Sheffield University Bankers’ first XI failed to capitalise on slip-ups for their promotion rivals, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by a lowly University of Durham side.
North Hockey League Premier Division leaders Oxton lost at Leeds, while second-placed Brooklands MU drew, but the Bankers still sit four points off the promotion places with two games to play.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the hosts, who started the game brightly but saw three golden opportunities come and go inside the first ten minutes.
But their failure to capitalise on the good start was punished on the 27-minute mark, as Durham broke away and took a surprise lead. Top scorer Drew Burkin was quickly on hand to level things up, finishing off a slick move from close range, but more poor defending soon meant his work was undone.
A green card meant the Bankers were temporarily playing with 10, and a long ball down the right caught the hosts napping, resulting in Durham retaking the lead just three minutes before the break.
An immensely frustrating second half followed, as the Bankers piled on the pressure but failed to take numerous golden chances.
Eight short corners came and went, with the Durham defence and goalkeeper impressively resilient throughout.
In the dying moments, tricky interplay in the circle opened up space for Oliver Large, who snatched a late equaliser, but it wasn’t enough for the Bankers to gain ground on their promotion rivals.
Though this was an opportunity lost, the Bankers’ management are adamant that all pre-season targets have already been well surpassed. A trip to Whitley Bay this weekend is a surely a must-win in terms of promotion hopes, with more than a curious eye sure to be cast on the Oxton and Brooklands results.
It was an outstanding weekend for the club in general though, with the men’s first and third strings the only Bankers’ sides which failed to win.
The second team were handed a 3-0 victory after an opposition pull-out, while there were 2-0 victories for the fourth, sixth, and seventh men’s teams.
The eye-catching performance came in the ladies’ second team game, as Helen Strudders scored her second hat-trick in succession to keep her side top.
Strudders and her teammates play Hallam at 1.30pm on Sunday, in a game which will see them promoted should they come out on top.