HOCKEY: Emphatic Spalding top Midlands group

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A FLAWLESS display from Spalding Hockey Club’s girls saw them top their group in Midlands Section Two of the EHB under-16 Championship.

Having won their first two games in the competition, Spalding U/16s faced fixtures against Leicester and City of Peterborough as they looked to secure their progress to the next stage.

Full of confidence, they took on a strong Leicester team at Uppingham School first – and what a start they made.

Goals from Katie Gray, Lily Dobbs and Di Bevan put Spalding into a commanding 3-0 lead.

But a late surge from the Leicester girls was rewarded with two goals – and this made for a tense finish.

They couldn’t complete the comeback though, as excellent work by the young Poachers’ defence under pressure kept them at bay to secure a hard earned victory.

It was a different story against COP, as the girls rounded off a sensational group stage in style. They turned in an excellent team performance and were dominant throughout in a thumping 5-0 triumph.

Spalding took an early lead through Gray and never looked back.

With Rachel Perkins and Sophie Hart linking well down the right, Spalding regularly caused problems in the city side’s defence.

Sure enough, Gray added a second after some excellent work by Annie Dalton – and she went on to complete her hat-trick to put Spalding 3-0 up at the break.

In a solid second half performance, Spalding gave Peterborough little opportunity to score with some determined defending.

Emma Dalton, in particular, was outstanding.

More goals followed, as Dobbs added a fourth from a short corner and the irrepressible Gray took her tally to four to complete an emphatic victory and confirm their place as clear section winners.

The Spalding girls took their section by storm, winning all four of their games and scoring 21 goals in the process.

They will now join seven other teams from the Midlands region in Tier Two of the national competition in the spring.

The top two teams from that group will then qualify for the national finals.