DERWENT Hockey Club 1sts showed little in the way of rustiness on Saturday as they made light of their four-week break for Christmas and New Year by recording their 11th win out of 11 league games this season, beating hosts Nottingham Players 3-0.
If the other teams in East Midlands Division One thought Derwent might let up on their relentless drive to the title, they were mistaken.
Despite Nottingham Players only losing once in 23 months at home, and scoring in every home match during this period, they couldn’t find a way past the defence to cause an upset.
With only the top two promoted, Derwent have now moved 17 points clear of third place and, it almost goes without saying, are very handily placed indeed.
Despite the wintry conditions, the staff at Highfields Hockey Centre did a fantastic job in clearing the frost and ice, which ensured the game got underway.
Derwent got off to a pulsating start, attacking at will and creating numerous opportunities in the opening minutes.
If Derwent had been a little more composed in front of goal they could have quite easily been two goals up after five minutes.
This pattern of play continued with wave after wave of Derwent attack, but the dogged Nottingham side held firm, with their goalkeeper in outstanding form.
Just when Derwent were starting to think it was going to be one of those days, they were awarded a penalty corner.
Tom Ellison stepped up and powered one of his trademark drag flicks low into the back of the net.
The goal settled Derwent, as they started to knock the ball around with confidence, but they still couldn’t add to their tally despite Steve Langrick and Dean Stevens going close.
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The second half saw Derwent make the important breakthrough to take the game away from Players. Ben Everet-Li scored his from a well worked penalty corner, and he scored his 20th goal of the season with 20 minutes to go to put the game beyond doubt.
Disappointingly, Derwent then allowed themselves to lose discipline and get dragged in to scrappy ending. With the game becoming fractious, Nottingham Players had their best spell of the game. They thought they had finally beaten Jamie Carlin in the Derwent goal, but instead saw the ball come back off the post, and cleared by Adam Orduna to safety.
Coach Heath Roberts, was pleased with his team’s showing. “On the whole I was happy with the performance. The first game back, is in my opinion, the hardest game of the season, so to get through it and to maintain the run is all that matters.”
“The defence must be applauded for their performance – to keep six consecutive clean sheets is a remarkable achievement. In particular George Taylor and Matthew Bacon were superb; they’re old heads on young shoulders. When things were getting scrappy at the end of the game, these two showed a level of composure and maturity which was an example to the rest of the squad.”