Driffield M1s travelled to Leeds Weetwood this weekend to take on what they expected to be a young, fit and well drilled Leeds 3 team and this was exactly what they were to encounter on another very warm Saturday for hockey.
The Woldsmen started the game very brightly and showed a lot of intent, particularly down the right hand side where Gate and Congiu in midfield were regularly able to release Martindale at pace down the wing. However, Driffield were not quite able to hold onto the ball well enough past the Leeds 23 metre line and several good team movements just fizzled out and a few half chances were spurned.
Leeds on the other hand soon found their momentum and began to work the Driffield Midfield and Defence very hard with some very rapid interplay from a good number of pacey attacking players. Jackson in the centre of the Driffield defence was having to put in a monumental shift to keep Leeds at bay. Driffield initially contained the onslaught well but mid-way through the first half the Woldsmen momentarily lost their shape in the middle of the pitch and soon found themselves 2-0 down following two well worked Leeds goals within the space of 5 minutes.
Driffield managed to stop the rot and held Leeds off for the rest of the half, but did not show any of the threat they had shown at the beginning of the game.
In the second half the Woldsmen had a real challenge ahead of them to get themselves back into the game but from the off they showed great team spirit and solidarity, not rushing or panicking and expertly moved the ball round, making full use of the pitch and all 11 players. Leeds were also playing a high level of hockey on and off the ball and it was clear this was going to be a very tight half with chances opening up at both ends. But it was the Woldsmen who struck first by applying a high press on the Leeds defence, Dewhirst was able to intercept a loose ball near the Leeds baseline and drive towards goal. The veteran midfielder then drew the ball back to the top of the D to Shephard whose shot at goal was parried by the keeper into the path of Cherry who made no mistake in chipping the ball into the net to take the score to 2-1.
The game then entered a period of stalemate with some very hearty challenges from both sides, with Ben “Taxi Driver” Miller receiving 10 minutes in the sin bin for an overly enthusiastic tackle. Not long after Leeds were then awarded a penalty flick for an alleged professional foul by Gate in his own D but thankfully for Driffield the Leeds player put his shot wide. Soon after the Driffield goalkeeper, Falkingham, was then forced into a spectacular save from a Leeds drag flick off a short corner. Leeds could very easily have taken the game away from Driffield at this point but it wasn’t to be for the West Yorkshiremen as in the dying moments of the game Shephard was able to level the score 2-2 with a flick of his own from a Driffield short corner.
This was the first real test for Driffield against a very strong Leeds side away from home and they were not found wanting. The woldsmen will learn plenty from the game but will also take a lot of confidence from it coming into their home game next week against Richmond.