Melton Hockey: Relegated Firsts go down fighting

James Hewitt keeps his eyes on the ball as Melton Firsts clash with league champins Warwick EMN-160322-091706002
James Hewitt keeps his eyes on the ball as Melton Firsts clash with league champins Warwick EMN-160322-091706002
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Melton HC First XI hosted unbeaten league champions Warwick in their final game of the season and produced a performance which typified their season.

The visitors started with high intensity, while Melton appeared to be going through the motions. This led to numerous mistakes and misplaced passed as Warwick upped the pressure.

Action from Melton HC First XI's final game of the season EMN-160322-091733002

Action from Melton HC First XI's final game of the season EMN-160322-091733002

Eventually the deadlock was broken when Warwick converted a short corner with a drag-flick low into the corner.

Sensing the confidence in Melton was waning Warwick continued to defend aggressively, not allowing the hosts time to settle and they scored again from a short corner.

The visitors continued to show the gulf in quality but could only take one more of the numerous chances they created.

Melton did have some bright spells towards half-time, but weren’t able to create anything too threatening.

Action from Melton HC First XI's final game of the season EMN-160322-091722002

Action from Melton HC First XI's final game of the season EMN-160322-091722002

Melton came out following a half-time ear-bashing and promptly started to play some of the hockey they are capable of.

Warwick were caught out when a defensive clearance found Andy Sibun on the halfway line who rounded his man and sprinted clear.

As Sibun closed in on goal, the covering defender tried his best to throw him off-balance, but he managed to maintain control and squeezed a shot through the keeper’s legs.

Melton’s confidence grew as Warwick were pushed out of their comfort zone and Danny Kendall added another to bring Melton back into the game.

Kendall then sent Sibun clear with a defence-splitting pass, but the keeper timed his challenge well, before good work down the left led to Kendall flashing a shot narrowly wide.

With Melton pushing hard for the equaliser, Warwick began to find a few gaps and a ball crashed into the area found an unmarked man at the back post to deflect home.

Melton’s confidence was undimmed in an end-to-end game, earning penalty corners as rewards for their effort.

The game looked to have been finally settled when an aerial ball was misjudged, leaving two Warwick forwards to play the ball round Nick Eden in goal and put the ball into an empty net.

Melton responded when James Hewitt’s short corner effort was deflected by a Warwick defender onto his own goalkeeper. The ball rebounded to Kendall who smashed home for his fifth goal in three games.

But the visitors put the result beyond doubt when they made it 6-3 with another drag-flick.

The game typified Melton’s season, highlighting that when they get their game together they could challenge anyone in the league.

Unfortunately it was too infrequent and relegation is the result. Melton will use this to rebuild their side this summer with an emphasis on the future.