This week we have match reports from the M1, M3, L3 and M4.

LTHC Men’s 1st XI 0 vs University of Birmingham 2nd XI 0

England Hockey League Conference Midlands

Loughborough Town Men’s 1s this week travelled the short distance over to the West Midlands to play University of Birmingham 2s.

The game started as it meant to go on with lots of frantic hockey, flowing from end to end. Both sides had their chances with Loughborough having the better open play ones and Birmingham getting a few good penalty corners off, only to have Toby Jackson standing strong.

As the game went on the major chances presented themselves. Birmingham gained a penalty stroke from a goal line save from Jim Sheppard which had gone onto his own body. Again Jackson stood strong saving the poor stroke attempt.

Loughborough then converted their well worked high press and pressure into their own penalty stroke of their own. Town’s leading scorer Ryan Day stood up and followed suit with a weak stroke, saved by the home keeper.

Amongst all of this were copious amounts of cards from rash challenges and deliberate feet from both sides. In the end the game ended in a stalemate in the score line at 0-0, despite the frantic flowing hockey.

LTHC Men’s 3rd XI 4 vs Nuneaton 1st XI 2

Midlands Men’s Division 5 East

With a key three points on the table Loughborough Town men’s 3s travelled to play Nuneaton 1s looking to take all three.  The game started well with Town winning the coin toss again, though they had a shaky start as they got used to the slower sandy pitch than they were used too.  However, they manged to get in front with a well worked goal from Josh Sheffield.  The rest of the half was a back and forth with both sides giving up opportunities.  Town hoping to go into the half with a 1-0 lead was short lived when in the last minute of the half Nuneaton were awarded a penalty corner.  The home side taking there opportunity well, levelling the scores as the half time whistle blew moments after the ball crossed the line.

Town knew they could play better hockey and did so in the second half, as they passed the ball around and upped the intensity to take a 4-1 lead with goals from Sam Horsman, Matthew Younger plus Sheffield added a second to his tally.  Nuneaton did halve the lead as a well worked goal finished the scoring off at 4-2 to the away side.

That much needed win was Town’s second of the season, though a tougher challenge awaits them next week as they play Leicester 1s at home. POM: Alex Ricoux.

LTHC Ladies’ 3rd XI 2 vs Market Harborough 2nd XI 0

Midlands Women’s Division 4 Nene / Charnwood

After the long journey to Towcester last week, Loughborough Town Ladies’ 3s were back playing at home and ready to take on Market Harborough Ladies’ 2s.

Town got off to a strong attacking start, which put Harborough on the defensive, however they certainly rose to the challenge and protected their D well. It did not take too long though before Town were awarded their first penalty corner. Unable to convert this attempt, they were not to be phased, and within a short time, a further two more followed. It was during one of these corners that Town opened the scoring. Although the initial attempt was saved, the follow-up scramble resulted in Town’s first goal, as Sam Dalby swooped on the ball to slip it past the keeper’s open side. Harborough, through some fantastic clearances, which beat Town’s press, saw them win a couple of their own penalty corners, all of which were saved by the solid Town defence. Half time arrived with Town holding their 1-0 lead.

As the second half started, Town again turned up the pressure to ensure that they came away with all three points. Again, the defence held strong against any attempts by Harborough to score, and this allowed the attack to remain slightly higher up the pitch. It was this tactic which led to the second goal. An attack down the wing saw the ball enter Harborough’s D where an initial save led to Shannon Nel being in the right place to slot it home for Town’s second.

As the final whistle blew, Town reflected on an extremely positive performance and a well-deserved three points. They are hoping to carry this forward into next week’s game as they are again on the road to Daventry to face Earls Barton. Player of the match went to Abigail Archer for her amazing performance protecting the D and driving the line.

LTHC Men’s 4th XI 5 vs Coalville 2nd XI 1

Midlands Men’s Division 6 South East

Loughborough Town 4s took the short trip over to Coalville in search of their first points of the season, and acutely aware that they were in danger of getting cut adrift at the foot of their league.

Town have started each of their games positively this season and this week was no exception. Once again, they were quickly into their flow and pushed the opposition back into their own half creating chances but failing to find the break through.

Despite Town’s dominance it was Coalville who opened the scoring when they capitalised on Town’s failure to clear their lines. Staying calm and undeterred by the setback, Town restarted the game and were quickly back on terms when Shaylan Chauhan was able to score from a tight angle following some trickery inside the D.

This Town team have no shortage of talent & ability, and buoyed by the confidence of a goal they laid siege to the Coalville goal, which began to live something of a charmed life. Town’s efforts were then rewarded when Tan Bainsal finished from close range to grab his first goal for the club. With the score at just 2-1 to Town, Coalville weren’t out of this game and still carried a threat, but Town Keeper Tom Abbott wasn’t prepared to concede for a second time. A deflected shot from the edge of his D was arrowing into the top right-hand corner of his goal, he instinctively threw out his gloved stick-hand to tip the ball high and wide of his goal.

Town needed a third goal to give them the comfort of clear daylight between them and Coalville, they once again upped their work rate creating more openings and forcing saves from the Coalville keeper.

Man of the Match, Luca Hargreaves had been terrorising the opposition defence throughout the half with his powerful ball carrying, but Coalville failed to heed the earlier warnings. Allowing him enough space on the edge of their D to unleash an unstoppable trademark reverse stick strike. The Coalville keeper didn’t even react as the ball rocketed past him into his goal, so to cheers from the small group of travelling supporters Town ended the first half with the comfort of a 3-1 lead.

The second half started and Coalville threw everything they had at Loughborough in an attempt to rescue the game.  Town absorbed the pressure and even when they were temporarily reduced to ten as a result of a green card their defence remained mostly untroubled.  It was as if Town were toying with their prey, allowing them to use up the remains of their energy in the false hope of getting back into the game.

So, as Coalville tired, Town upped their own game once more, rapid attacks starting from central defender Leon Foster-Pollard, moving through the half line and into the forwards left Coalville’s formation scattered around the pitch, and Chauhan was the first to benefit from the space, recording his second and Town’s forth with a well struck shot which beat the Coalville keeper, albeit from a slight deflection. Then to finish off the game, making it a fine 5-1 win, Bainsal pounced on a loose ball in the D and slotted the ball home past a deflated Coalville keeper.

As the final whistle sounded, Town’s players rightly celebrated the victory as a team, fully deserving the three points which moves them off the bottom of the table.  Town outplayed Coalville throughout this match but face league leaders Northampton Saints 3s next, that match is certainly going to be a massive test for Town.

Categories: Match Reports