HOCKEY: Survival hopes given big boost

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Spalding’s hopes of top-flight survival were given a huge boost on Saturday.

The men’s first team produced a solid display in an eventful home game against Saffron Walden who beat them 4-2 in the reverse fixture before Christmas.

Things didn’t start well for Spalding as Rob Dalton was sin-binned for a rash tackle inside the first five minutes.

This decision then led to six more yellow cards throughout the game.

As Spalding managed to keep their discipline, Lawrence Smith-Hughes was the only other one to take a break and shortly before half-time, the visitors were down to nine players.

In an even game, Saffron Walden had numerous short corner attempts kept out by man of the match Nathan Davy.

Michael Morris finished off a quick break following a through-ball from Dalton before a trademark Stuart Cunnington drag flick doubled the lead going into the break.

The visitors came out the blocks and immediately pulled one back before Steve Rogers restored the two-goal advantage with a deft deflection.

Saffron Walden reduced the arrears again with a scrappy goal.

Connor Allen scored but the pattern continued as Walden grabbed another goal.

A neat passing move saw captain Josh Rowbottom score the decisive fifth goal and Allen could have made it six but his penalty attempt was fluffed.

The result was dented with news that Ipswich drew – meaning Spalding need at least four more points from three remaining games, all against former National League teams.

Next weekend they make the trip to Chelmsford before a double-header the following week against Harleston Magpies and St Albans.

Meanwhile, Long Sutton beat Felixstowe 10-0 with goals by Josh Fyson (2), Ben Shore (2), Jimmy Harrison, Dan Batten, Will Cook, Matt Goodley, Josh Baker and Luke Jackson. This weekend they have a double-header at Wapping 3rd and Bishop’s Stortford.