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SEMLA – Spencer fire out title warning

Big guns Spencer took the showpiece match with a convincing 12-3 win at a rebuilding Hampstead and their early season form looks ominous for the chasing pack.

But they are joined in the undefeated section of the league by champions Blues, Hillcroft and Hitchin, who blazed in 20 goals for the second week running.

Rob Holmes, Eddie Vita and Will Walker were the Earlsfield sharpshooters but vice-captain Tom Leahy praised Hampstead’s approach to the game.

“They should not be underestimated. They have good lacrosse heads and play for the full 80 minutes,” he said. “If they get a consistent team, they should upset some people.

”Spencer’s win was built on a strong defensive display in front of the commanding Rick Bone that allowed the attack time to size up openings and get the scoreboard ticking.“We are still finding each other more each week and hope to improve every game,” added Leahy.

Former Spencer stalwart Alan Keeley bagged two of Hampstead’s goals and the transitioning team is gathering momentum. Blues were made to sweat it out against a Reading side that has showing a steely side to go with their go-forward flair.

Dave Cluney’s side had to dig deep for a 9-6 win but they specialise in emerging triumphant from tough corners and the new line-up is gelling.

Reading got in front early on and the teams were 4-4 at half time before the visitors made the decisive push. “Reading were resilient and made us scrap and, despite having a lot of possession, it was always close,” he said.

“We are still tinkering with the team but started to show signs of cohesion at both ends of the field.”

The Wildcats are not content with coming close and believe they can mix it at the top level. “It was a close game and Blues were the stronger team but it was frustrating as I know we can do a lot better,” said skipper Paul Milner.

“They dominated on the face-off and had the lion’s share of possession throughout the game. They played really patiently on offense and, though our defence was outstanding, they wore us down. “I can’t fault the effort and we fought hard for the entire game. We are definitely starting to gel more and I hope we take something positive from this game and keep improving.”

Joe Strawley, who has moved down from Timperley to study at Reading University, had a stand-out performance in defence with Milner leading the attack with three goals.

Hillcroft notched up their second win with a closer than expected 10-5 win over Purley who used a zone defence to de-stabilise the home team and scored two clinical goals on man-up in the first quarter.

They were 4-3 up at half time before the Croft stormed back with Liam O’Mahoney stepping effectively into attack as the offence clicked.

“It started to work in the second half with slick passing and dominant displays of passing that saw us win that half 7-1,” said vice captain Harry Collins. “We showed glimpses of what we are capable of but there’s a lot more to come.”

East Grinstead made full use of home advantage to score an important 12-7 win over Bristol Bombers. Tony Joseph and his squad have worked hard to plug the gaps left by a series of departures and are acutely aware of the games they simply have to win.

“It was a good match to play in and we produced a great team effort across the pitch,” he said. “We’ve lost some of our best shooters but are looking solid up front.

“LSM Dave Austin was a stand-out, stripping players and clearing intelligently while Jack Foster was the supreme all rounder across the field and Murray Tuach lead the attack with some pin-point shooting.”

The Bombers made the long trip home in frustration after letting the home side dictate the pace of the game and not generating a high-tempo from their big bench.

“We didn’t make the most of it and gave them easy ball form mistakes in transition far to often,” said Silas Voelcker-Benson. “They were able to settle very effectively, slow things down and play their driving game from X. It was very close so hopefully we’ll have the edge in the return fixture.”

Bristol entertain Purley this Saturday in what, even this early in the season, is of six-pointer significance.

The Wavey Show continues to roll for Hitchin with the Welsh wizard hitting four goals as a follow-up to his eight tally in the season opener as Welwyn felt the force in the Herts derby, going down 20-4.

Leach’s four-goal heroics were matched by Adam Grey with hat-tricks coming from Alan Croft, Mike Halliwell and Jonny Harry.

“It was a strange 1st quarter. We went 2-1 down and showed all the signs of imploding,” said Hitchin captain Rhodri Stanford, who called a time-out after 15 minutes to restructure the team. It worked and they closed Q1 5-2 up.

“On quite a few occasions we had to resort back to some rigid sets to maintain shape and composure as our free flowing game wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Throughout the game the D were brilliant, creating turnovers and plenty of possession for the offence, while playing with great control and composure.”

Warriors skipper George Breese added: “We were neck and neck for the opening 10min or so before they came away with it. We were missing our keeper and they dominated face-off but we did have some nice periods of movement on offence which is something to work on.”

Welwyn go to Hillcroft on Saturday in what is mini York University alumni showdown as both teams have three former Vikings in their ranks.

RESULTS
East Grinstead 12 – 7 Bristol Bombers
Hampstead 3 – 12 Spencer
Purley 5 – 10 Hillcroft
Reading 6 – 9 Blues
Welwyn 4 – 20 Hitchin

FIXTURES
Blues v East Grinstead
Bristol Bombers v Purley
Hillcroft v Welwyn
Hitchin v Spencer
Reading v Hampstead