This week we have match reports from the M2, M3, L3, M4 and L4.

LTHC Men’s 2nd XI 2 vs University of Birmingham 3rd XI 2

Midlands Men’s Division 2

Loughborough Town Men’s 2s headed into the game in third place against an in-form Birmingham University team in second. The day started with a riveting team talk from captain Matt Parry. After a ten-minute warm up the game began.

Birmingham had a strong first fifteen minutes with a lot of possession. Town struggled to get out of their own half because of a very strong high press from the away but defensively Town stayed strong.

As the first half went on, the game opened up significantly with a few chances from both sides, although they came to nothing. A nice block on the line by Iwan Marshall saved a clear goal scoring opportunity before a few good penalty corner saves from Vishal Dhutia kept the game at 0-0 for half time.

The second half began with another high press from Birmingham putting pressure on Town’s defence. The home side struggled to get the ball out of the back and absorbed a lot of pressure from the Birmingham attack but they could not convert the chances.

Cian Morgan made a brilliant save off the line from a penalty corner to keep the score level. As the game progressed, the pitch opened up a lot more. Birmingham won a penalty corner about half way through the second half. A good flick to the bottom right corner made the game 1-0 to the away side.

And now the magic begins. Marshall won the ball on Town’s twenty-three with nobody to pass to ahead other than five Birmingham defenders. He charged up the pitch at speed with four defenders trying to tackle him. He reached the half way line and then the opposition 23 before being fouled. Quick thinking from captain Parry led to him taking a quick free hit, before firing a pin point ball it in to Joe Coggins who scored a good deflection at the back post. 1-1.

Birmingham reset and pushed forward looking for that second goal. With six minutes to go it came, as a mistake at the back from Town set the away side up perfectly to score their second. 2-1.

The pressure was now on for town.

The decision was made to go for broke and with four strikers, Town pushed forward with force. Town managed to make space for Nathan Warwick on the left wing who delivered a peach of a ball to Tom Clarkson who was fouled in the D. Corner time for Ryan Hatley! A good injection from Adam Lamb to Parry stopping and then a lethal flick from Hatley into the bottom left corner. 2-2 with two minutes to go!

Town held out to get a very good draw against a strong Birmingham University side.

LTHC Men’s 3rd XI 4 vs Panthers (Leicester) 1st XI 1st XI 0

Midlands Men’s Division 5 East

Loughborough Town Men’s 3s made it two wins (and two clean sheets) on the bounce as they beat Panthers (Leicester) in their last game before the mid-season break.

Coming into the game with only twelve players and playing a side in the top half of the table, Town knew it was going to be a hard match. However, Town started the better of the two sides taking the early lead through Nathan Holifield’s breakaway. Using his pace, a through ball cut through the Panthers defence putting him through one on one with the keeper. After rounding the keeper, he finished well from a tight angle, for his team leading fourth goal of the season.

Panthers then got into the game as they won a flurry of penalty corners, which continued throughout the first half, though Town defended them all well. In open play the home side also generated chances though nothing coming close. 

Town also had chances as they worked the ball around well with some great passing and movement, as well as some breakaways. Before half-time the away side doubled their lead as Sam Horsman got his first of the day through a penalty corner shot from the top of the D.

Going into half-time 2-0 up, Town knew that they still needed to play another thirty-five minutes of good hockey, something they’d not managed to do all season.

The second half continued much the same as the first, Town with good possession leading to breakaways and Panthers getting their fair share of penalty corners, though none going into Town’s goal. Town scored two more goals in the second half, one by Tom Haworth-Edwards and another penalty corner by Horsman, to take the lead to 4-0.

Town did have to play the last ten minutes of the game with ten players due to a yellow card, though they held on for the win. A great result for Town, even though they rode their luck at times with all the penalty corners conceded. That leaves them mid table as they go into the mid-season break.

POM: David Ottewell

LTHC Ladies’ 3rd XI 2 vs Northampton Saints 3rd XI 0

Midlands Women’s Division 4 Nene / Charnwood

As the first half of the season drew to a close, Loughborough Town ladies’ 3s travelled down the motorway again, this time to 4th in the table Northampton Saints 3s. Town coming off of a two-game winning streak were hoping to make it three in a row.

After winning the toss, Town opted for the push back and they made it clear that league position meant nothing, as they attacked Northampton’s D from the start. However, the home team defended well and had a number of attacking plays as well. It took ten minutes for the deadlock to be broken when Town picked the ball up in midfield with Fran Bucher who passed the ball to Emily Quinn who beautifully dropped the ball to Emily Jones who was wide open on the penalty spot. She struck it cleanly and beat the keeper on the left side. 1-0 to the visitors. Towns’ second goal came about ten minutes later when again some fantastic linking play in midfield enabled Connie Rutherford to once again beat the keeper this time at close range. The half time score was 2-0 to Town.

As the second half started Northampton certainly started the stronger team, winning a handful of penalty corners, all of which Town heroically cleared. In part with saves from keeper Kate Horrigan and strong defensive play from Iris Broekhijzen, Kate Bowyer, Izzy Perry, Tara Vincent and Annabel Page.

Town had a few more chances, one came from a pass to Sam Dalby who managed to connect with the ball, however the Northampton keeper also managed a touch the ball to send it wide. Emily Quinn also made a skilful pass across the D but unfortunately it was not met by a Town player. Not to take anything away from Northampton, who maintained pressure throughout the second half but were held to a 2-0 defeat by the visitors at the final whistle. The second half also saw three green cards, simultaneous ones for both teams and a further one for Town.

With the first half of the season now completed Town will be looking to start the new year as they finished 2021.

LTHC Men’s 4th XI 2 vs Melton 2nd XI 3

Midlands Men’s Division 6 South East

Town started brightly and were quickly into their stride, applying intense pressure on an experienced Melton team which had claimed all but one of their league wins when playing at home. Melton were struggling to work the ball out of their own half and Town’s dominant press was so high that three of their back four were stationed inside the Melton half for most of the opening twenty-minutes, and they were dealing well with the Melton clearances that were aimed at their lone striker.

Melton’s keeper was working hard, yet after a string of Town penalty corners he remained unbeaten and Melton then began to fashion some attacks of their own, one of these attacks resulted in quite a bizarre spectacle. A Melton pass into the D evaded everyone and rolled into the Town goal, celebrations from some Melton players pre-empted the signal of a goal by the umpire, and that in turn was met with total disbelief from Town’s players, substitutes, supporters and coach. The goal was initially given by the umpire though after both umpires conferred the goal was not allowed to stand (due to no Melton player touching the ball in the D) and Melton were given a long corner.

Melton had gained a little confidence from the confusion and started to assert some pressure of their own, but as Town regained possession of the ball deep inside their own half, left back Luca Hargreaves spotted an opportunity, and unleashed a massive aerial for striker Tan Bainsal to chase down. The deepest of Melton’s defenders frantically back pedalled and vainly flailed his stick at the ball which was flying high over his head. As Bainsal sprinted past the floundering defender, he first brushed off the defender’s cynical attempts to bring him to ground, and then opened the scoring by coolly slotting the ball under the advancing keeper.

After the restart Town’s second goal quickly followed. With Melton being dispossessed in midfield, a quick exchange of passes found Tom Clark who weaved his way into the D and flicked a shot at goal which a Melton defender could only deflect into his own net.

The restart was immediately followed by the umpire’s two-minute time signal and the half seemed destined to be ending at 2-0, but as the clock slowed Melton fashioned a final attack which ultimately led to the award of a penalty corner as time for the half expired. Melton took this chance and converted the penalty corner, with Town going in at half-time 2-1 up.

Town did not start the second half well, as they began needlessly squandering possession, and Melton started to create chances and with a certain inevitability Town conceded twice to find themselves 3-2 down.

With ten minutes remaining Town pressed forward in an all-out attempt to level the game, but the needed a spark, a little slice of luck that just seemed to evade them and they were ultimately unable to breach the Melton defences again. The final whistle blew promptly and announced yet another defeat for Town 4’s, who go into the Christmas break having lost nine and won one of their ten league games.

This game had followed the same worrying pattern of many of their previous, that of Town dominating large portions of the game, playing some tremendous hockey, yet ultimately coming away with nothing.

LTHC Ladies’ 4th XI 3 vs Nuneaton 3rd XI 4

Midlands Women’s Division 5a Nene / Charnwood

It was Loughborough Town Ladies’ 4s final match before Christmas, taking on Nuneaton 3s. Despite the rain and the cold, the team was confident and ready to have a great game of hockey.

Right from the whistle Town started strongly, putting a lot of pressure on the visiting team. A quick early goal from town by Zoe Stead, after beautiful passing in the forward line, with Stead able to pick the ball from a rebound from the keeper and slipping it into the net. Town found themselves defending several attacks by the visiting team and the lead was short lived as Nuneaton ended up scoring three goals. Leaving the score 3-1 at half time.

After a positive and motivating team talk at half time, Town was ready to continue their excellent play. In the early minutes of the second half through amazing passing between the Town team, Anneliese Harrisand Stead scored two more fantastic goals for the home side.

Town continued to put more pressure with nice quick, accurate passes and good defending but they unable to convert one more. Unfortunately, after a confusion of whether the ball hit a Nuneaton foot, one of the Nuneaton attackers got away from the Town defence and had a one on one with keeper, Fionnhuala Davies, converting one more for the away team. The final score was 4-3, however, Town played an amazing game of hockey, with slick passes and one-twos between players.

Categories: Match Reports