Long Sutton 3rd produced their finest performance of the season so far to put the skids on Spalding 3rd’s East Men’s Hockey League Division 5NW title charge.
Hosts Sutton handed their rivals only a second loss of the campaign with a 4-2 triumph at the Peele Leisure Centre, leaving Spalding four points behind leaders Cambridge City Vets after eight games.
All looked to be going to plan for Spalding when Tom Shinkins slotted them ahead on five minutes. But Sutton hadn’t read the script and raced into a 3-1 advantage thanks to a scintillating spell of hockey.
John Sullivan netted two quick-fire goals to put his side ahead, with Harry Thorpe firing the third. Luke Lovegrove bagged number four in the second half, before a string of age-defying stops from Albert Slator kept Spalding at bay.
They did pull one back through Peter Gray, but it was scant consolation.
Elsewhere, Long Sutton 1st suffered a 4-2 beating at City of Peterborough 3rd in Premier B Division.
Two Jimmy Harrison goals did have Sutton ahead at 2-1 early in the second period, but they paid for some wasteful finishing as the city side fired three unanswered goals to seal the spoils.
There was a shock to the system for Spalding 1st in Division 2N, as the league leaders were stunned by basement boys Bury St Edmunds.
Goal machine Stuart Cunnington scored the first and last goals of the match, but depleted Spalding – who handed a debut to Lithuanian under-21 indoor international Darius Jackevicius – went down 3-2.
Long Sutton 2nd were also beaten in Division 3NW, as they went down 4-1 at home to City of Peterborough 4th. Andy Shore got their only goal.
There’s no stopping Spalding 2nd in Division 4NW, though. The unbeaten leaders made it nine wins from ten games with a 5-0 home demolition of St Ives 3rd.
Goals from Pete Wright (2), Richard McKenna and Joe Doolan made it 4-0 at half time, with Glen Perkins completing the scoring.
Down in Division 6NW (N), Spalding 4th gained a morale-boosting 3-0 triumph over Bourne/Deeping 5th.
Adrian Bettinson and Mark Smith-Hughes (2) got the goals, with keeper Ian Ceaser having a blinder.
In the same division, Spalding 5th were beaten 2-0 at promotion rivals Boston 1st, who jump above them into second.
• Spalding Poachers 2nd romped to a 6-0 success over local rivals Bourne/Deeping Ladies’ 2nd in East Women’s League Division 3NW (N).
AJ Bunyan was the star of a remarkable first half, helping herself to an impressive hat-trick. Lily Dobbs was also on target to make it an emphatic 4-0 at the break.
Helen Jex and another Dobbs strike completed the scoring, leaving Poachers third in the standings.
There was a top-of-the-table clash in Division 2NW, with Lisa Baker rescuing a point for Long Sutton Ladies’ 1st against promotion rivals Bedford Ladies’ 1st.
Stephanie Holyoak’s first-half drive had Bedford ahead at the break, but Baker rifled home a stunning leveller 13 minutes into the second half.
Back in Division 3NW (N), Long Sutton Ladies’ 2nd suffered a 6-3 beating by hosts Woodhall Spa 1st.
Amber Jones, Laura Temple and Rachael Gadsden were the Sutton scorers.
Down in Division 4NW (N), Spalding Poachers 3rd held leaders Leadenham 1st 3-3 thanks to a terrific treble from hot-shot Karen Breen.