Melton Hockey Club First XI dominate but draw at Panthers

Steve Willatts retains possession as his Market Harborough opponent goes aerial EMN-191111-174510002
Steve Willatts retains possession as his Market Harborough opponent goes aerial EMN-191111-174510002
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Melton Hockey Club First XI’s trip to near rivals Panthers served up another hard-fought, tight match between the two sides.

In truth, Melton will feel aggrieved to have left Leicester without all three points having dominated Saturday’s East Midlands Division One clash.

Tom Cramphorn has company in Melton HC Second XI's 6-1 home defeat to league leaders Market Harborough Firsts EMN-191111-174458002

Tom Cramphorn has company in Melton HC Second XI's 6-1 home defeat to league leaders Market Harborough Firsts EMN-191111-174458002

The game moved into a familiar pattern right from the start, with Melton forcing the hosts back.

Possession was controlled, but they carried a constant threat through Sam Pollard, Dave Boyne and young Freddie Welch.

But the ball just wasn’t rolling nicely for the away side, and when it did, the Panthers keeper made some last-ditch saves.

As is so often the case in sport, dominance isn’t always rewarded, and on one of only a handful of breakaway attacks, Panthers earned a penalty corner from which they scrambled in the opening goal.

At half-time the message for the Reds was clear – keep playing the same way.

Camped in their opponents’ half, Melton started to win penalty corners of their own.

Saves and goal-line clearances were all Panthers could do to stay ahead, but it wasn’t enough as a routine move found James Hewitt on the left of the area to flick home an equaliser.

Once again, however, Melton were frustrated as Panthers retook the lead from another scrappy break.

Melton were still playing well, transferring the ball and penning Panthers in their own area.

And when more good passing play found captain John Brookes midway inside the hosts’ half, he played the ball straight into the area for Dan Kendall to swivel and fire home a second equaliser.

Melton mounted attack after attack, and penalty corners began to rack up as more last-ditch efforts were made to deny the visitors.

Finally, a slip found Matt Snow, who hammering the Reds in front at the second attempt.

It should have been enough, but Panthers have some skilful players and fought back to earn their own penalty corner which they converted to level the scores.

There was still time for Melton to sneak a win, but the final clear chance of the game fell to Kendall who drew a good save from the keeper, when he probably should have scored a deserved winner.

Melton sit fourth in the table, but just two points separate them from second-placed Derwent going into a home fixture against the Derbyshire side on Saturday.