Driffield M1s made the trip up North to face newly promoted Harrogate M2s, led by ex Driffield skipper Stu Norman. Driffield saw the return of charismatic striker Cherry although were slightly weakened due to Shepherd, Wallace and Needham being unavailable this week.
It was clear from the start that both sides had adopted slightly different formations and the battle would be to see which system would end up dominating the run of play. Harrogate’s 4-3-3 formation was clearly designed to neutralise Driffield’s attacking threat which worked very effectively. The Woldsmen started very brightly, showing their typical pacey and dynamic play, but continued to be frustrated by a very resolute Harrogate defence.
Gate, Miller and Congiu in midfield were occasionally able to create some chances at goal for Martindale, Dewhirst, Cherry and Smith higher up the pitch but largely Harrogate were able to absorb the pressure very effectively. The North Yorkshire side also showed a good deal of threat themselves with Bell, Jackson and Lee in defence having to contain some dangerous counter attacks from some young and skilful Harrogate forward players. Driffield utility player Robson was also busy in all areas of the pitch breaking down many a Harrogate move with some deft tackling and interceptions.
The half ended 0-0 and the game in the 2nd half was equally well balanced with both teams battling for supremacy of the midfield and both having their own fair share of half chances at goal. However, it was Harrogate who struck first following a great piece of play from their veteran left back, who put their centre forward through on goal having slipped away from Jackson and slid the ball past Falkingham’s left foot to the delight of the home supporters.
Driffield have become very adept at not panicking in these situations and continued to play a high standard of hockey with Gate and Congiu at the helm in midfield. Falkingham in goal also had to keep the Woldsmen in the game with an outstanding save to his right from a fearsome Harrogate shot that was destined for the top corner. But with 10 minutes left on the clock Gate played a fierce ball into the D which Smith managed to get a touch to on its way into the Harrogate goal to wild celebrations from the Woldsmen. However, the umpire must not have heard the touch as no goal was given and a 16 yard hit was awarded to Harrogate instead.
This was a bitter blow for Driffield and as the game drew to a close it looked like they were going to suffer their first defeat of the season. However, they continued to battle hard and play great flowing hockey and with just two minutes left Dewhirst was able to bulldoze the ball into the D and find an opposition foot to win a penalty corner. This was the last throw of the dice for Driffield and they opted for a left slip to Gate from the top of the D who’s powerful flick at goal was deflected by a defender’s stick over the keeper to level the scores 1-1. Soon after the final whistle was blown for a well-earned point for both teams and which keeps Driffield up with the lead runners in North 2 East.
Next week they play at home against Marton Furness M1s and will need a win to keep their promotion dreams alive. Thanks as always to club shirt sponsor Yorkwold Pigpro.
Team: Falkingham (GK), Lee, Jackson, Gate (C), Bell, Miller, Congiu, Martindale, Dewhirst, Robson, Cherry, Smith