Sheffield University Bankers’ seconds continued their excellent form with a 4-0 victory over Morpeth last weekend - but only after goalkeeper George Wright’s virtuoso display.
The Bankers’ stopper was in inspired form, as he made three superb one-on-one saves inside the first 20 minutes to deny the visitors.
But, thankfully for the hosts, Wright’s excellence at one end was soon matched at the other, as the Bankers weathered the storm and grabbed the game by the scruff of its neck.
The deadlock was broken on 21 minutes, as Tom Hawthorne converted from a short corner to demoralise lowly Morpeth. Though the away side created more chances towards the end of the first half, the Bankers had the game much more under control, and sealed the victory after the break.
James Cozens scored his first of two goals just four minutes into the second period, tucking away from close range after a melee in the Morpeth circle to make it 2-0.
The hosts came under some more pressure and Ed Haynes was forced to clear off the line, before Sam Bromage’s powerful reverse-stick drive made it three and put the game to bed.
Cozens scored his second with just one minute left on the clock to make it 4-0 – a scoreline which perhaps flattered the hosts.
The win puts the Bankers up to third in the North Hockey League Division One (East), and though promotion is now a mathematical impossibility this season, the huge improvement on last year makes it an achievable 2017 target.
Meanwhile, results elsewhere soured what was a convincing 6-2 victory for the first XI at Timperley.
Wins for Oxton and Brooklands meant that achieving promotion becomes that much harder for the Bankers, who must close a four-point gap to second with just three games to play.
The win itself was thumping, with the Bankers threatening at one stage to reach double figures against relegation-threatened Timperley, though the pressures of a promotion race were perhaps evident, with plenty of work for the officials in a bad-tempered affair.
Nick Fletcher and Drew Burkin each notched a brace to take the game away from their hosts, with James Wright and Matthew Fergusson completing the scoring for the promotion hopefuls.
Discipline does concern the management though, who are aware that silly cards can result in needless suspensions with promotion to the North Conference still a possibility.
The Bankers’ ladies second team were awarded a 3-0 victory, after Huddersfield pulled out of the fixture, and face a title decider with Hallam on March 6.