Stafford HC 1st suffered a slip up last weekend in aim to win West Midlands Div 1 of the Midlands Regional Hockey Association by drawing 2-2 against Yardley HC.
Due to the league withdrawal of Oswestry HC and a blank week, Stafford had not played in three weeks and looked rusty from the start. What they were not expecting however was the tenacity and work rate from a young team, obviously fired up about facing the league leaders.
So despite early pressure, Stafford could not really make any chances count and Yardley were intent on breaking down play and then trying the quick counter attack. It paid dividends for them when they won their only penalty corner. It was dispatched with aplomb, the ball deflecting over a diving Dan Howe who just got his stick to it.
Stafford were stunned but then took control, they were able to win numerous penalty corners but their usual slick routines were not firing, and the Yardley goal keeper had a great afternoon. Eventually Stafford grabbed the equaliser when James Wilde burst through and his shot was deflected in by Charlie Trotter.
The barrage continued but the game was tied at half time. In the second half it was more of the same, penalty corners won and missed and it seemed time was running out for Stafford. Trotter then popped up at the far post and guided the ball into the goal for Stafford to take the lead. Unfortunately they could not keep hold of it as a couple of missed tackles in midfield saw Yardley advance into the circle, their forward turned and slotted the ball under the advancing keeper to have the home team in raptures.
No doubt a huge confidence boost for the young Yardley side, who have gone through some tough times over the last few years, congratulations to them on their performance.
Stafford still remain unbeaten this season after the result against Oswestry was voided. Next week they play new league leaders West Bromwich HC 1.00pm at Beaconside, a win will see Stafford go ahead of them with two games in hand.