Leadenham Hockey Club First XI missed a chance to move up the league with a surprise defeat to bottom side Bourne Deeping.
After the previous week’s good result, complacency crept in and Leadenham were quickly caught off guard by battling opponents.
Two impressive first-half drag-flicks from penalty corners opened the scoring for Bourne who continued to dominate the midfield in the first half.
Leadenham then suffered a serious blow as stalwart defender Tom Cade was forced off with a knee injury.
But as the first half drew to a close, captain Nathan Chambers launched a counter-attack which Conor Wright chased down before he was fouled in the D.
Sam MacAllister duly converted the penalty corner.
Bourne came back with renewed vigour after half-time and scored from another set-piece move, slicing open the defence before Neil Baldwin conceded another unfortunate own goal.
They extended their lead further after ‘keeper Thomas Pinchbeck came sliding out to a loose ball, but was deemed to have also taken out the attacker.
The umpires reviewed the incident and agreed Pinchbeck missed the ball entirely and a penalty stroke was awarded, which Bourne put away to go 4-1 up.
A flurry of late Leadenham attacks earned a consolation goal, with MacAllister scoring his second, and a few further chances were created, but not put away.
Firsts: T. Pinchbeck, N. Baldwin, T. Cade, N. Chambers (c), J. Porter, F. Mack, D. Nelstrop, B. Huggins, T. Corbett, S. MacAllister, M. Ortyl, C. Cade, C. Wright, M. Beavers.
* Leadenham men’s Second XI travelled to City of Peterborough Eighth XI for an early pushback aiming to further their promotion ambitions.
A shaky start saw Leadenham struggle defensively to cope with Peterborough’s attacks as the team conceded possession too easily.
The first half ended 1-1, with Steve Gretton scoring an audacious reverse-stick lob, leaving the ‘keeper stranded in no-man’s land.
After captain Sam Darling gave the team ‘the hairdryer treatment’, Leadenham upped their game in the second half and proceeded to play with the selflessness and teamwork which has proved so effective this season.
With improved passing, phases of play the goals started to come, with father and son James and Neil Ireland both finding the net, before Darling capped a 4-1 win with a slapped finish from the top of the D.
Seconds: S. Chambers, J. Simpson, S. Darling (C), D. Case, P. Case, S. Gretton, I. Gray, N. Playford, E. Groves, F. Naylor, J. Ireland, N. Ireland, T. Adams, I. Sanderson.
* Following two successive drubbings, Leadenham Thirds got back to winning ways with a laboured, but deserved 2-1 win against Spalding.
On a cold afternoon, after some doubt the game would be on, Leadenham played some sublime hockey for the first 20 minutes.
Short passes and good off the ball movement meant Spalding hardly got a touch on the ball, but once again the ball just wouldn’t go in the net, despite peppering the goal with shot after shot.
Eventually the pressure told, and veteran striker Gaz Kinton ended his goal drought with a superbly-taken effort, turning in the D and placing the ball in the bottom corner.
Half-time arrested the momentum, but the team talk was positive, but Spalding had other ideas.
They came out for the second half with renewed vigour and purpose, while Leadenham went to sleep.
Sloppy defending, coupled with a well-worked attack and a great strike made it 1-1 and all to play for.
Further Spalding pressure led to a series of short corners, their first of the game, but Leadenham were resilient and kept them at bay.
The game became an ill-tempered arm wrestle with the Thirds slowly regaining dominance, but with time running out.
Finally the pressure told and another excellent Kinton effort restored the lead with five minutes left.
A bittersweet result for Leadenham who came away with a well-deserved win, but knowing they should have scored many more.
Man-of-the-match went to Mark Pearce for a super defensive display of commitment and timely interceptions.
Next up is a big home game against Horncastle.
Thirds: S. Corbett, A. Cade, S. Brown, N. Mountain, O. Philips, O. Down, O. Robertson, M. Pearce, M. Wrigley, G. Kirton, J. Kay, J. Pearson, P. Swinburn, S. Mountain.