Driffield lose to division leaders Sheffield Uni Bankers
A Miller penalty corner and Harry Billam goal are the only bright sparks on an otherwise damp squib of a day.
Driffield Men’s 2s 2
Sheffield University Bankers Men’s 4s 5
Scorers: Miller, Billam H
YHA League Division 2
Saturday 3rd November 2018
Driffield Sports Centre, Driffield
5. Hickie ©
8. Billam T
9. Billam H
After a resounding win at Rotherham, Driffield Men’s 2nd XI would face a very different proposition against Sheffield Uni Bankers 4s. The Sheffield-based outfit sat 2nd in the table ahead of the match, proving a real test for the Woldsmen.
With an unbeaten home record to protect, Driffield welcomed back attackers Jonathan Trowsdale and Tom Billam, along with defender Marcus Chacksfield. With Jack Hardeman unavailable for selection, Matthew Knapton partnered Ben Miller in midfield. Driffield also had the luxury of 3 men on the bench, providing fresh legs where needed.
On this Guy Fawkes Night weekend, it was Driffield who were the most explosive out of the blocks, dominating the opening phases. Miller and Knapton dictated play in the middle, unlocking the wobbly Sheffield defence on several occasions.
The incessant pressure finally told, as Sheffield conceded a penalty corner, however Driffield were unable to convert.
With Tom Billam and Jonathan Trowsdale providing the perfect outlets on the wings, the Woldsmen forced yet another penalty corner. This time, a superb set play between Matthew Knapton and Ben Miller, saw the midfield dynamo’s drag flick find the bottom right corner for 1-0.
Driffield really should have capitalised on their lead, with good chances falling to Harry Billam and Mike Sowersby, however the Sheffield defence was resolute and, by now, their attackers had found their stride.
Just six minutes after taking the lead, Driffield succumbed to a swift counterattacking move. A clever run into the circle saw both Graham Hickie and Joseph Watson drawn to the man, who slipped the ball to his team mate. Adam Chard, in goal, attempted to take the player wide but he finished well from a tight angle.
Sheffield began to settle into the match and won a couple of penalty corners, which were defended well by the Driffield back line. However, danger was now lurking with every single Sheffield attack and it was a bit of misfortune which saw the home side go 1-2 down. A pass into the circle was deflected straight into the path of a Sheffield midfielder, who, with the keeper and defenders anticipating a different angle, was able to pick his spot with precision.
Driffield desperately tried to get a foothold back in the game, with Callum Seers impressing on the wing and Marcus Chacksfield providing excellent support. Charlie Hall was also called into action, when Sheffield threatened to score again.
Half time: Driffield 2s 1 Sheffield Uni Bankers 2
The next goal would be crucial in deciding who would win, and so it proved. Despite going a man down for 2 minutes, when the umpire sin-binned an attacker for back chat, Sheffield went further into the lead. A missed tackle allowed the visiting attacker to penetrate deep into the circle, where he produced a neat finish past Adam Chard for number 3.
Driffield then had to weather a further spell of pressure, when Joseph Watson was yellow carded and sin-binned for a heavy challenge on the left side. In that period, Sheffield came very close to extending their lead, with only their attackers knowing how they failed to convert.
When Watson returned to the field, Driffield managed to move up the gears a little, taking the game to their opponents. The impressive Tom Billam latched onto a superb aerial ball from Watson, before passing to his brother Harry Billam, who made no mistake with an excellent chipped finish over the prone keeper.
Despite being right back into the game, just 2 minutes later Sheffield delivered a sucker punch. Working their way into the circle, Graham Hickie lost out in a tussle for the ball and the visiting attacker struck past Adam Chard, making it 2-4.
With time running out, frustration began to creep into Driffield’s game. Jonathan Trowsdale was the next to see yellow, taking his seat in the sin bin for a poor challenge at the attacking end. By now, the home side were ragged in possession, yet could have had the chance to close the deficit, when a penalty corner was fed to Harry Billam, whose effort went high and over the bar.
Sheffield finally put the tie beyond doubt, when some half-hearted tackling presented their midfielder with a clear shot on goal, making it 2-5.
Full time: Driffield 2s 2 Sheffield Uni Bankers 5
Despite the match being close at times, Sheffield proved their superiority, going top of the table. Aimless passing and a lack of communication at times saw Driffield throw away their hard-earned lead, whilst poor discipline only exasperated matters. So, despite playing some good hockey in fits and starts, there were to be no fireworks from Driffield but perhaps there will be a few “rockets” when they return to training.
This coming weekend, the Woldsmen face another tough test, travelling to Leeds to take on Ramgheria.
Man of the Match: Tom Billam—some excellent attacking play on the wing, providing the perfect outlet.