Harrogate Hockey remain on course for a creditable third place finish in their first season back in North Division One after coming through a tough test against Urmston.
Luke Lambert’s side, who were boosted by the return of six regulars missing from the week before, ran out 5-1 winners and now travel to bottom of the table Preston this Saturday (1.30pm push back) in search of a further three points.
Harrogate moved up to fourth spot in the league with their victory and are two points behind Sheffield Bankers, who face the two promoted sides Bowdon and Formby in their remaining games.
In front of the biggest crowd Granby Hockey Centre had seen this season Harrogate were quickly into their side against Urmston as they attempted to nullify their opponents’ aggressive style.
The returning Steve Couture gave the hosts the perfect start from a well-worked short corner routine, before David Swarbrick then got a touch on another set piece inside the opening 20 minutes.
Gate wasted a number of one-on-ones with the Urmston goalkeeper in good form.
Couture then turned on the style and completed a silky run from the half-way line with a fierce shot into the bottom corner before Urmston’s former Wales international got his side back into the fixture.
The second half stated in the same vein with Gate pressing forward and Couture was denied one of the goals of the season after a neat turn and strike was saved, only for skipper Lambert to poke the ball home.
The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for full-back James Redman, who got on the scoresheet in the final ten minutes after finding himself in the opposition D.
“Urmston, rightly, decided to use intimidatory tactics in order to try and get on the front foot against us, but thankfully we were able to rise above this and take control of the game,” said Lambert.
“We defended superbly, negating the threat of their one outstanding player, and were clinical in open play and from set pieces.
“We look forward to visiting Preston on Saturday and I hope they put out a strong side to provide a good challenge for us,” added the captain, who lists Preston among his former clubs.
Harrogate ladies’ fine form in the second half of the season continued last week as they beat lowly Bolton 3-2 away from home.
They host Newcastle University on Saturday (1.30pm push back) in their final game at Granby this season.