Hockey: North Stafford left on cloud nine in Midland One promotion race
NORTH Stafford have promotion in their grasp following a 9-0 thrashing of hapless Streetly.
Their demolition job, coupled with rivals Worcester's surprise 1-1 draw at struggling Warwick, ensured the Newcastle-based club jumped back into second place in Midlands One.
North Stafford hold a two-point advantage heading into the final weekend of the season in the race to join champions Nottingham University in the Premier Division.
They make the trip to Warwick on Saturday needing to match the result third-placed Worcester achieve from their visit to Wolverhampton.
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There were few signs of North Staffs' goal frenzy in the early exchanges of their encounter with Streetly.
However, an uninspiring opening 20 minutes was finally brought to life when Stu Stanway set the ball rolling with a fierce strike from a penalty corner.
Randall Moore soon doubled the advantage to leave the home side in a commanding position at the interval.
And with Streetly having to break from their defensive-minded approach, North Staffs were able to exploit the ever-increasing gaps with some free-flowing attacking play.
Stanway was soon showcasing his prowess from set-pieces with another well-executed penalty corner routine, before Ollie Adams made it 4-0 after reacting first to the loose ball from a half-cleared set-play.
Moore produced a sublime piece of skill to weave his way through the Streetly defence to score with a reverse flick to make it five, while Stanway completed his hat-trick – again from a penalty corner – to take North Staffs' tally to half-a-dozen.
Gripped by scoring fever, the hosts continued to pile forward against an increasingly dejected and tiring visiting back line. Andy Barker, with the aid of a deflection, scored number seven, and Mitch Smith was rewarded for an impressive performance with a cool finish following a fine save by the Streetly keeper.
Fittingly, Stanway, who had opened the scoring, finished off the victory with a short corner strike to conclude an excellent afternoon's work.
STAFFORD endured a miserable road trip to Old Wulfrunians as they returned on a the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline in West Midlands One.
Will Ashworth and Justin Thorpe both scored twice for a rampant home side. And Old Wulfs proved they were a cut above as Owen Shave completed the rout.
GOALKEEPER Chris Amison's Barlaston swan-song proved to be busy and disappointing in equal measure as they suffered an 8-0 home mauling by promoted Ludlow.
Family commitments have prompted Amison to hang up his pads, but he signed off on a low note as Barlaston wound up their West Midlands Two season in disastrous fashion.
Amison's hopes of a winning finale were rapidly undone in the opening half as three defensive errors left him exposed and enabled Ludlow to establish a 3-0 interval lead.
Mark Rushton's sin-binning ended any hopes of a Barlaston comeback, and when he returned, another three goals had found their way into the home net. Two more short corners were converted by Ludlow – to take their goal tally to 111 in 17 matches – to complete Barlaston's misery.
The hosts' day was suitably summed up when, searching for a consolation, strikers Mark Andrews and Chris Buckley fell over each other trying to take a shot.