Tania White got the only goal as Long Sutton claimed the derby day honours away to Spalding on Saturday.
Coach Neil Evans, along with manager Lawrie Sullivan, had planned well for the game as the team reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 formation to nullify any threat down the middle of the pitch with special attention being given to one of Spalding’s playmakers.
Long Sutton’s object was to defend tightly and outside the D, minimising Spalding’s short corner routines.
The first 10 minutes saw Spalding on the attack but the defensive line-up of Lauren Cooper, Lisa Baker, Gemma Parr and White, along with Charlie Leuty and skipper Jo Bland, kept the chances to a minimum.
Apart from a couple of long-range efforts, Sutton keeper Lorraine Wallis was protected well.
Movement was key with Connie and Emmie Gittins dropping back to fill up space out wide and help to compact the game.
As the game settled, Long Sutton began to play some delightful hockey and moved the ball forward.
Lyn Sullivan (formerly Tancred) was back to somewhere near her best up front, ably supported by Leah Goodley, and they began to cause issues for the Spalding defence.
It was entertaining stuff from both sides but Sutton’s key inter-changes saw Louise Southgate, Amber Jones and Jess Burton brought into the system.
Southgate was asked to play various positions on the pitch and almost put Sutton ahead when played in by Sullivan.
Sutton got another chance as Connie Gittins found herself in acres of space on the halfway line having run 30 yards from the opposite side of the pitch.
Not picked up by Spalding, she drove into the D and threaded a ball through to Sullivan who kept going until she was fouled again by keeper Donna Chester-O’Neill and a penalty was awarded.
Up stepped player of the match White to coolly hit the back board and Long Sutton had taken the lead.
Their talk at half-time was about being more aggressive, getting forward quicker to support the front and putting Spalding under pressure.
The second half saw Long Sutton in the ascendancy as Southgate missed another opportunity having been set up by Sullivan – the ball grazing the post.
Sullivan brought out a superb one-handed save to keep the score 1-0.
Sutton continued to go forward but the defensive set-up gave the foundation to the success.
In the last few minutes, Spalding threw everything to get something from the game.
Ellie Holland’s run down the left and a great cross into Charlotte Morris was kept out by Wallis.
Short corners were key and Sutton had done a good job to restrict them – but the last couple of minutes saw two awarded to Spalding.
The second saw the ball diverted away from Wallis by Sutton runner Cooper and the ball trickled the wrong side of the post for those Spalding players.
The win ensures that Long Sutton consolidate fifth place with one game left to play on Saturday at home to St Ives 2nd (1pm).