Rampant Spalding 1st secured promotion from East Men’s Hockey League Division 2N with four games to spare after winning 4-2 at second-placed Pelicans 1st on Saturday.
Knowing that a win would clinch them a return to the promised land of Division One next term, league leaders Spalding made a nervy start against their nearest rivals in blustery King’s Lynn.
They soon settled, though, and went ahead thanks to a moment of magic from top scorer Stuart Cunnington. He went past four players before firing a rocket on his reverse into the corner of the goal.
Pelicans levelled through veteran ex-national league player Sean Kerry, but Spalding went ahead when Glen Perkins buried a rebound after a Cunnington shot was saved.
That became 3-1 when Tom Wilson clinically finished off a top team move – and a trademark drag flick from Cunnington made it four in the second half.
Pelicans pulled one back, but Spalding held on fo the win – and are now focused on sealing the league crown.
Elsewhere, Long Sutton 1st went down 2-1 at Felixstowe 1st in Premier B.
In horrible, blustery conditions, Sutton found themselves 2-0 down early on, before Danny Sisson pulled one back with an excellent individual goal. Despite dominating in the second half, Sutton failed to break down their rivals and slipped to defeat.
Down in Division 3NW, Long Sutton 2nd were held to a 2-2 draw against St Ives 2nd.
Having fallen behind at the Peele Leisure Centre, player-of-the-match Otto hauled the hosts level before they shipped another to go in 2-1 down at half time. Although they were against the wind after the break, Ben Shore grabbed Sutton a deserved leveller.
Spalding 2nd were handed their first loss of the season in Division 4NW after second-placed Louth 1st prevailed 3-1 at Glen Park. Pete Wright had put the hosts ahead.
Meanwhile, Long Sutton 3rd were 2-1 winners over Bourne/Deeping 4th in Division 5NW.
After a goalless first period, Sutton fell behind early in the second half before a deflected Ryan Mountney effort hauled them level. Adam Sisson then sealed the points for Sutton 15 minutes from time with a clever chipped finish after Dan Fisher’s bursting run.
In the same division, second-placed Spalding 3rd were handed a 2-1 reverse by Newmarket 2nd.
Skipper Steve Rodgers put them ahead, but two goals in the last five minutes cruelly sunk the away side.
In Division 6NW (N), a depleted Spalding 4th side went down 6-1 at home against runaway leaders Horncastle 2nd.
Matt Day scored Spalding’s consolation goal.