Received Match Reports:
v Whitley Bay & Tynemouth 1XI
It was a tough opening fixture for 2020 for the 2XI as they welcomed Whitley Bay to Weetwood, who had comprehensively beaten Leeds 4-2 in the reverse fixture with a high pressing, high energy performance. Leeds knew they would have to be at their best to get anything from this one.
It became clear before the game that Whitley Bay had only travelled with 12 players, so Leeds knew that if they could move the ball quickly and stretch the pitch, openings would come. Whitley Bay’s defensive game plan was undone quickly as Leeds took an early 1 goal lead. In his penultimate game for the club, Ben Baxter won the ball off a defender in the D and ignored the opposition cries for a foul to slot it home.
A second goal quickly followed with a combined age of 72 years, Mawer (29) flicked low from a short corner which was deflected home by Dean Edwards (43 & ¾). Leeds continued to dominate possession as Whitley Bay struggled to react to the impressive start by the hosts, but a defensive lapse meant Whitley Bay were able to get back into the game. A quick counter attack was initially broken down well but the Northerners regained the ball and after a clear lift into Alex Muir’s thigh was missed by the umpires, the ball was fired across the goal and the chance converted by Simon Miles through the Leeds keepers legs for 2-1.
It was a blow for Leeds and they knew that the ten minutes before half time would be crucial to ensure they remained in control against a resurgent opposition. Leeds were able to force several short corners which saw a Harkins flick well saved by the keeper, and the Aussie double act Matt C and Ben B totally forget what the names of our routines were meaning a dangerous routine went flying off the back line as they both ran to the wrong post. Leeds were able to calm the nerves just before half time as another corner was won and a low flick from Carney found the corner.
The second half started in the same manner with Leeds controlling the game but Whitley Bay showing signs of menace on the counter, but after around ten minutes the opposition stepped up their intensity and press and took the game to Leeds. For a 15 minute spell Leeds were under heavy pressure. A deliberate foot inside the 23 saw Muir receive a green card and a short corner upgrade for Whitley Bay. A few minutes later, another short corner gave WBTHC top scorer Poots an opportunity which he gladly took to make it 3-2. Leeds knew they had caused their own problems and were in a real fight.
The high pressure put on by the visitors was beginning to tell as they visibly tired and Leeds did well to ride out the storm. With around 12 minutes left to play they made the game more or less safe. A good counter attack down the right was pulled back across the D were Greg was able to cooly flick beyond the keeper from 10 yards out.
For the final minutes of the game Leeds showed a maturity that their game lacked in the early part of the season, holding onto the ball brilliantly and taking any remaining sting out of the game to ensure they picked up a valuable three points.
POTM: Greg Cooke.
v Lindum 1XI
There is no better way to ease yourself back into hockey after the Christmas break than a double header, including an away trip to Lincoln on a Sunday afternoon. More shock results on Saturday in what is a very unpredictable league had presented Leeds with the opportunity to go second in the table with a win. They had the luxury of being able to bring Buxton and Creemers into the squad for fresh legs, and travelled with a full squad of 16.
The day started badly with ex polytechnic student Muir proving incapable of working a sat nav, leaving the team captain sitting on the side of the A64 waiting for a lift. Rumours are circulating that it was a planned move. Luckily Deano used all his experience in interactive map reading and was able to come to the rescue.
The encounter was a physical one, with several experienced players in the spine of the Lindum team who were more focussed on assaulting the Leeds players off the ball than actually doing anything with it. A reasonably large home crowd also did their bit to intimidate the umpires into not sending anyone off.
Initially Leeds did well to rise above the opponent’s clear plan to disrupt. The game had a distinctively Sunday feel to it for the first half with both teams carrying heavy legs. Leeds held a lot of possession around the back under little pressure but struggled to make any significant inroads early on. The first chances fell the way of breakaways from Lindum and Leeds were indebted to the quick reflexes of Jack Hobbs in goal on a number of occasions, keeping the game at 0-0.
Leeds began to grow into the game and get behind the Lindum defence, eventually winning a short corner. The deadly combination of Mawer and Edwards struck again to make it 1-0. This gave Leeds the confidence to control the game and all of a sudden they looked far more threatening. Creemers rounded the keeper well before mistiming a reverse stick shot at goal, and shortly after great movement again from Creemers put him clean through on goal but unfortunately a combination of good goalkeeping and last ditch tracking back meant he was dispossessed before he had a chance to shoot.
Leeds soon got their reward and went 2-0 up, albeit in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. They were holding good possession in the right hand corner and the ball was played into Josh Bell who whipped a dangerous ball into the D. It looked to be going into the sideboard and the keeper left it, only for the ball to ricochet onto the post behind the keeper before falling perfectly onto the stick of Edwards, about a yard out, who reacted quickest to poke the ball home.
There was one further chance for Leeds before the break as Lewis used his electric pace to go round the side of the far larger Lindum FB in the D, however the umpire was happy to for the Lindum defender to shoulder charge Lewis off the end of the pitch despite making no attempt to win the ball. It was indicative of how the first half had played out.
The game changed dramatically in the second half and Leeds squandered all control. Lindum pushed high up the pitch and denied any escape for Leeds. The Leeds midfield were tiring and the defence struggling to distribute effectively, the problems exacerbated with a silly card for Leeds for an act of petulance. The problems were summed up for Leeds as Mawer attempted to clear the ball from his defensive corner, only to see his aerial almost go into orbit before dropping down on the top of his own D!
Lindum continued to pepper the Leeds goal but once again Hobbs stood tall, keeping out chance after chance to bail out his teammates. Lindum made the game tough with 15/20 minutes to go as they converted from a disputed short corner and it took a monumental defensive effort from Leeds to retain their lead to the end of the game.
Leeds weren’t without chances themselves on the break, with the selfless running of Harkins, Greg and Lewis providing valuable outlets to relieve the pressure, but it was without any further reward. As the game entered the final minutes, Leeds were reminded of playing here two years ago where a ‘ghost goal’ with the last touch of the game had ultimately denied Leeds promotion.
After further incredible saves by Hobbs in the Leeds goal, it looked like it could happen again. Lindum forced a short corner in the final minute of the game, the initial flick was saved and with the opposition centre forward again up to his usual tricks of holding the defenders stick so they couldn’t defend, nobody was able to close down the rebound. Hobbs was eventually beaten but Billy Rudolph saw the danger and deflected the goal bound shot off the line, with several Lindum players already celebrating!
Leeds held on to secure a return of 6 points from the weekend and move into 2nd place. A scrappy and largely unenjoyable game but the win puts Leeds in a good position going into next weeks away derby at Ben Rhydding.
As the Leeds players trudged off the pitch, many walking wounded, the wise words of coach Golding rang true; “Pain is temporary, glory lasts forever.”
POTM: Jack Hobbs (with a clean sweep of votes).
Special mention: Thanks to Ben Baxter who played his last game for LHC before going back to Australia. Thanks Ben for your contribution this season, you’re always welcome back!
Leeds 8XI came into the game hoping to keep their good form from before Christmas and to get a win over one of their promotion rivals. Both teams started brightly having chances but unable to convert. Scarborough took the lead as through a penalty stroke as a strike from a penalty corner was blocked on the line by a Leeds foot. Leeds responded positively by getting a quick equaliser off a counter attack with Ewan Clark scoring the first 8XI goal of 2020. Both teams pressed to see who could take the lead and unfortunately it was Scarborough as a defensive error from Leeds led to a Scarborough attacker converting a counter attack to make it 2-1 which was how the half ended.
Both teams went into the second half knowing the next goal scored would be key to the outcome of the match. Scarborough were the team to score first as they got their third goal at the beginning of the second half from another Leeds defensive error.
Leeds were able to pull a goal back from a penalty corner scored by Oli Graham. Leeds continued to press to try and get an equaliser but their efforts were left unrewarded as the game ended in 3-2 to Scarborough.
POTM - Tom Matthews
Captain Chris Devine commented after the game: "It was a disappointing result, I didn't feel the result reflected how we played and the team effort we put in. Our juniors had their best games of the season which is a really encouraging sign."