rewards perhaps for all their efforts off the pitch over the summer months!
The mens 3s travelled to Bradford and were disappointed to come away without any points as they went down 4-1 with Will Powley, back from his broken hand operation over the summer that limited his hockey, scoring the consolation goal and the mens 5s sadly suffered from the unavailability of too many experienced players and lost 12-3 to a strong Bingley Bees first team but will surely have learnt from the experience.
Finally, a big thank you to Rob Higgins for sorting out the new teas this season – judging by the clean plates, the favourable comments he has set a high standard for the new season so thanks to Rob and the new tea boy Kieran who did an excellent job serving not just 10 hockey teams but a variety of football and lacrosse sides too. The days of playing spoof for who has to wash up the bean pan and deciding who has to get there before a game to try and light the over for the jacket spuds, now seem like a distant memory!