Harrogate Hockey Club Men head into Christmas break top of the pile despite derby draw

Action from Harrogate Hockey Club Mens 1s' derby clash with Ben Rhydding. Picture: Adrian Murray
Action from Harrogate Hockey Club Mens 1s' derby clash with Ben Rhydding. Picture: Adrian Murray

Harrogate Hockey Club Mens 1s’ perfect home record was ended by local rivals Ben Rhydding, but they still head into the Christmas break top of the league.

Tom Harris’ men had won each of their previous five home fixtures on their way to the North Division One summit.

They did however have to settle for just a point fromSaturday’s derby showdown at Ainsty Road, their visitors recovering from 3-1 down to grab a share of the spoils.

It was ‘Gate’s 16-year-old ace Alfie Weaver who again opened the scoring for the home team, a trademark drag-flick flying past the Ben Rhydding goalkeeper, who was left grasping at thin air.

Both team then enjoyed spells of possession in a high-quality affair that had plenty of drama but not much festive cheer, with both sides losing players to the sin-bin.

The away side restored parity from their first short-corner of the day, a thunderous slap-hit finding the backboard.

Harrogate responded well and Harry Henderson won his team a second short corner after finding a Ben Rhydding foot and this was converted by Charles Edmondson before the half-time whistle arrived.

Harris’ troops then grasped control of the game just a couple of minutes in to the second period thanks to another stunning effort from Weaver, who gave the visiting custodian no chance from another short-corner.

Ben Rhydding did however manage to fight back, making the most of a pair of set-pieces of their own.

First a powerful effort from the top of the ‘D’ following a controversial short-corner beat Rob Stanworth, before a penalty-stroke was rightly awarded and then dispatched.

The final 10 minutes were end-to-end, with both sides going close to taking the lead, with Harrogate’s vociferous home support treated to an exciting spectacle on a cold winter’s day.

A Weaver drag-flick struck the bar and Will Rogers was denied by a good save following a swift counter-attacking move involving skipper Harris and Edmondson.

Andy Clemerson was next to be denied by the Rhydding keeper, who got down to keep out a clever effort, but in the end the spoils were shared.