Chesterfield Hockey Club go down to runaway leaders Warwick
Chesterfield's five game unbeaten run came to an end with a 4-1 loss at already-promoted Warwick.
The hosts took all three points but were made to work hard by a dogged display from the visitors from Derbyshire, who have only lost twice in 2016.
The scoreline was perhaps harsh on Chesterfield; although Warwick are worthy champions and have the opportunity to complete an unbeaten campaign if they can avoid defeat on the last day of the season.
With both sides in a rich vein of form coming into the game it was always going to be a lively affair.
The hosts struck first after a long ball caught the Chesterfield defence on the back foot, which allowed centre forward Martyn Stickley to squeeze a shot low into the near corner for his 30th goal of the season.
A second followed soon after, this time Dave Bryce shot low into the net from the top of the circle.
Chesterfield rallied and began to play themselves into the game.
Adam Bointon twisted and turned but saw his shot hit the side netting when it looked easier to score.
Jon Moores saw a penalty corner well saved but the Warwick defence held on to take a 2-0 lead into half time.
The second period saw a much improved Chesterfield begin to cause the league leaders problems and it was perhaps against the run of play when Warwick struck their third and fourth goals.
Bryce got his second of the game with a precise flick low into the corner to make it three.
Stickley then claimed his second with a finish from close range to leave the visitors trailing 4-0. Chesterfield remained composed however and were able to open up the Warwick defence.
Great work from Bointon set up Tasos Varsamidis to score from close range, giving the away side some hope.
A second almost followed when Chris Battye picked out Andy Hodgson on the far post, only to see his effort saved when a goal looked certain.
Chesterfield continued to press and were rewarded with a penalty stoke after an infringement in the circle.
With a 100 per cent record from the spot this season Billy Fouflias was left reeling when he saw his effort crash back off the post to kill off any chance of a late Chesterfield comeback.
Skipper Chris Battye reflected afterwards, saying: “Our attitude was exactly right today and I thought we deserved something from the game.
“Make no mistake, Warwick are a very good side and fully deserve to be champions but I thought we caused them real problems.
“The improvements we have made since Christmas have been immense and we now look like a side that can challenge next year.
Chesterfield host Old Silhilians next Saturday in their final match of the season, 1.30pm at St Mary’s school.