Melton Hockey Club: Firsts stay in promotion race with Panthers win

James Hewitt's crucial winner against Panthers kept Melton's promotion hopes alive EMN-191203-174431002
James Hewitt's crucial winner against Panthers kept Melton's promotion hopes alive EMN-191203-174431002
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Melton Hockey Club First XI got their promotion push back on track with victory at home to a spirited Panthers side on Saturday.

Only three points now separate the three teams looking for the coveted second automatic promotion spot in East Midlands Division One, with Melton due to play both of those rivals in their final three games.

James Hewitt's crucial winner against Panthers kept Melton's promotion hopes alive EMN-191203-174431002

James Hewitt's crucial winner against Panthers kept Melton's promotion hopes alive EMN-191203-174431002

Melton looked remarkably comfortable in the opening exchanges, passing the ball around at will.

But, in difficult, windy conditions, a momentary lapse allowed Panthers to flick a long ball into the Melton area.

And from there chaos reigned, as Eden failed to clear the ball and Panthers opened the scoring.

It wasn’t the start the Reds wanted, but having only suffered three defeats all season, Melton have become a hard side to beat.

True to form, and for the third successive game, Melton got back into the game through link-up between Kendall and Guy.

In recent weeks the duo have struck up a great understanding, and when Randall found Kendall on the left wing it was inevitable that he’d find Guy at the top of the area to lash home a reverse-stick equaliser.

Back on level terms, the home side pushed Panthers back deeper and deeper.

Clever play from a long corner allowed Hewitt to put in a cross which evaded everyone except for the spritely Sibun who popped up at the back post to score a second for the Reds.

It should have been comfortable from there, but Panthers are a skilful side and they fashioned one more chance before half-time and forced an equaliser.

After a tough half into a strong wind, the second half was entirely one-way traffic as Melton camped themselves in the opposition half.

But the ball just wasn’t falling right, and chances came and went.

With time ticking away, Snow moved forward with the ball and his pass into the penalty area found Cramphorn whose clever touch played in Hewitt six yards out.

The Melton man made no mistake, slotting home for a well-deserved lead.

There was still time for Panthers to almost fashion an equaliser when another flick over the top put them in on goal.

But this time Eden closed the angles and shut the door on what would have been an undeserved draw.

Melton sit in fourth place and travel to Leicester on Saturday, looking to keep up the pressure on second-placed Ashby whom they host the following Saturday.