Spencer are going full tilt at the record books as they close on a 100% season with just three games to go.
The Earlsfield side swept aside an under-strength East Grinstead 17-2 to chalk up their 15th straight league win and send their goals tally hurtling towards the 250 mark.
The high water mark in recent SEMLA history was Purley’s 2002 win-fest when they achieved a League and Flags double scoring an average 16.2 goals per league game while only conceding at 2.46.
Spencer stand imperiously at 16.06 to 3.26 and in sight of a clean sweep for the first time in the club’s history. Kenton, one of the two clubs that merged to form Spencer, won all 18 games back in 1997 to claim their third title in a row while, in a moment of almost sweet synchronicity, Beckenham – the other team in the marriage – won 17 from 18 as they took the Division 1 crown.
They will need to go some to bust the 300 goal barrier that was broken three times each by Hampstead and Lee, based in Orpington, back in the carefree 1970s – many retired goalies will still be having nightmares about the ‘Lee Machine’ which cranked in 344 goals at an average of 20.2 goals per game while conceding 38 at 2.2 per game in 1974.*
Stats mean nothing when the whistle blows and Spencer know they need to hold focus for three games including the final day showdown at Blues who would relish ripping the page out of the record books.
The Banstead boys had keeper Stuart McGregor Dallas to thank for a 9-4 victory chiselled from an ill-disciplined game, which featured James Kidd on the naughty step after getting fouled out of the game.
Matt Birkett and Rhod Stanford had an engrossing face-off duel that was running even before the Hitchin skipper fractured his thumb.
“The game swung back and forth and, although they were missing a few players, they made us work hard for the win,” said Blues captain Dave Cluney. “We picked up a lot of penalties and had to play a three man zone at one stage. But a bad day for their offense and a stellar game from Stuart, who was a clear MVP, gave us the edge.”
The teams were 3-3 at half time but Blues’ extra depth gave them most possession and they were able to establish supremacy as the game wore on.
“Whilst I’m disappointed at the number of penalties we gave away, I’m also proud of how every one of the guys applied themselves to finish the 2nd half of the game on a stronger note than the first,” added Cluney. “It shows a real
character in the squad that we’ve been trying to grow over the last few seasons.”
Stanford, who is out for 4-6 weeks, added: “We made some good chances but
our finishing let us down again, messing up a string of doorstep finishes. And, even though we were level at half time, we never really looked like pushing Blues all the way.
“Defensively again we were strong, putting in a solid performance against a top side. We gave ourselves a fighting chance but only travelled with 11 and Blues were always going to start running away with it when our legs started to go.”
Hillcroft followed up their great showing against Spencer with a 13-3 win at Bristol.
“It is good to get a result at somewhere that can be a tricky away trip for teams,” said captain Eoin Dunne. “We played consistently well across the 80 minutes scoring some nice team goals and not feeling the journey too much early on.
“Credit to Bristol who fought throughout and managed to pick up two fourth quarter goals due to their tenacity and playing till the end. They would appear to too good for relegation and one would hope the results go their way and they pull clear from the battle in the coming weeks.”
Zak Jordan scored four with Dunne and Duncan Trenholme getting three goals each while the D men got hot with John Goodwin notching two assists and James Prescott going to coast to coast to score.
Purley came up just short at Reading but are gathering momentum and all their experience as they go into the final three games starting with a crunch match-up against East Grinstead.
“It was a close game that we know we should have got some points from; some individual poor moments in both attack and defence undermined some good stuff that we were playing,” said captain Dave Copple. “Reading were just a bit more clinical than us and took the opportunities when they were given.
“With EG just above us in the league, this weekend is obviously going to be important. The first game in November was really close and they only won it in the last few minutes. We’re expecting the same again on Saturday.”
It is one of a string of crucial fixtures this weekend with Welwyn hunting vital points against Reading and Blues facing a testing trip to Tooting to face Hillcroft in a ‘day-night’ clash on 3G.
Hampstead, who beat the Warriors 27-4, travel to Hitchin while Spencer entertain the Bombers.
* Lee won the league ten times on the bounce from 1966 to 1975 and won the Flags six out of seven years from 1968 to 75. They also won the Iroquois Cup in 1970.
Bristol Bombers 3 – 13 Hillcroft
Spencer 17 -2 East Grinstead
Hampstead 27 – 4 Welwyn
Reading 8 – 5 Purley
Blues 9 -4 Hitchin
Hillcroft v Blues
Hitchin v Hampstead
Purley v East Grinstead
Spencer v Bristol Bombers
Welwyn v Reading