Melton Hockey Club: First XI held in battle of promotion chasers

Sam Pollard was forced off through injury during an unlucky first half for Melton against Derwent EMN-190114-180335002
Sam Pollard was forced off through injury during an unlucky first half for Melton against Derwent EMN-190114-180335002
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Melton Hockey Club’s men’s First XI dusted off the post-Christmas cobwebs against Derwent with an entertaining draw.

Hosting a side just two points and one place above fourth-placed Melton in East Midlands Division One, it was a match which could have gone either way.

Rich Randall in possession for Melton Firsts during their draw with fellow high-flyers Derwent EMN-190114-180325002

Rich Randall in possession for Melton Firsts during their draw with fellow high-flyers Derwent EMN-190114-180325002

A strong Melton side began much quicker and controlled the first 10 minutes of the match.

Camped out in the visitors’ half, the Reds forced Derwent’s keeper into two smart saves from Brookes and Kendall.

But frustratingly for Melton, mistakes started to creep into their game, allowing the away side to break out and grow into the match.

As Melton started to struggle, things got worse as Taylor, Brown, and Pollard all suffered injuries in quick succession.

And after Melton failed to clear their lines, Derwent struck to open the scoring.

Half-time arrived at just the right moment, allowing the home side to regroup.

As the game restarted, Melton stemmed the flow of pressure from the away team as the second half became an end-to-end affair.

It seemed every spell of pressure for one side gave the other side an opportunity to score on the counter.

It was then perhaps no surprise when Melton broke away from defence and equalised.

Randall found Hewitt, who fed Brookes in the area, only for his shot to fall into the path of Kendall who swiped a shot past the Derwent keeper.

The Derwent keeper went on to make several more saves as the game hung in the balance.

But the away side continued to carry their own threat, too, and a penalty-corner against the run of play put them back in front.

Melton had it all to do again, but they showed plenty of character as they finished the stronger side.

It was fully deserved when the ball was fired into the area and the returning Sibun deflected the ball into the goal for 2-2.

With no time left on the clock, Melton’s final attack of the game saw the visiting keeper make one last points-saving stop moments before the final whistle.

The points were shared, with both teams remaining in touching distance of second-placed Ashby.

Melton face another big home test on Saturday when table-topping North Notts visit Burton Road for a 12.30pm start.