Mens 1st Team v Spalding (Away (L) W 10-2)
Harleston sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops travelled to Spalding on a warm spring day. Harleston welcomed back Mark Flatman after a spell on the sidelines with injury. After an inspirational team talk from player coach Tim Whiteman the team knew that they had to play through their attacking channels and get their flair players on the ball in the name of Tom (David Silva) Ridley and Tim (Kevin De Bruyne) Whiteman.
Spalding pushed back and Harleston quickly won the ball with a good interception from Jonty Gosling released the ball through Elliot Marsh who fed Tom Ridley. The young midfielder quickly accelerated through two challenges before unleashing a fierce reverse stick shot across goal where a Spalding defender turned it into his own net. Harleston continued to win the ball in midfield allowing quick counter attacks at the Spalding defence and within 8 minutes were 3 goals up and the game was out sight. Mark Flatman scored a neat deflection before Matt Bensley smashed home from close range following a good save from the Spalding goalkeeper.
Against the run of play Spalding did pull a goal back when the ball unfortunately found Stuart Leate’s foot in the circle, the resultant corner was dispatched with a low and powerful drag flick. Harleston started to turn the ball over a little too often as they tried to play forward at every opportunity. Despite not stringing many passes together at times there were still patterns of unbelievable hockey. A neat one-two from Elliot Marsh and Thomas Ridley allowed the vice captain to score his second of the afternoon before Mark Flatman grabbed his second.
Harleston were awarded a stroke just before half time when a powerful Tim Whiteman drag flick hit a defenders body on the line. After some confusion in the rules as to whether Matt Bensley was allowed to take the stroke Matt Richardson stepped up with a swagger and dispatched the flick into top left hand corner of the goal leaving the goal keeper handcuffed.
The team went into half time pleased with their efforts and the performance level. Tim Whiteman asked for more composure at times on the ball and to keep scoring goals.
Harleston were very composed in the second half, keeping the ball for long periods of play and deciding when to hit Spalding on the counter attack. Many good patterns starting from Tom Sumner and Leigh Sitch in a new centre back pairing.
Mark Flatman quickly completed his hat-trick from a close range deflection. Leigh Sitch then got on the score sheet from open play (a rarity) with what the umpire described as goal of the season. The dynamic centre back started off the move by carrying out from centre back he eliminated two players before feeding the ball back to Tom Sumner. As the ball was transferred across the back and up the right through Matt Richardson and Thomas Ridley the athletic centre back carried on his run leaving Spalding players in his wake. The ball eventually found Richard Larkin on the right just outside of the circle and looking up, with delight, he saw Sitch arrive. The ball was played across and Sitch had to use all of his attacking flair to deflect the ball skillfully into the roof of the net off his back foot. A loud cheer from the majority of the team showed the significance of the vital 8th goal.
Harleston continue to press forward and soon added their 9th and 10th goal. Firstly Thomas Ridley completed his hat-trick with a reverse stick thunderbolt before Tim Whiteman found space in the circle to slot home. There was still time left for Spalding to grab their second goal. Stuart Leate slotted in at centre back as Leigh Sitch and Tom Sumner were rested for the final few minutes. After a Spalding counter attack Leate was adjust to have brought down the attacked as he raced through on goal. Spalding dispatched the stroke to make the final score 10-2.
Harleston have a week off next week before travelling to Blueharts were they will look to replicate their best performance of the season.