Hockey: More Yorkshire misery for Leek
LEEK suffered a case of deja-vu as they returned from Yorkshire for the second successive week empty-handed.
The Moorlanders had been beaten 3-0 by Wakefield the previous week, and found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline at Conference North title-chasers Sheffield Hallam on Saturday.
The early stages of the game indicated a tight encounter, with neither side being able to engineer any meaningful goalmouth activity.
Leek, attempting to move the ball around quickly, found their attacking threat largely nullified by a well organised and disciplined home defence.
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There was the odd sight of goal for the Moorlanders, but Paul Dawson's two attempts from a penalty corner drew fine saves from the Sheffield keeper.
Gradually, Leek's confidence increased, and from a flowing team move they seized the initiative.
Richard Hutchins was the beneficiary of some eye-catching play to fire the visitors into a 26th-minute lead.
However, just two minutes before the interval, Sheffield dragged themselves back on level terms, when England Under-21 international Phil Roper took advantage of a gap in the Leek defence to score.
Sheffield's goal proved to be a pivotal moment in the contest, as they rifled home three goals in an eight-minute spell at the start of the second half.
Roper proved to be the difference, completing his hat-trick to put Hallam 3-1 ahead, despite Leek feeling the two goals had been the result of some questionable officiating.
And the match was put to bed when Paul Harriman added a fourth to complete a frustrating spell for the Moorlanders.
The match then became a mirror-image of the first half with the midfields dominating a little in the way of attacking action.
Leek conjured up a couple of moments of promise, but in truth, they never really threatened to make inroads into Sheffield's advantage.
While the Moorlanders were left to rue the eight minutes of madness, Sheffield were able to celebrate keeping pace with Bowdon – who visit Leek this weekend – in the race for the title.
LEEK Ladies suffered a 4-0 defeat at runaway Midlands Division Two leaders Loughborough Students.
Leek could only muster 11 players to make the trip, but were still optimistic of ending the students' 13-match winning streak.
And it looked as though that optimism could be well placed, with Vicki Bradbury and Emma Clowes carving out early chances on the counter-attack.
But, 10 minutes before the break, Loughborough took the lead, and from that point never looked in danger. Aided by a sluggish start to the second half from Leek, the students soon doubled their advantage.
Leek continued to create chances, but Loughborough scored two further goals by taking advantage of their large squad.
It was Loughborough's 14th successive win, and left them nine points clear of Cannock – and with a game in hand – as they march towards the title.
Leek drop a place to sixth after Solihull Blossomfield won 3-1 at Hampton-in-Arden.