Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1sts suffered a second defeat on the bounce when they lost out to Newcastle University 1sts at Ainsty Road.
The students went into the game with just a single North Division One win to their name, but emerged victorious by a 3-1 scoreline, leaving ‘Gate fourth in the league standings.
Rachel Till’s team struggled in the first half of Saturday’s contest, losing the ball in key areas and allowing the visitors to capitalise on a stretched field.
Lucky not to be down to 10 players following some over-zealous defending, Harrogate found themselves under a great deal of pressure as Newcastle won a succession of short-corners.
The hosts defended these well, however, only to see the University side take the lead just before half-time when their striker broke free and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal.
After the break, ‘Gate began to play with more confidence and Megan Clark picked up a lose ball in Newcastle territory and took it around the goalkeeper with ease to equalise.
Despite getting back on terms, Till’s charges struggled with the students’ physicality and soon found themselves under pressure again.
Goalkeeper Caz Hirst made some cruical one-on-one saves to keep her side in the game, but the visitors eventually re-took the lead on the counter-attack.
A third strike followed shortly afterwards from a short-corner, leaving Newcastle in control and they managed to see the game out to take the points.
Harrogate Ladies 2nds also went down to a second loss in as many games, losing out 4-1 on the road at Dewsbury 1sts.
In the first half, ‘Gate were unable to convert circle pressure into chances or penalty corners.
Dewsbury were heavily reliant on the long ball to attack the away circle, and good work by the visiting defence and goalkeeper Maddy Boocock ensured that the hosts were afforded few clear-cut opportunities. The home side did eventually edge ahead, however, and took a 1-0 advantage into the interval.
‘Gate went on to produce a much-improved second-half performance and were unlucky not to get a point from the game.
Sian Simpson once again proved a thorn in defenders’ sides with her speed and skill and Harrogate’s equaliser came from her determined run into the right hand-side of the circle.
Simpson’s pass across the circle dropped to Rachel Clarke who made no mistake, firing the ball past the Dewsbury custodian.
Their goal visibly boosted the away team and they went 2-1 up from a penalty-corner when Rachel Armstrong deflected Kathryn Patchett’s slap into the top corner.
The lead was short lived though and Dewsbury managed to net an equaliser from a penalty-corner of their own.
Harrogate had chances to get their noses back in front with the contest tied at 2-2, but the West Yorkshire side displayed the more clinical finishing, moving ahead and then adding a fourth goal to wrap things up in the closing stages.
The Ladies 3rds were held to a 1-1 home draw by Tadcaster Magnets 1sts.
‘Gate started the match strongly and put plenty of pressure on the visitors’ goal, only to be denied by the Magnets’ keeper pulling off some great saves.
A break from Tadcaster was then channelled to the left of the D, but a cross found its way into the danger zone and although an initial strike was saved, the rebound was stuck away by a Tadcaster forward.
At the other end, the hosts continued to pile on the pressure and a sideline ball from Sarah Parker-Walton to Margret Pimley set up a swift attack that was ended by Abi Laura to tie the scores before half-time.
Harrogate began the second period on top, but the Magnets came back into the game and there were no more goals as the sides cancelled each other out after the break.
Harrogate 4ths lost out 3-1 at Batley 1sts.