DIVISION 1 MEN
NOTHING could separate West and Tigers after a tense Division 1 men’s contest in round six of the 2020 Lower South East Hockey Association season at Blue Lake Sports Park on Saturday.
Both sides were locked at two goals apiece when the final whistle blew, which was a fair result after the rivals shared stages of dominance.
Tigers started the battle as the stronger side and created scoring opportunities through midfielder Lochie Nisbet.
Nisbet’s control allowed the likes of Aaron Mengler and Connor Grant to threaten the goal circle before Greg Doll missed a scoring shot.
Eventually Tigers’ attacking mindset created success when Mengler scored the opening goal of the game.
Tigers carried the one-goal lead into half time after dictating terms across the first two quarters.
West’s struggle then took a turn for the worse in the third term after Jonathan Allcock was sent off the field.
However, the side found a way to get back into the game and youngster Aiden Cameron converted a penalty corner to level the scores against the run of play.
Tigers responded immediately in dramatic fashion with Mengler scoring his second goal to reclaim the lead.
Tensions flared further and Allcock was sent to the sidelines for a second time, leaving his team to search for an avenue to save the game.
West shifted up a gear in the last quarter and increased the pressure on Tigers threatening the goal circle.
Promising 14-year-old Brock Ward set up an ideal scoring opportunity and passed to Connor Clark, who struck his first goal in two seasons.
Suddenly West had found the equaliser and pushed for an unexpected victory.
With two minutes left on the clock, Allcock – who had returned to the field – thought he had found the perfect chance to score a match-winning goal, but his flick was denied by the Tigers goalkeepers’ shoulder.
After a nail-biting finish, both teams had to settle for a two-all draw.
As West’s playing coach, Allcock said a draw was probably a fair result after both teams dictated terms during the hard-fought match.
“It was a heated affair,” he said.
“Tigers started as the stronger team and played pretty well.
“They were a bit more patient, but the game turned in the third quarter.
“We started playing more attractive hockey and used the plan we had in place at the start of the game.”
Allcock said the way his team responded to Tigers’ strong start and avoided defeat encouraged him moving forward.
“The most important thing was the team became aware we stepped away from the game plan and stayed true to our values in the second half,” he said.
“It worked really well and demonstrated we can adapt to different situations – it was a great turnaround.”
Strikers cleaned up Redbacks in the other Division 1 men’s fixture on Friday night.
A Jordan Millhouse hat-trick led Strikers to a 6-1 win, while Redbacks is still yet to score its first victory of the season.
DIVISION 1 WOMEN
UNDER wintry skies West overcame Tigers with ease in the pair’s round six Lower South East Hockey Association Division 1 women’s clash at Blue Lake Sports Park on Sunday.
West stormed out of the blocks and took the game on from the first whistle to cruise to an eventual 6-1 win.
The confident side regularly attacked the goals and locked the ball in its forward half.
That hard work paid dividends early with two quick goals off the sticks of Georgia Clarke and Gemma Ballintyne.
Tigers struggled to get into the game and was down 2-0 at quarter time, before it took to the pitch with a reinvigorated effort after the break.
West was suddenly forced to defend hard as Tigers pressed forward with several breakaways.
However, West managed to increase its lead against the run of play when Angela Broad pounced on an opportunity.
Despite an impressive quarter, Tigers could not trouble the scorers and had a steep climb ahead in the second half with a three-goal deficit.
The team’s day took another turn for the worse when Clarke opened the third term with her second goal of the day.
Eventually Tigers’ building pressure broke through the West defence and Danielle Wrighton scored a confidence-boosting goal.
West hit back hard in response and Clarke scored her second goal of the term and third for the match moments before the three-quarter-time whistle blew.
Both sides continued to fight hard during the closing stages with several opportunities at either end.
However, the only player to score was West defender Paige Clark, who signed off her team’s five-goal victory in style.
Carly Emerson took over West’s coaching duties from the unavailable David Vine and thought the scoreboard did not reflect the difference between the two sides.
“It was a hard-fought match by both teams,” she said.
“We were lucky to get a couple of quick goals at the start to boost our morale, but Tigers also played a good game.
“They kept pressing and got a few quick breakaways, but luckily they were not able to convert.
“It was a beautiful game to watch.”
After a strong team performance, Emerson said she found it hard to pick any best players.
“I cannot single out anyone, so credit goes out to the whole team,” she said.
“They actually communicated well, which is something we have lacked.
“We played the team a little bit differently, so I am happy to come away with the win.”
Redbacks and Strikers faced off in the other Division 1 women’s clash on Saturday afternoon.
Redbacks prevailed 2-0 in a tight encounter with Claudia Edmonds and Zara Blackwell the goal scorers.