Tuesday 11 November 2014

Moralee Conference Match Report - Solway Sharks 4 - Sheffield Spartans 1

Spartans travelled up to Dumfries on Saturday for their NIHL Moralee clash with the Solway Sharks but frustratingly went down 4-1 in an enjoyable game of hockey.

In an even opening spell there was nothing to choose between the two teams who were both playing with purpose but it was Sharks that took the lead on 5.20 through Richard Bentham who had picked a pass up from his netminder Gary Russell to then shoot his team into the lead. Spartans had plenty of possession, arguably the greater share of it but they didn’t make the most of it with the final pass either missing or not quite there; whereas Solway always looked the more dangerous when they went on the attack and may have added more than the one they did had it not been for Brandon Stones in Spartans goal. He couldn’t prevent Sharks second though after some lovely build up play was finished off superbly at close range from Joshua Hay; goal timed 15.10 with Struan Tonnar & Richard Bentham getting the assists to see Sharks 2-0 up which was the score going into the period break.

Spartans played with a lot more zest in the second period but couldn’t break down a well drilled Solway team that in fairness controlled large parts of the period despite Spartans efforts to get back into the game. They started the period well but Sharks put themselves in a very good position when they broke out to score on 22.37, a good goal too scored by Richard Bentham assisted Craig Mitchell. Spartans looked more threatening this period and had some good chances to get back into the game but it wasn’t quite falling for them and they were making Sharks work a little harder this period who themselves had some good chances to increase their lead in what was an end to end game. Just when there was reason for optimism Spartans conceded a disappointing goal whilst on the penalty kill timed 34.26, scored by Frazer Goldie, assisted Craig Mitchell & Jens Engelen. Spartans afforded Sharks too much time and space to score what was an unchallenged and relatively easy goal; one that the whole team will want back. It came at a good time for Sharks after a good spell from Spartans who didn’t give up and didn’t quite get the rub of the green when a couple of chances went begging late on in the period, either just going wide or being dealt by with Sharks netminder Gary Russell who was in solid form. At the same time you couldn’t argue that Sharks didn’t deserve to be in front.

Spartans were arguably the better team in the final period and looked a lot more comfortable on the puck but they were up against a determined Sharks team that weren’t going to lead their lead slip away. Consensus amongst some of the home fans was that Sharks took their foot of the pedal but this was harsh on a hard working Spartans team who were creating some good chances but could only manage to put one of them away. Some good intense play was finished off superbly with a great shot from Ben Jones to score his first senior goal for Spartans on 44.33, assisted Nick Manning & Scott Morris. Spartans had the best chance to add to their score late om in the game when it seemed like they were about to score when Gary Russell pulled off an incredibly ridiculous save to make sure Sharks ran out 4-1 winners.

Dumfries is not an easy place to get a result, Sharks home record speaks for itself but there are no complaints from Spartans in regards that Solway deserved their win with a competent performance but we have reason to be optimistic for the weeks ahead with a decent performance from Spartans that on another day may have yielded more but there without doubt many positives to take from the game as well as areas to work on. So the best team won on the night in an enjoyable game of hockey with the Man of the Match Awards going to Richard Bentham for Sharks and Jonathan Kirk for Spartans.

Sheffield Spartans are at home this coming Saturday, 15th  
November facing off at 4.30pm against Manchester Minotaurs in what are always intriguing fixures.

Report by Phil Holden

Photo by David Morrison www.david-morrison-photography.co.uk/solway-sharks