Chesterfield blow hockey league title race wide open with key win
A double from Jack Hartley made the difference as Chesterfield blew the title race wide open with a superb victory at Telford and Wrekin.
Chesterfield triumphed 2-1 to leapfrog their rivals in Division Two of the Midland Men’s Hockey League.
Now, only two points separate the top three teams, with the new leaders being Olton and West Warwick 2nd, whom Christian Battye’s boys face next.
Player/coach Battye said: “We knew we had to adjust how we played against Telford because they are a top side and our record at their place has been poor.
“Therefore, it was a massive win, especially considering it was the first time our back four or five on the day had played together.
“This week against Olton is obviously a big game too but, whatever the result, we have now put ourselves in a fantastic position.”
Adding merit to the win at Telford was the fact that Chesterfield had a list of absentees because injuries and suspension.
Five first-team regulars were out, meaning call-ups for goalkeeper Will Murphy, making his first appearance of the season, and full-back Joe Scott, making his first start for more than two years.
The first half was cagey, but Chesterfield had the best of the play and took a deserved lead when Hartley kept a cool head to finish from close range.
Hartley, brilliantly supported by fellow forwards Joe Green and Dan Molloy, kept Telford on their toes all game.
However, going a goal down roused the hosts and they drew level with a powerful strike from Dave Tracey from the top of the circle just before half-time.
The second half was a gripping tactical battle, with Telford enjoying the lion’s share of the possession and Chesterfield looking to play on the break.
The visitors dominated midfield, though, thanks to mature displays from 18-year-old duo Harvey Bessell and Josh Beardsley, backed up by another energetic performance from 17-year-old Joe Morton.
Telford struggled to break down a resolute backline and as they committed men forward, Chesterfield caught them with the winner on a fast counter. Arriving unmarked at the far post, Hartley swept the ball into the net to spark wild celebrations.
The man-of-the-match award went to Tom Bacon, although Tasmanian import Aiden Van Staden produced a stellar performance.