Defensive hockey games
COMPETITION was tight in the A1 hockey on the weekend as most teams finished the round with low-scoring games.
In the men’s, Sparks bounced back from a 1-nil defeat by Souths in the local league on Friday night to shut down Southside 2-nil in the Extended league on Saturday.
While Sparks got one back from Meteors with a 1-nil defeat in the women’s, Meteors topped Sparks with the same score line in the previous round.
Souths men’s coach Stewart Rach was glad to be back in the winner’s circle following their Friday night game.
Souths lost its last two games but revived its finals hopes with the 1-nil win over Sparks on Friday night.
Sparks put a lot of pressure on its opposition in the second half but it wasn’t enough as Dion Neal ended the match as the sole goal scorer.
Previous table leaders, Rach was confident of his team’s chances as it headed towards the finals, although the coach conceded competition would get tougher.
Extended league rounds finish one week before local finals begin and Rach told The Observer this meant both Meteors and Sparks would have a number of experienced players returning to the local competition.
Souths midfielders Brent Sweeney and Josh Walters played key roles in the win as did the goal scorer Neal.
Sparks player/coach Andrew McGuire chose to rest a number of regular A1 players on the Friday in preparation for Saturday’s must-win Extended League game.
The move paid off as the Gladstone team claimed a 2-nil at home win that secured them in fourth position overall.
It wasn’t all good news though, Sparks lost two key defenders – Alan Baxter and Gary Porteous – to injury early in the game leaving the team with no substitutes.
“We were down to the bare essentials about 20 minutes in,” McGuire said.
“We were running on empty in the last 10 minutes,” he said.
McGuire and Rueben Schmitt were the two scorers.
In the ladies, the Sparks, Meteors game was as close as they come, according to Meteors coach Roy Smith.
“We traded blows, shots and opportunities,” Smith said.
Both teams struggled to convert chances throughout the game and a penalty stroke awarded to Sparks proved the difference.
Despite recording a loss, Smith was not disappointed.
“From our point of view it’s good that we are competitive,” he said.
Souths’ women had a bye.
The results of Meteors’ away game verse Frenchville in the Extended League were unknown at print.