STAFFORD Hockey Club firsts (men) fell to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of last year’s league champions Market Drayton despite a second half fight back at Keele University this week.
Stafford were hopeful of upsetting the odds against the Shropshire team but were unable to exert any pressure in the early stages of this warm up game.
Drayton, who are one league above Stafford, gradually increased the pressure on their opponents circle and eventually won a penalty corner.
Brad Evans in the Stafford goal saved the first shot well but was unable to clear, another corner was awarded and this time the drag flick seemed to go through Evans and Drayton took the lead.
Stafford were then guilty of switching off as Drayton’s sweeper pushed forward and was given the ball on the edge of the circle, his shot was well executed to double the Drayton lead to 2-0.
A few tactical switches saw Stafford eventually create some chances, wing back Andy Barnett got the ball in a good
position and looked like he would score but he somehow managed to miss from a few feet out.
In the second half, Stafford played much better and soon pulled a goal back when Andy Peatfield used his pace to beat his man. Randall Moore then rounded the keeper and laid the ball off to Dan Howe who slotted it home from a narrow anGLE.
Stafford then pulled another back when Steve Marsh's shot was saved illegally on the line and Ben Cantrill flicked the penalty home for his third goal in as many games to level the match at 2-2.
Unfortunately, Drayton got the winning goal after a slick penalty corner routine gave Evans no hope to earn Market Drayton victory.
Evans was deservedly awarded man of the match for a string of excellent saves and this Saturday Stafford HC firsts are away against Wednesbury HC.
Stafford open their West Midlands One fixtures at Solihull Blossomfield on October 5, before having an early free week on October 12. First home fixture
for Stafford is against Bloxwich on October 26.
On the Stafford Netball League scene, Sapphires ran out convincing 34-10 winners over Spittal Brook in division one.
Sapphires were always in control and their player of the match was Emily Jackson. Best for the Brook was Lucy Berry.
In a closely fought fixture, Bluebelles pulled away in the closing stages to defeat Saints A 25-19, while Michelle Kelly led Stafford Ladies to a fine 40-24 win over Touchstone.
On the second division front, Fusion edged another close affair against Saints, running out 24-19 victors. Player awards went to Kirsty Bailey (Fusion) and Becky Gingell (Saints).
It was a different story as FMS ran out emphatic 50-8 winners over a Deevas team that only fielded six players. Lisa Purshouse (C) was the star for FMS.
The final fixture of the week saw Bluebelles B emerge narrow 39-37 victors against All Stars.