Lacrosse fans turned out on mass on Sunday to watch the eagerly anticipated semi-final between the league champions Cheadle and second placed Stockport in the NEMLA Senior Flags Semi-Final. The game definitely did not disappoint the expecting crowd who were rewarded with a highly competitive game between two evenly matched teams.
Cheadle would start the brightest with England international Nick Watson using his explosive split dodge to devastating effect to get separation from his man and score the opening goal. Glen Humphreys then capitalised on a man-up opportunity to extend Cheadle’s lead further.
Stockport were quick to reply, with Stevie Howe who wriggled his way through the Cheadle defence to open his account in the game and make the score 2-1 at the end of the opening period.
The second quarter saw both teams trade goals with Cheadle’s LDO Sean Wright scoring his first of three in the game, powering his way through the Stockport defence to make the score 3-1.
Stockport then managed to turn the tide of relentless Cheadle pressure and establish a foothold in the game. This was helped in no small part by Tom Patterson and Ben McAllister who were both undoubtedly the catalysts in Stockport’s fightback.
Patterson scored the his first goal of the game with a crease dive to beat Nick Anderton. He also managed to break Chris Brady’s dominance at the face-off to set-up a fast break to equalise just before half time. McAllister made a string of crucial saves, which if scored would have defiantly broken Stockport’s resolve.
In the third period, Stockport capitalised on their run of form and dominated possession. The hosts were rewarded with three goals with Stevie Howe, Lewis Curtis and Greg Rowlinson all getting on the score sheet allowing Stockport to take the lead in the game for the first time.
Cheadle managed to get a goal back from an unlikely source, defender Mark Jones pushing transition and finishing a well worked 2v1 with LDO Sean Wright to beat McAllister and bring the scored to within two. Tom Patterson scored his second of the game just before the end of the quarter to retain Stockport’s three-goal advantage.
The final quarter was all Cheadle. Stockport tried in vein to hold on to their three-goal lead but Cheadle’s defence and goalie Nick Anderton stepped up to the task and managed to turn the ball over twice. This allowed LDO Sean Wright to score two goals on the bounce to bring the scores to 8-7.
With less than a minuet in the game Stockport worked hard to run down the clock but a moment of naivety saw Stockport take a shot with 38 seconds remaining in the game. The shot was saved and cleared by Cheadle who called a time-out to set-up the last play of the game.
With seconds remaining the ball fell to Nick Watson; he dodged and forced McAllister to make a magnificent save but the ball rebounded into a melee of players. Unfortunately for Stockport the ball fell to Ady Bennett who characteristically finished it with lethal precision. Bennett’s goal would tie the scores and ensure two periods of overtime.
In the opening period both sides were tentative with no real chances at either end of the pitch. The second was more exciting with Cheadle playing most of the four minuets man-up. Stockport managed to keep them at bay and the game progressed in to sudden death.
Stockport had the chance to seal victory early on, but Cheadle’s defence turned the ball over yet again. Mark Jones cleared the ball under relentless pressure and found Ady Bennett one-v-one with McAllister. Bennett again calmly slotted the ball in the back of the net to seal victory for Cheadle.
Cheadle now progress to the 2015 NEMLA Flags Final where they will meet Heaton Mersey next Sunday 3pm at Rochdale Lacrosse Club.
Stockport 8-9 Cheadle
Q1: 1-3, Q2: 4-4, Q3: 8-5, Q4: 8-8, OT1: 8-8, OT2: 8-8, OT3: 8-9
Stockport – 8
Steven Howe, 3
Tom Patterson, 2
Greg Rowlinson, 2
Lewis Curtis, 1
Cheadle – 9
Sean Wright, 3
Ady Bennett, 2
Glen Humphreys, 2
Nick Watson, 1
Mark Jones, 1
Image Credit: Lee Warburton