Harpenden 2 Colchester 1
NE14Hockey East LeaguePremier BHarpenden 2 Colchester 1COLCHESTER's league season started with an encouraging performance but ultimately a disappointing loss.
NE14Hockey East League
Harpenden 2 Colchester 1
COLCHESTER's league season started with an encouraging performance but ultimately a disappointing loss.
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The Essex side gave league debuts to Richard Sexton and Richard Bran and also a first league start to Joe Rich.
It was Harpenden that started the match better with Michael Pearce tackling well to deny a Harpenden forward after a quick breakaway.
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The hosts didn't have to wait long before taking the lead. With just four minutes on the clock Harpenden broke away again. A neat one-two in midfield generated the space for a forward to get a shot off, only for Grant Hibbert to save, however the ball fell to another attacker in the 'D' who made no mistake with his shot.
Harpenden continued to press forward and shot wide after another good move.
Colchester's coach James Southgate decided in a change of tactics to go to a half court press as the midfield was getting overrun and the change played dividends as Colchester can into the game more.
As a result the visitors defended much better which allowed them to attack from a more solid base. Colchester's best chance of the half came from a penalty corner, but Matt Low couldn't find the target as he fired the ball high and wide.
Colchester continued the second half as they had ended the first being very disciplined in defence and their chances of getting back on a even footing were dealt a helping hand as one of Harpenden's midfield was yellow carded for a stick tackle.
Southgate's side then had a glorious chance to equalise when Rohan Khaira switched the ball across the pitch towards Rob Mann, who let the ball run through to Duncan Scott.
With the ball running away from Scott he managed to slip the ball back to the top of the 'D' however Tim Wright couldn't quite control the ball to get his shot off.
Colchester still needed to be on their guard and were indebted to, first, Hibbert who made a good save from a through ball to the Harpenden attack and then Tom Philp who cleared the ball off the line from the rebound.
Mann came into the game and it was his good run into the 'D' which drew a foul for Colchester's second penalty corner of the match. However, with Colchester's regular injector off the field, the push out was poor and the corner broke down.
Colchester were not getting the run of the decisions as good claims for a penalty flick and a penalty corner were denied.
Duncan Scott made a good tackle on a Harpenden defender before finding a pass to Brian Barker in the 'D'. Barker turned and appeared to have is stick baulked as he tried to get a shot of, but the umpire deemed the tackle to be good and only awarded a long corner. Then, soon afterwards, a ball into the 'D' from Mark Kennedy hit a Harpenden foot, but again the umpire saw nothing wrong and play continued.
With time running out Harpenden doubled their advantage. Colchester gave away a second penalty corner, which was drag-flicked low to Hibbert's right.
The goal saw Southgate change Colchester's tactics once again, with Colchester pushing an extra man in midfield from the defence.
This worked straight away as within a minute Colchester had pulled a goal back. Another good run by Mann into the 'D' saw him get his shot off with Barker on hand in front of the goalkeeper to deflect the ball into the net.
Colchester almost got an equaliser when the same two players combined for another deflection chance but this time it was saved by the Harpenden keeper.
Colchester pressed hard and were camped in the Harpenden half for much of the last ten minutes but were just unable to get the equalising goal.
Hills Residential Man of the Match was Mark Kennedy for his resolute defending.