Melton Hockey Club: Firsts pay the price against leaders

Leighton Davis looks to put the North Notts defence under pressure EMN-190122-113858002
Leighton Davis looks to put the North Notts defence under pressure EMN-190122-113858002
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After a hard-fought draw against top-four rivals Derwent the previous weekend, Melton welcomed table-topping North Notts to Burton Road on Saturday.

Despite giving a good account of themselves at times, the Reds came up short with a 5-1 defeat thanks to five minutes of madness.

Andy Brown and Rich Randall on the defensive for Melton First XI EMN-190122-113909002

Andy Brown and Rich Randall on the defensive for Melton First XI EMN-190122-113909002

Notts have won most of their games in East Midlands Division One this season, largely around the counter-attack.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Melton dominated possession for long periods of the first half.

Early chances fell to Cramphorn and Sibun, but the home side couldn’t make their dominance count, and against the run of play, Notts found themselves at the top of the area and a straight strike put them ahead.

Melton responded well, earning several penalty corners, and as the pressure ramped up, Hewitt’s flick towards goal beat the Notts keeper.

At half-time the game was too tight to call, and it seemed that Melton would only lose the game if they got caught on the break.

However, Melton started the second half sluggishly, and were punished when a Notts player waltzed through the home defence.

Bearing down on goal the forward was stopped by an illegal challenge from Pollard which earned a penalty flick and, as last man, a trip to the sin-bin to compound things. Notts comfortably made it 2-1.

What happened next was a disappointment for the Reds.

Down to 10 men, they appeared to panic as they desperately tried to get back on level terms.

Instead, they found themselves caught cold three times in quick succession, and by the time Pollard was waved back on, Melton were 5-1 down and out of the game.

After the setback, the game returned to a similar pattern to the first half.

A few chances came for the home side, but they never truly looked like mounting a comeback, and the game petered out, much to Melton’s chagrin.

The First XI slip to fifth, but remain just four points behind second-placed Ashby.

They head back out on the road on Saturday, as they visit Coalville looking for a more controlled performance.