Meteors survive late burst
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
METEORS overcame a late Sparks challenge to open the Gladstone and District Hockey Association A1 men's premiership with a 3-2 win at Rigby Park last Saturday.
Defying the heat, both sides attacked from the outset, executing play to a standard not generally associated with early season matches.
Despite the end-to-end action, it was not until the 21st minute of a shortened first half that the first blow was struck with a Sparks raid down the right corridor culminating with a superbly struck Warwick Smith goal from an acute angle.
Sparks maintained their lead until seven minutes into the second half when a back stick shot by Meteors' Shannon Bobart was blocked by Sparks goalkeeper Wayne Boyd only for Wayne Chapman to swoop and score.
The goal lifted Meteors' intensity and they were soon back in Sparks' circle pushing for another.
An excellent save off the line by Sparks defender Gary Porteous in the 45th minute went unrewarded as a penalty was awarded to Meteors from the ensuing goalmouth scramble, Craig Mathison calmly potting converting for a 2-1 lead.
Mathison snared his second goal from a short corner three minutes later as Meteors took control before a Mark Davies goal with eight minutes remaining kept Sparks' hopes alive. However, Meteors held on for the win.
Meteors defender Mark Stephens was strong at the back in his first A1 men's match since 2000.
The veteran looked assured at the back and his ability to read the game had obviously not been affected by his absence.
'It's like riding a bike, you never forget,' Stephens said after the win.
'It was good to be back.'
Chapman's return to action also provided Meteors with additional class while Davies and Matt Stoneley were in good form for Sparks.