Hockey: Harrogate hammer Preston to climb table

Steve Couture scored twice for Harrogate
Steve Couture scored twice for Harrogate

Harrogate climbed back up to fifth spot in North Hockey One after thumping Preston 7-1 in their own back yard on Saturday.

Steve Couture and Gonzalo Ayala scored braces as Harrogate ran riot against a side despite horrific playing conditions with the effects of Storm Gurtrude.

In front of a partisan crowd, Harrogate started the brighter, with Ayala going close from a short corner before Joe Horne struck the post with a fierce effort.

The away side were then awarded a fortuitous penalty stroke, which was dispatched confidently by Andrew Clemerson.

Preston grew into the game and created a number of chances, but were thwarted by Harrogate’s stubborn goalkeeper Rob Stanworth on each occasion.

Harrogate started the second half on the front foot and were soon in the ascendency.

Crowd favourite Harry Henderson calmed any nerves with a simple back post finish before Steve Couture capitalised on a Preston error to make it three.

A ruthless counter attack saw Ayala finish confidently before Lambert’s reverse stick strike found the bottom corner.

Preston were now under inexorable pressure and they wilted. Ayala and the impressive Couture added one more goal each before Preston scored a consolation at the death.

Captain Will Rogers said: "I thought it was an excellent performance, particularly the second half where we put the game to bed with some clinical finishing.

"The first half was a close run affair but our fantastic start to the second period enabled us to control the rest of the match.

"It’s good to see our forwards amongst the goals and their confidence should be high ahead of Saturday’s tricky game against Newcastle University."

Newcastle are one place above Gate having collected seven more points from one game fewer.

The North East student side head to Granby Park for a 1.30pm start.

Meanwhile. Harrogate Ladies first team went down 2-0 at home to league leading Wakefield 2nds.

Harrogate remain seventh in North Hockey Division One and travel to fourth placed Ben Rhydding 2nds this weekend (11.30am start).