Harrogate hockey vice-captain Will Rogers was left feeling “baffled and frustrated” as his side’s mini revival came to an end 4-3 at Neston South Wirral last weekend.
Missing no fewer than six regular squad members, including captain Graeme Bevington and Barbados international Alex Gill, ‘Gate travelled with a bare 11 players but saw their hosts clinch a controversial victory in the dying moments.
The result means that Harrogate remain seventh in North Division One and they now welcome Newcastle University this weekend (12.00pm).
The students have won their last five games and climbed to fourth as they mount a mid-season promotion push.
Rogers said: “Newcastle University are in good form and it should be a high-quality game of hockey. It’s a shame our little unbeaten run has come to and end but we now have two home games to get some momentum going ahead of the Christmas break.”
Against Neston, ‘Gate took time to settle and ‘keeper Rob Stanworth was forced into a number of short corner saves. However, Josh Lyon gave ‘Gate something to cling on to with a tap in after a driving run from veteran Peter Shipston.
A slick counter attack and a deflected short corner put the Wirral side ahead, but ‘Gate fought back superbly with goals from Joe Horne and Shipston.
However, with ‘Gate reduced to ten men because of injury, Neston grabbed a controversial equaliser. A shot hit Stu Norman, before bouncing off the umpire to leave a simple tap in for the onrushing striker.
Coming just minutes after Harrogate had a goal disallowed, the decision proved hard to take and the visitors then conceded a fourth goal which the umpire deemed to have narrowly crossed the line.
“I was baffled at the umpire’s decision to award their third goal,” said Rogers. “I have never been involved in a game where the ball has hit the umpire and fallen into the path of an onrushing attacker to tap in. It is a part of the game we have to accept but had our second goal been awarded, it would have been game over.”
It was a far better weekend for Harrogate’s ladies, as they gave themselves breathing space from the relegation places with a 2-1 win over Didsbury Greys. They then put their name in the hat for the Investec Women’s Trophy third round with a 3-1 win at Durham City.
This weekend they welcome Longridge to Granby (1.30pm push back).