Pace the ace up Airedale’s sleeve
By Adam Chard
Despite early goals from Ewbank and Chacksfield, Driff suffer home defeat
Driffield Men’s 2s 2
Airedale Men’s 1s 4
YHA League Division 2
Saturday 16th February 2019
Driffield Sports Centre, Driffield
GK. Chard ©
9. Billam H
11. Billam T
After a morale-boosting win in Lincoln, Driffield Men’s 2nd XI would face a real test of their progress with the visit of Airedale. The Shipley-based side had won 2-1 in a bruising encounter earlier in the season, which resulted in long-term injuries to Adam Saltonstall and Willem Smith.
Driffield welcomed back Graham “G” Hickie and Marcus Chacksfield in defence and Tom Billam on the wing. Thanks to a full allocation of subs, Jono Trowsdale was able to move to his preferred position in attack.
Despite another unseasonably warm and sunny day, both teams began the match at a blistering pace. It was Driffield who got out of the blocks quicker, with Willem Smith and Tom Billam taking the game to the Airedale attack. The visitors clearly hadn’t expected such a quick start and were caught out on 2 minutes. An incisive ball through from Tom Billam found Ashley Ewbank on the gallop, drawing the keeper and slotting home for his second goal in successive matches.
However, the goal only appeared to provoke Airedale and they responded swiftly. Within just a couple of minutes they were level as a quick break found the defence napping. The visiting striker picking his spot past the sliding Chard.
Airedale were back on the attack again but some ill-discipline saw their speedy winger sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes to cool off.
Driffield took full advantage of the numerical advantage, attacking with purpose. Willem Smith and Harry Billam combined to put the overlapping Marcus Chacksfield clear to score his first goal for Driffield Men’s 2nd XI.
With yet more frustration in the Airedale ranks, a second player was sent to the bench after chatting back. However, after going down to 9 men for a short period, the visitors appeared to regain their composure.
With just 20 minutes on the clock, a mistake in midfield presented Airedale with a 4 on 3 opportunity, which they worked to perfection, leaving an unmarked man free to sweep past the diving Adam Chard, making it 2-2.
With rolling substitutions bringing fresh legs, Driffield looked to regain the lead, winning a penalty corner. However, a mis-trapped ball left Willem Smith plenty to do and was unable to get his initial shot away.
Driffield were becoming increasingly stretched as Airedale utilised their pacey wingman down the right, and this was to lead to the visitors’ third goal. A storming run into the circle drew Joe Watson and Matthew Knapton, before the ball was pulled back to the big striker who was in the perfect position.
Mike Hirst and Jack Hardeman were combining well in midfield and tried to open up the game with some quick passing. George Morgan found himself charging into the circle but unfortunately couldn’t find the finish.
Half time: Driffield 2s 2 Airedale 1s 3
To counteract the attacking threat from Airedale, Driffield pulled Harry Billam back into midfield, however the Woldsmen still seemed to have little in the way of answers when it came to nullifying their tricky winger.
Harry Billam continued to work hard to retrieve the ball and Mike Sowersby jinked his way into the opposition circle on several occasions, winning a penalty corner. However, on this occasion, Smith’s strike was deflected up and over by an Airedale stick.
The visitors struck the killer blow on 45 minutes. A carbon copy of their third goal, another unchecked run from the right winger drew both Chard and Knapton to the front post, leaving the striker an easy tap in from just 5 yards out.
Despite this, Driffield heads didn’t drop and the home side began to play some of their best hockey of the game.
With quick one touch play, Jack Hardeman, Willem Smith and Tom Billam worked the ball well around the midfield, before releasing Jono Trowsdale, whose dangerous ball flashed across the circle.
Indeed, Driffield were unlucky not to get back into the game when a strike off a penalty corner from Tom Billam appeared to deflect off a stick and into the goal. However, a long corner was awarded instead leaving a few Driffield players scratching their heads.
Despite plenty of huffing and puffing from the home side, Airedale were content to sit back and soak up the pressure. With the Woldsmen committing more players in the attacking half, this left plenty of space in behind. A long ball through found their big striker but Adam Chard was out quick to block his strike before Marcus Chacksfield cleared the danger fully.
The home side kept pushing for a goal but, with time running out, they just couldn’t find that perfect final touch.
With just seconds remaining, Airedale won a penalty corner. After making an initial save, Chard followed up with a second stick save to ensure the scoreline maintained some respectability.
Full time: Driffield 2s 2 Airedale 1s 4
Despite a better second half performance, much of the damage had been done early on as Driffield struggled to deal with Airedale’s pace, power and experience. The Woldsmen will need to take much of the positivity from the latter stages into their next game with relegation-threatened Rotherham.
Man of the Match: Joint award for Jack Hardeman and Mike Hirst. Both players showed plenty of creative skill whilst working tirelessly to recycle the ball.
As always, thanks go to sponsors YorkWold PigPro and the Spread Eagle for post-match teas.