Image: James Riley keeping goal for Alderley Edge
Match reports by Matt Hobbs
Men’s Northern Premier Hockey League
Alderley Edge 1s vs Oxton 1s
The Men’s 1s travelled to Oxton for the second game of the season.
As in the previous week, Alderley Edge started the game well, putting Oxton under pressure and regularly turning the ball over.
This led to Alderley Edge having the majority of possession and finding themselves in the Oxton ‘D’ on numerous occasions.
However, Alderley Edge were again unable to convert this hard work into penalty corners, or clear cut chances and upon Oxton’s first entry into the Alderley ‘D’, they won a penalty corner which they finished well into the roof of the net.
After the goal Alderley Edge continued to push forward, playing some excellent passing hockey in the middle of the pitch and creating chances, but they were unable to get the goal they deserved.
Just before half time, and against the run of play, Oxton found themselves with a four-on-two in the ‘D’ and were able to easily convert the chance to go 2-0 up.
The second half continued much like the first, with Alderley playing the better hockey of the two teams, only this time some lightning fast skills by Callum Middleton created space in the ‘D’ for him to rifle his shot past the keeper into the top corner. 2-1.
This sparked a reaction from Oxton, and they started to create more chances, forcing a string of fantastic saves by James Riley in the Alderley Edge goal.
Eventually Alderley Edge’s defence broke and Oxton scored two goals in quick succession.
In the final few minutes Alderley Edge scored again, when after a string of shots Jack Smith eventually put the ball in the goal.
Next week, Lindum at home where more quality will be needed at both ends of the pitch to pick up the win and three points.
Women’s Northern Conference National Hockey League
Alderley Edge 1s vs Loughborough University Students’ 2s
The Ladies’ 1s travelled down a wet, long road down to Loughborough where they were to take on one of the strongest sides in the league, Loughborough University Students’ 2s.
Nerves started showing in the warm up, but after the captain and coach’s final words before the whistle, Alderley Edge were ready to go.
Alderley Edge started the game well, passing the ball with confidence and defending their ‘D’ comfortably.
It was unfortunate, then, that towards the end of the first quarter Alderley Edge found themselves one down when Loughborough managed to find some space after breaking a tackle and shooting low into the goal.
Alderley Edge kept their heads up and played some great hockey, resulting in a number of penalty corner attacks.
Although these were executed well, Alderley Edge could not find the back of the goal.
Frustrated at not scoring the goals the hard work had warranted, Alderley Edge found out just how clinical teams can be at this level when a couple of small mistakes were punished by the efficient Loughborough team.
Alderley Edge went in at half time 0-3 down.
In the second half Loughborough were relentless in their pursuit of the ball when in Alderley Edge possession, making it difficult for Alderley Edge to connect in the key areas of the pitch and leaving their midfielders very isolated and constantly under pressure.
Alderley Edge didn’t throw the towel in and continued to drive play towards the Loughborough goal when the opportunities arose, with the likes of Ella Partington and Saskia Swatland trying everything to find gaps in what was a very tight and well organised Loughborough defence.
At the other end of the pitch, Alderley Edges man of the match goalkeeper Grace Hardy was thwarting everything Loughborough sent at her, repeatedly putting her body on the line to ensure the score remained 0-3.
Entering the final quarter, Alderley Edge decided to change their tactics to try and break down the Loughborough defence.
This led to a number of Alderley Edge attacks down the right hand side of the pitch with a higher number of supporting players joining the attacks.
Unfortunately this brave change didn’t get Alderley Edge on the score sheet and, with more space for Loughborough to operate in, the final score finished 0-5.
Loughborough were the better team, but the Alderley Edge players showed the attitude which will serve them well through the season and ensure that the results will turn around.
Next week Alderley Edge are back on home turf and should look forward to welcoming Wakefield to the cauldron of ‘The Edge’!