Newark entered into the last game of the season knowing they had already gained promotion out of the league but had still not sealed the league title - only a win would guarantee this.
The game started at a great pace with newark moving the ball around the park at pace, showing they wanted this league title. The chances started to come for Newark and they started to test the Atherstone keeper every time they came forward but were not able to find the back of the net, until Ryan Foster came charging in on the back post to deflect the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net. This only made Newark more determined to get further in front as they continued to press an Atherstone team who had not really got going yet. It did not take long for Newark to get a second when Foster appeared at the back post again to place the ball into the back of the net and put Newark 2-0 up.
Atherstone seemed to suddenly awaken at this point and made it difficult for Newark going forward and started to break down the flowing attacks that Newark had been showing in the opening 20 minutes and started creating chances of their own but were unable to find the Net even when Newark's keeper was left stranded at the edge of the D.
Leading into halftime Newark started to get back to grips with their attacking hockey and moved the ball again at pace but could not find the net again before half time.
The second half started quickly and Atherstone were pressing knowing a quick goal would test the Newark team and that's exactly what they got, scoring from a well worked short corner putting everyone down watching on edge, with the score at 2-1 but Newark quickly got back their two goal lead when Sam Smith found himself free in the D and fired the ball into the back of the net restoring Newark's two goal lead.
The game only a few moments later took another turn in Newark's favour when one of the Atherstone players found himself receiving a red card after a few choice words were mentioned to the umpire. This allowed Newark more time and space on the pitch and they exploited it well creating more and more chances but if it was not for some good work from the Atherstone keeper and the framework of the goal Newark would have increased their lead.
In the final few moments of the game Newark made a change and brought on coach Paul Halfpenny for him to be on the pitch at the end, this however was not the case for captain Alex Davies who decided to pick up a green card to stop a break away from Atherstone.
Newark held out and walked away 3-1 winners and were crowned league champions.
Goals: Ryan Foster x2, Sam Smith
Newark travelled to Chesterfield knowing anything less than a win ould see them relegated by the end of season. With only 11 players and 5 of those stuck in traffic on the way to game the math started 10 minutes late with hardly any warm up for most of Newark’s team.
However this didn’t seem to affect them too much and were soon putting Chesterfield under pressure. With good work from the midfield Kian Hunter passed to Simon Higgs who managed to avoid the on rushing keeper and played the ball into the goal of the defender on the line. This lead soon doubled after a run from Tom Jacob down the line recycled the ball back to Nigel Bett whose ball into the D took a slight deflection from Simon Higgs which put in between the keepers legs.
Whilst Newark had got the goals Chesterfield had been putting Newark’s defence under pressure but good work from the centre back partnership of James Barker and Ciaran Logue kept them at bay and anything they missed Ben Bradley in goal tidied up comfortably.
Things got better after good work again down the right flank between Tom Jacob and Nigel Bett saw Kian Hunter in space who calmly fired home his first goal for the 2nd team. This saw Newark take a 3 goal lead into half time.
Early in the 2nd half things turned around for Chesterfield with Steve Littlewood taking a stick to the head which required hospital treatment and several stitches. However this left Newark with only 10 players and the dynamic of the game changing. Newark still worked hard to go forward put from their attacking short corner Chesterfield counter attacked and scored their first goal which lifted their spirits and expectations from the game.
With their renewed sense of urgency Chesterfield continued to pile forward with Newark working hard to keep them at bay. Chesterfield continued to get short corners and from one of these they got their second goal and their intensity rose again. Newark continued to hold on with everyone working hard to make up the missing player.
Chesterfield got a penalty flick awarded after goal bound shot was stopped on the line by a Newark foot put Ben Bradley saved the flick giving Newark renewed hope they could hold out. At this point Chesterfield pulled their goal keeper to go with 11 outfield players to push for the equaliser. Unfortunately for Newark this was soon to come and Chesterfield put there keeper back in goal for the last few minutes knowing a draw for them could see them over take Newark in the league on the last match day weekend when they play bottom of the league Melton.
Goal Scorers: -Simon Higgs (2), Kian Hunter (1st for 2nd team)
Joint M.O.M:- Kian Hunter, Ben Bradley
Newark Ladies 1s, sponsored by Bingham Ground Services, took to the field Saturday seeking a much needed win against local rivals Southwell Brincliffe United. Following criticism from certain quarters the team were asked what their response will be and with promotion still available they responded well finishing with a comfortable 5-0 win.
Knowing that 3 points was desperately needed it looks like the game may have been too one-sided when the opposition turned up with only 9 players. Thankfully reinforcements turned up 10 minutes into the game to provide for an even game. Unfortunately Newark could not take advantage of the number difference but still created chances for themselves to break the deadlock. SBU worked hard to contain Newark in the first half and the break came with the score still at 0-0.
With playmaker Laura Donaldson marked throughout the game she was given a free licence to roam and this started to create the opportunities that Newark needed, and used this as an advantage.
The midfield of Amy Crouch and Hannah Coe flanked by Rosie Staniforth, Becky Wells and Amber Smith worked hard to contain SBU, turn the ball over and then attack in numbers. The deadlock was broken when Donaldson had a one on one with the keeper and managed to slot the ball away.
Wells working hard down the left flank combined with Donaldson for the second goal. And it was Wells again who took the advantage to score the third goal and forth goals. The first saw Staniforth working the ball from deep, then finding Millie Hill, recently returned from injury, who out stretched her legs to leave the defence flagging in her wake and found Wells ready and waiting. The second goal for Wells came from a circle melee, and the fifth goal came shortly afterwards and was typical of the side working hard to each other and again SWtaniforth and Hill combining well to find Donaldson alone in the circle and her shot was unstoppable.
An excellent return to form for Newark, three vital points that leaves them in a good position to continue the fight for promotion.
Newark Ladies 1s returned on Sunday for Notts Ladies Hockey League Cup semi final against fellow promotion seekers Manning HC. Having claimed victory in the league before Christmas the opposition have the upper hand but Newark knew that if they could steal a victory in the Cup then this would go some way to give in a psychological advantage in the teturned League fixture on the 1st of April.
The game started well for Newark when Hannah Coe fought hard for the ball to release Dani Ashwell down the right who crossed the ball into Laura Donaldson on hand to open the scoring. A great start for Newark but celebrations was short lived when Manning hit straight back to even the match up. Newark continued their moving and passing from the day before and with fresh legs from some of the team who were unavailable the previous day, they took the game to Manning and managed to get back the lead following a penalty corner and once again Donaldson stepping up to slot the ball home.
Manning were not to be out done and again hit back with a fabulous strike which left keeper George Barratt picking the ball out of the back of the net. Barratt though had the last laugh as she had a fabulous game and was rewarded with player of the match and kept Manning at bay during the many assaults on the Newark goal.
Newark ramped up the pressure and the resulting forays into the Manning circle saw them rewarded with penalty corner after penalty corner. In recent weeks the penalty corner routines have been quite slow for Newark however following the victory the previous day efforts were made to sharpen the set piece up and this was rewarded.
Kate Lambert stepped up to strike the ball straight down the middle to give Newark back the lead. Then Donaldson hit her second hat-trick of the weekend and then added another following good work by Lambert. Newark led 5-2 at the break.
Manning were not going to leave it there and although on paper game looked like it was over Newark had a long 35 minutes to contain the opposition. Barratt was in action again early in the second half and certainly earnt her player vote however a dubiously given free hit outside the home circle saw a quick free hit reach a Manning player and given this opportunity they did not they did not miss.
The game was very end-to-end, players were getting very tired and mistakes were being made. During one of the breakaways for Manning the home side dealt with the counter attack but did not clear properly and the ball fell for a Manning player to hit back. With the game at 5-4 in Newark favour it looks like the advantage was with Manning however time was against them.
The home side held on for the victory and advance to the cup final later in April and look forward to the third instalment against Manning in the final League match which could be the deciding game for league promotion.
Newark Ladies' 3's played host to South Notts knowing that a win would secure promotion. Newark started strong, utilising the width of the pitch and putting their training into practice. Defenders Rachel Spolton, Sue Birkett and Hannah Bond moved the ball around the back and up to Tash Gresswell and Laura McMunn on the wings. They both showed their speed, taking the ball up when opportunity allowed and passing back to Emily Crisp when needed.
The first goal came as the ball was passed through midfield by Jacky Nullis on to Ann Crockett-McLean. She took a shot on goal that came off the keeper's pads but Tash was right in for the rebound and struck home. South Notts fought back and nearly equalised, but a fantastic slide from Freya Grocock in goal thwarted their efforts.
Shortly after, midfielder Sara Jackson made a quick pass to Izzy Wells and Ann was found in the D to slip the ball past the keeper again. Before the half time whistle, more excellent passing allowed Ann to take on the keeper 1:1 but her shot was wide of the mark.
The second half saw South Notts struggle with team politics and their heads went down. Newark capitalised, with Louise Goodman keeping South Notts' key player marked. As the ball was moved into the D, a strike from Izzy once again came off the keeper but this time it was Maddie Horrocks who picked up the rebound and took Newark 3 goals ahead.
Play evened out briefly with defence and midfield working hard but South Notts were unable to get the ball through for a shot. Newark moved the ball back up and yet another shot came straight off the keeper, with Maddie finalising the win, scooping the ball up into the net.
Newark found their team training paid off and secured promotion for next season. With 3 matches to go, the battle for top place is still on.
Player: Maddie Horrocks