Spencer were put through the grinder by Hillcroft as the champions elect stuttered on the title run in.
This was inked in as a danger fixture in the Earlsfield clubhouse and they were right to fear their Tooting neighbours who brought their A-game and nearly upended the leaders.
Hillcroft were irresistible and took a deserved 5-3 win at the end of the 1st Quarter running the talent-laden Sparrows ragged.
But Spencer were determined to keep their 100% record and charged back to clear one of the main remaining hurdles of the 14/15 season with a 15-10 win.
It was the most they have conceded all season and demonstrates the potential at Hillcroft who had disappointed in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
“They are obviously the team to measure yourself against in our league and I feel like we actually competed unlike the first time we met,” said captain Eoin Dunne.
“We got off to a great start playing a great overall team game but in Q2 Spencer did what champions elect do and were extremely clinical in delivering a 7-0 quarter which should have killed the game right there and then. They came up with a lot of possession when it mattered and were faultless in front of goal.”
Hillcroft refused to lie down and drew the 3rd Quarter 1-1 before trading goals in a 4-5 final quarter with Dunne and Brian Potter grabbing hat-tricks and Zak Jordan firing in a brace.
“It was a fun and fast game to play in and a massive step in the right direction for us as a team and a club,” added Dunne. “To give them a competitive game gives us a real impetus with a view to challenging next season.”
Hillcroft had gutsy performances from their defensive midfielders with Aaron Fox tireless from start to finish and Tony Ackers, making his Premier League debut in goal, adapted well to the pace of the top tier.
Spencer co-captain Tom Leahy commended Hillcroft and commented: “They were much improved and their organization took us by surprise in the first 20 minutes.”
Spencer’s bounce back was impressive with LDO Eddie Vita and Tom Roche leading the way.
“Hillcroft did not give in and this was certainly one of the best games we have played this year,” added Leahy. “Victory here has meant we are in a great position to win the league and it was the perfect practice for our fast approaching Flags semi versus Hampsted’.”
Spencer have just four games to negotiate to the league title and their biggest obstacle remains second-placed Blues who enjoyed a 32-1 win over a weakened Welwyn.
Despite their dominance, Spencer will have no chance of easing up, as they don’t visit Blues until the final game of the season. Blues do have a tougher run-in and entertain a Hitchin side this Saturday that is capable of getting a win.
Welwyn had dismal day after losing their keeper at half-time on top of having thin availability against Blues. Skipper George Breese was defiant: “The season isn’t set to go away yet and there’s still time for a comeback. My aim is as simple as it was in September, play good lacrosse, get better as a team and win those key games.”
Purley benefitted from Hampstead’s see-saw availability to claim a walkover but, as the Men in Black had to concede against Welwyn earlier in the season, the result does not skew the relegation fight too much.
Reading came away from East Grinstead with a 15-7 win which puts them in 3rd while the Sussex club and Bristol stay just ahead of the drop zone.
Bristol P – P Hitchin
East Grinstead 7 – 15 Reading
Hillcroft 10 – 16 Spencer
Purley 10 – 0 Hampstead
Welwyn 1 – 32 Blues
Bristol Bombers v Hillcroft
East Grinstead v Spencer
Hampstead v Welwyn (1:00pm)
Reading v Purley
Blues v Hitchin
Photo Credit: Hillcroft Lacrosse Club (Facebook Page)