HOCKEY: Double delight for Goodley
Matt Goodley’s late winner earned the bragging rights for Long Sutton under-16s.
After missing each other in the first round of East Midlands League matches and both qualifying top of their group, they met in the England Hockey Tier 2 tournament.
Long Sutton started the game pushing high and pressing to see how the Spalding players reacted.
Spalding held onto the ball well but were finding it hard to break through the Long Sutton midfield of Goodley, Will Taylor, Josh Baker and Mckenzie East.
A break before the 10-minute mark by Sutton led to a quick ball being played to James Collingwood-Smith and he drew a foul from the Spalding centre-back Cam Ibrahim, giving away the first short corner of the game.
Goodley received the ball and dummied round the first runner before gliding across the D and slapping past the Spalding keeper.
This could have dampened the spirits of Spalding but all credit to them, it drove them on to push hard against the Long Sutton defence.
Long Sutton dropped into a half court press allowing them time to regroup, ask Spalding to come at them and give little space for the runners.
The game was being played at a very high tempo which showed why these two teams had beaten everyone before them.
Close to the end of the first half, Spalding had their own short corner after a green card for a Sutton player but they were unable to draw level.
The second half started at the same blistering pace but clear scoring chances were at a premium with the game being played in the middle third of the pitch.
The game started to stretch as players began to tire but the skill level never dropped.
Spalding attacked down their right flank and from the initial shot and save, the rebound was slotted home.
This galvanised Spalding to keep going at Long Sutton but the attacks were broken down.
Goodley drove out of defence before being stopped by a Spalding player making a foul to break the attack and allow his team-mates to get back.
He was sin-binned for 10 minutes which added to the pressure on the Spalding defence but the Sutton forwards just couldn’t get through.
A couple of Long Sutton players started to cramp up as the tempo took its toll.
The game was stopped for a while after a collision between two Sutton players and both sides used this to rest before the final 15 minutes.
Space in midfield was growing and the passes getting longer when Taylor intercepted a pass and slipped the ball to Baker who hit a cracking shot which the Spalding keeper again kept out.
With the clock ticking down, it looked like a draw was on the cards which would take the game to penalties.
This would possibly have been a fair result as both teams had worked so hard.
But Long Sutton attacked along the right flank through Baker who drew a stick tackle from the defender. His quick free hit found Goodley who drove into the D before unleashing a reverse stick shot which flew into the bottom corner.
With two minutes left on the clock, Spalding threw everything at it pushing as high as possible trying to get the equaliser but it was not to be and the final whistle went.
Both teams played exceptionally well and it was a game of small margins.
This was Spalding’s first defeat in leagues featuring Northampton and two teams from Leicester showed what quality this part of the county is producing.