Sheffield Spartans triumphed 10-4 in Altrincham against Manchester Minotaurs but the score doesn’t reflect how the game panned out. Spartans dominated large parts of the game with some great hockey but also hustled to grind out goals to deservedly win.
The first period started with both teams enjoying spells of possession but failing to take control of the game until Ollie Barron popped one in from Elliott Knell & Stuart Brittle timed 6.42. Prior to that Minotaurs had created the best opportunity but a great save from Brandon Stones denied them what looked like a certain goal. Spartans slowly gained the upper hand and spent the last half of the period basically camped in Minotaurs defensive zone but only had Andy Turner’s clever tip in on the powerplay to show for their efforts; goal timed 14.59 with assists to Shaun Wild & Jonathan Kirk. It was amazing that it was only 2-0 to Spartans at the end of the period and in some regards we’d let Minotaurs off the hook but they deserve credit for digging in to keep the score down.
Manchester started the period in determined mood but found themselves 3-0 down when a lovely pass from Nick Manning, that split Minotaurs defence, found Will Barron who put away his one on one play despite Fox’s best efforts to keep the puck out. Just as Spartans were settling Minotaurs hit back with a Tomas Hnilca powerplay goal on 24.16 but Spartans response was swift with two quick fire goals to make it 5-1. James Maughan scored on 25.50; assisted Chris Wilcox & Nick Manning followed by a well worked goal that saw James Maughan & Nick Whyatt set up Alex Harding on 26.18. Spartans had some excellent chances that went just wide or that were saved but it wasn’t all one way and they were grateful for some solid netminding from Brandon Stones and Matt Croyle, after changing netminders, to take the sting out of the game at times.
Spartans controlled the lion’s share of the period but had to be alert as Manchester looked to counter but when Shaun Wild, assisted James Maughan on 46.06, then Ollie Barron, assisted Jonathan Kirk & Stuart Brittle on 47.59 Spartans looked home & dry. That was until Lee Pollitt scored a very good goal shortly after timed 48.34. Minotaurs almost added another but a good save from Matt Croyle denied them and seemed to stir Spartans back into life who again put Manchester under pressure to once again stamp their authority on the game and put it completely out of Manchester’s reach. Some nice build up play from Alex Harding & Dave Pyatt set Nick Whyatt on his way to score a good goal on 55.21 to make it 8-2. From the subsequent face off Nick Manning & Will Barron set up Dave Pyatt who made no mistake with his effort on 55.49.
More intense pressure yielded another goal for Spartans when Scott Morris scored on 58.19 after some good play from Will Barron & Nick Manning to make it 10-2. As the clock ticked down and the game won, Spartans took their eye off the puck for Brian Worrall to fire in for a well taken goal to make it 10-3 on 59.50. Spartans frustration was clear to see, even more so when their failure to react saw Minotaurs score again with one second left on the clock through Kieren Death.
There was a little confusion with it being so late on as to whether the goal stood but it did with the confusion stemming from the scoreboard operator not being bothered to put the goal up. Their apparent disappointed mood was shared by Spartans during the end of game handshakes and although those two late conceded goals brought a frustrating conclusion to the game they should not be allowed to detract from what was a good performance from Spartans. It wasn’t pretty at times but they played well, worked hard and showed a determined will to get the job done. There were some good performances with no single player having a bad game but Will Barron was a worthy winner of the Man of the Match beers.
Final Score: Manchester Minotaurs 4 Spartans 10
Report by Phil Holden
Photo: Spartans attack the Minotaurs' goal - photo by Steve Pollitt