HOCKEY: Long Sutton look to set up final-day showdown

Long Sutton
Long Sutton

The promotion dream is still alive for Long Sutton ladies first team.

They beat Alford 3-2 in the final home game this term to bounce back from a defeat.

Sutton welcomed back skipper Leanne Woodhead with Louise Billingham also having a first start of the season.

Alford gained a penalty corner from which they took the lead with a strike from the top of the D that sped past keeper Lorraine Wallis’ left-hand side to rattle the base board.

Alford got a bit more momentum but Tanya White, Lisa Baker, Jo Bland and Rachael Gadsden kept things tight at the back.

Another short corner from Alford this time saw Wallis make a crucial stop with her right pad to keep the score at 1-0.

As the half continued Long Sutton upped the pace and got their own penalty corner which, following a great strike by Woodhead, saw the ball 
rebound to Charlie Leuty, who made no mistake and fired into the bottom left corner for the equaliser.

Having suffered a green card, Alford were reduced to 10 again on the stroke of half-time for a dangerous stick tackle on Leuty.

As the second half began, Long Sutton were trying to make the advantage work and upped their pace again.

Leuty and Leah Goodley pressed hard while twins Connie and Emmie Gittings, along with Lou Southgate, excelled in the wide areas as Long Sutton took control of the game.

Alford were reduced to playing the long ball through the middle but player of the match White seemed to have all things covered.

It wasn’t long before the home side took the lead when from another penalty corner for a deliberate foot, the ball arrived at the top of the D where a deft drag flick from Woodhead found the back of the net via the defender’s raised stick.

Sutton continued to press to put the game to bed with Connie Gittings making some excellent runs to assist the front two of Lyn Tancred and Woodhead.

However from being seemingly in control, a quick break from Alford down the right and a subsequent cross found unmarked players at the far post and they coolly finished to make the score 2-2.

Wallis was called into action to make crucial saves as the game continued to ebb and flow until 10 minutes from full-time.

Another penalty corner for Long Sutton was again sent to Woodhead but this time the ball found its way to the left to Tancred who slotted home across the keeper to the far post to put the home side once again in the lead.

Other results went in Sutton’s favour which keeps things interesting for the final week of the regular season.

Should Long Sutton win this week away to Bourne Deeping and Newmarket beat Cambridge City 3rd then the final showdown between Newmarket and Long Sutton on April 1 will determine the second promotion spot.

Meanwhile, Joshua Fyson fired a late winner for Long Sutton men’s first team at Norwich City 2nd.

His 13th goal this season secured the 3-2 victory after a 2-0 advantage had been wiped out.

Sutton started cautiously on a very bumpy surface which played havoc to their slick, flowing hockey.

Both teams gave the ball away cheaply but Sutton came close as Fyson smashed a shot against the post before they soon took the lead.

Dan Batten used his speed well and drove into the D. His cross took a wicked deflection off a defender into the goal.

Norwich reacted by trying to counter-attack but James Cliff was in sublime form thwarting their efforts.

The second half was a much more defensive display from Sutton.

They doubled the lead as Batten’s deflection was stopped by a defender as it was sailing into the goal. 
Fyson stepped up and slotted the resulting penalty stroke.

Norwich upped the tempo again and drew level.

Luke Jackson and Ben Shore came close but Sutton got their rewards as Jimmy Harrison took a long corner quickly to Ross Gavaghan who fired the ball in to Fyson. With a deflection, the ball rocketed into the top corner.