Chesterfield Hockey Club's survival hopes are boosted by five-star Sandoval

A five star display from Mexican hot shot Alex Sandoval saw Chesterfield keep their survival hopes alive in spectacular fashion on Saturday, writes Christian Battye.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 7:38 am

Up against mid table Harrogate in sweltering heat, Chesterfield produced a scintillating performance in which Sandoval was the star of the show with all five goals.

As ever, Chesterfield were happy to pick and choose their moments and countered at pace whenever the chance presented itself.

After absorbing sustained pressure, the away side took a 1-0 lead when Ben Curley laid the ball on for Sandoval to fire home.

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Man-of-the-match Alex Sandoval scored all five in Chesterfield's win. Pic by Chris Moores.

Number two followed after an excellent combination involving debutant Zach Scothern and Joe Giltrow set up Sandoval to convert from close range.

The home side then deservedly pulled one back just before the interval.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, with the possession based style of Harrogate contrasting with the counter attacking approach of Chesterfield.

After riding out a good spell from the hosts, Chesterfield snatched number three when Ryan Speed squared the ball for Sandoval to complete his hat trick.

Dan Molloy then assisted the Mexican for goal number four, before Sandoval added a fine solo goal at the death.

Coach Christian Battye was clearly pleased with the afternoon, adding: “It was a really satisfying win, mainly because they made it so hard for us.

"We soaked up a lot of pressure and had long spells out of possession. 5-1 doesn’t tell the whole story and we know we are in for a very tough game next week.

“There were so many positives for us, obviously Alex bagging five goals is a great achievement but the whole team deserve credit.

"We had a couple playing through injuries today, but they rolled their sleeves up and got on with it. Everyone dug in and showed immense character.

“All we can do is focus on what we have to do. We can’t worry about what other teams may or may not do.

"It’s in our hands and that’s all we could have asked for at the start of the season. We have two massive games left but we have to enjoy and embrace the pressure.”

Wins elsewhere for Sheffield Bankers and Newcastle University meant Chesterfield finished the day second bottom, but with all three teams sitting on 21 points - and three set to go down - the battle to avoid the drop looks set to go to the wire.

The situation is further complicated with Durham University having completed their season with 24 points, who will also be keeping a close eye on the remaining games.

In a reverse of Saturday, Chesterfield play host to Harrogate next week before travelling to Newcastle University on the final day of the season - in what could be a winner takes all encounter.