HOCKEY: Spalding enjoy a gr-eight return

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Danny Shardlow netted four times as Spalding Hockey Club men’s 1st thrashed high-flying Bury St Edmunds 1st 8-2 on their return to action.

In their first Division 2N clash since before Christmas, Spalding were caught cold at Glen Park as a Bury breakaway saw them go 1-0 down inside ten minutes.

New signing Stuart Cunnington soon levelled when he zipped home a drag flicked short corner, only for the away side to go back ahead following a defensive mix-up.

But Spalding kept their cool and Glenn Perkins levelled, before Shardlow fired them ahead with a thumping short corner on half time.

It was all about the home side in the second period, as Shardlow added the fourth with a deceptive shot and Cunnington made it 5-2.

Not done there, both players completed their hat-tricks, before Shardlow grabbed his fourth to round off the perfect start to 2013 for Spalding’s leading side.

Down in Division 6NW (N), Spalding 4th were heled to a 2-2 draw by mid-table rivals Alford 2nd.

Two back-post strikes saw the visitors race into a 2-0 lead, but skipper Matthew Thorley rallied his troops and pulled a goal back before the break.

Alford’s keeper frustrated Spalding for much of the second half, but Thorley again stepped up to smash home a short corner and earn a point.

In the same division, Spalding 5th had the toughest possible return to action as they welcomed leaders Leadenham 1st.

Solid defending and a string of great saves from Max Pearce in the Spalding goal kept Leadenham out in the first half, but they netted three times after the break to seal a 3-0 success.

There was better news for second-placed Long Sutton 2nd, as they won 4-2 at fellow high-fliers Horncastle 2nd – also in 6NW (N).

The home side went ahead against the run of play, but Stefan Fox levelled and a fine finish from Ed White made it 2-1 at half time.

Man-of-the-match White struck an even better second to make it 3-1, with Luke Lovegrove’s penalty flick completing the scoring after Horncastle had pulled one back.

• Robyn Gribble hit a second-half double to earn Long Sutton 2nd a battling comeback draw at Cambridge Nomads 1st in the Lincolnshire Ladies’ Green League on Saturday.

Early efforts from Liz Johnson and Bethany Davies put Nomads 2-0 up in the first half, leaving Sutton with it all to do after the break.

However, they pulled one back when Gribble held off the attention of several defenders and hammered home just after the interval.

Keeper Lorraine Wallis kept Sutton in the game with some fine saves, before a Gribble short corner secured them a share of the spoils. Hannah Greenacre picked up the player of the match award.

It wasn’t such a happy return for Spalding’s top two teams, as they both suffered defeats.

Poachers 1st went down 6-3 at Alford Ladies 1st in East League Division 2NW. Jacqui Hunter had put Spalding ahead, before they fell 3-1 down. Two Karen Breen efforts did get the score back to 4-3 at one stage, but Alford bagged twice more to seal the win.

Also conceding six were Spalding Poachers 2nd at Wisbech Ladies’ 2nd. Karen Thorold and Eva Keyes netted in a 6-2 loss in Cambs Ladies’ League Premier Division.