HOCKEY: Wallis saves a point for Long Sutton against leaders

Long Sutton ladies first team
Long Sutton ladies first team
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Long Sutton ladies first team shared six goals with Alford to stay in touch at the top of the table.

Goalkeeper Lorraine Wallis was the player of the match as fine finishing and staunch defending earned a point.

On the back of a defeat the prior week, Sutton could ill-afford a loss which would see them drop down the league.

Alford – famed for their physicality and direct route one hockey – proved to be a stiff challenge.

Youngsters Leah Goodley, Charlene Leuty and Jess Hudson have experience but academy players Connie and Emmy Gittins also stood firm to the test.

Alford took an early lead and as the half developed Sutton found it difficult to combat the long ball passing and brutal strength.

At the same time Sutton defensively struggled with the low late autumn sun that was shinning directly in their faces.

At the other end, though, they had two great chances in the first half but Leanne Woodead and Lyn Tancred failed to work the goalkeeper.

The defence of Rachael Gadsden, Tania White, Gemma Parr and Lisa Baker were being tormented while the midfield was bypassed by the direct long ball.

Wallis had to be at her best again to keep the deficit down.

Alford’s attacking power was rewarded as they struck and doubled their lead from a very well-worked goal.

Sutton needed more saves from Wallis to keep the half-time difference down to two goals.

On the stroke of half-time and from a short corner Gadsden’s shot was met by an equally good save.

In the second half Sutton gained confidence and after five minutes Woodhead fed Tancred who provided a fantastic touch to reduce the deficit.

Alford responded and increased their lead back to two goals with a fine finish.

A green card was shown to an Alford player and Louise Southgate was dynamic in this phase down the right, well supported by Jo Bland to make in roads.

Goodley, Hudson and Leuty menaced through the middle and left, feeding Woodhead and Tancred.

Despite this good spell, Sutton inevitably left gaps and Wallis was in the very best of form with a series of saves.

Woodhead scored with a very smart finish to bring the scores to 3-2 and Sutton sensed the opportunity.

They won another short corner with eight minutes to go. As the second receiver, Woodhead fired directly to level – giving the keeper no chance.

Sutton pushed forward for the winner but the umpires called time for a fair result.