Hockey: Leek battle back from brink to stun Wakefield
LEEK battled back from the brink to edge a seven-goal thriller against Wakefield in their Men's Conference North encounter.
The Moorlanders appeared to facing the prospect of a second successive defeat, following a 1-0 reverse at Belper in their season's opener.
But from 3-1 down, skipper Dan O'Neil rallied the troops and saw inspirational play-maker Paul Nixon grab a hat-trick, including a last-minute winner, to plunder the points.
Leek's squad depth was sorely tested with a number of absentees meaning seven players were making their home debuts at this level.
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And it required a sharp reflex save from 16-year-old goalkeeper Kieran Bedford in the second minute to prevent the Yorkshire side from taking an early lead.
The visitors didn't have to wait long – five minutes in fact – before they did break the deadlock after a smart move.
The Moorlanders pressed forward, but were caught out on the break as a Wakefield penalty corner resulted in them doubling their advantage.
O'Neil rounded off a superb passing move to drag Leek back into contention, but after more Bedford heroics at the start of the second half, Wakefield broke swiftly to move 3-1 ahead in the 50th minute.
Leek, though, refused to wilt and, urged forward by O'Neil, Nixon and the industrious Elliot White, they laid siege to the visitors' goal.
Nixon, leading the defence a merry dance at times, was upended by the keeper and duly converted the resulting penalty to give the home side renewed hope of staging a late comeback.
And an equaliser wasn't long in coming when a penalty corner routine was rounded off by Nixon to draw the sides level at 3-3.
Not content with a share of the spoils, Leek poured forward in search of a winner... and came up trumps in the dying embers of the game.
One last foray from Nixon saw him fouled once again, and he kept his composure to slot home the penalty to leave Wakefield on their knees and the hosts jumping for joy.
Leek face a double header this weekend with a league trip to Durham on Saturday, followed by a cup clash at Beeston on Sunday.
LEEK men's fourths wrapped up their pre-season preparations with a 1-0 victory over North Staffs thirds.
The Moorlanders couldn't find a way through a stubborn rearguard in the opening half, but eventually capitalised in the second period when Adam Whigham converted a penalty corner which had been won by Ben Thomas' skill.
HONOURS were even for Leek men's fifths as they shared six goals on their trip to North Staffs fourths.
Leek made the perfect start when Jules Brooks shimmied past the keeper to tap into an empty net.
It was quickly 2-0 when Lewis Flint played a one-two with Rob Lawley and fired home.
The second half started in similar vein and the victory appeared to be in the bag once Lawley made it three.
However, a resilient North Staffs side showed their fighting spirit and made the most of some poor defending from Leek to grab three quick goals to claim a draw.
LEEK Ladies firsts endured an afternoon to forget as they started their league season with a 5-0 thumping at Shrewsbury.
Leek held their own for the first 10 minutes, but a couple of well-taken strikes from the Shrews left them in the driving seat at the break.
And it didn't get any better for the visitors in the second half as they shipped in a further three goals.