STAFFORD Hockey first team got their pre-season off to a positive start with a draw in a ten goal thriller against North Stafford Hockey seconds team.
Stafford who are now sponsored by Greyfriars Commercial Catering Installations, started well creating some great early opportunities, unfortunately they were unable to get any meaningful shots on target, Andy Peatfield and Dan Rennie coming closest.
North Stafford who had included a number of first team players in their side then scored a goal against the run of play.
A quick break saw keeper Brad Evans make a good first save, only for Phil Harper to pick up the rebound and put his shot goalward, captain Richard Buka was unable to stop the shot on the line.
Stafford were then able to create a bit more sustained pressure, the skills of Dan Rennie saw him turn his marker at the top of the circle and he piled his shot into the bottom corner to equalise.
The firsts then scored a second after a Steve Marsh cross was eventually bundled in at the far post by Charlie Trotter.
Things got even better for Stafford when Dan Howe played the ball over the opposition keeper after a great run and pass by Peatfield.
So the hosts were in completed control at half time, but after the break, North Stafford came out strong, Harper probing the Stafford defence.
A cross from the right hit an opposition forwards foot but was not spotted by the umpire and the ball was played into the goal.
Stafford were obviously upset by the decision and seemed to lose concentration which led to their opponents scoring a third after a slip right saw Harper slot the ball into the goal from another penalty corner.
The firsts got themselves back in front when debutant and ex North Stafford player Ben Cantrill crashed the ball in to the goal after taking a quick free hit, Ben Hollands then got the fifth after finding himself free at the far post.
There was still time for North Stafford to score two late goals after some controversial decisions, to equalise the game.
A great competitive start to the season for Stafford who will need to learn to keep their composure in future games.
Next Saturday, Stafford play local rivals Stone HC at Beaconside, 1.00pm push back.