Hockey: Alderley Edge men continue good run of form

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In the North Premier division Alderley Edge visited Leeds Gryphons with relegation still threatening, as the bottom three could go down due to relegations from the National League.

Alderley Edge had picked up three wins and a draw in their last five games and Leeds had dropped from third due to a poor recent run of results.

Alderley Edge looked to start brightly but found a fast and committed Leeds side, made up mainly of students, a difficult side to break down. Leeds wasted a couple of opportunities hitting the near post when in good positions. Alderley Edge eventually got a foothold in the game and opened the scoring when 16 year old Rob Hughes picked the ball up on the left of the D and from an acute angle he hit a reverse stick strike that was too hot for the Leeds keeper.

The game started to get scrappy with hard tackling all over the pitch and warnings being issued by the Umpires. Just before half time Leeds got back into the game when from the edge of the 25 yard line the Leeds player fired the ball into the D and a couple of slight deflections was enough to equalise.

The second half was an even affair with Alderley going close through Sam Gregory and Tom Sibley, whilst also squandering several penalty corners. Leeds were awarded a penalty stroke when Alderley were slow reacting to a restart after injury and after the initial attempt was saved the shot on the rebound struck the unfortunate Ben Badger and Leeds took the lead from the spot.

Alderley Edge are a much stronger team of late and they began to put their hosts under real pressure and with 10 minutes to go a great piece of individual skill from Andrew Jackson brought Alderley Edge level, he held off his marker at the top of the D and allowed the ball to run on to his reverse side and unleashed a strike that the diving keeper had little chance with.

With only three minutes to go Alderley Edge won another short corner and this time the injection and stop were clean and Tim Pont rifled the ball into the top corner. The action had not quite finished as a minute later Leeds won their only corner of the game but Riley produced the save from the flicked shot and Alderley Edge ran out winners.

The teams below Alderley Edge also picked up points, but those directly above lost moving Alderley up to 8th place 3 points from 6th place but only 2 points above 11th, with bottom placed Formby the only team definitely relegated with two games left to go.

Alderley Edge Men's second team have made it three successive promotions by getting the point they needed against Southport this week. With the objective of simply staying in the division at the start of the season they have surpassed themselves putting a series of impressive team performances.

The game against Southport was not a classic: it was hard fought throughout and even in terms of possession. Southport took the lead with a low flick into the bottom corner. Alderley Edge equalised when Oli Wildig was first to react and score from close range following an initial save from Warburton's drag-flick. Southport retook the lead when they converted a slick penalty corner routine. With 10 minutes to go Sam Baker grabbed the equaliser with a volleyed finish. It could have been an easier ride for Alderley Edge if they had been more clinical in front of goal and with their penalty corners. It did not matter and they will now play in the North league for the first time in their history.

Alderley Edge third team still have the dream of a perfect season following their 21st straight win 8-0 versus Deeside Ramblers, with goals from Oli Kennon (3), Brandon Few, Jon Talbot, Richard Williams, Sam Gardner and a Nathan Sains penalty stroke.

The 4s beat Sale 6-1 and will miss out on promotion by just one spot with a third place finish. The 5th team faced Sale 3s on Saturday in a top of the table clash and lost out going down 1-0. On Sunday they played Sale 4s and won 13-0. The 6th team are currently top having played more games and they still unbeaten following their 10-2 win against Sale 4s.

Match report by James Riley.

Photo: Alderley Edge Men's second team.

Alderley Edge Hockey Club, Hockey