HOCKEY: First 2020 success for top St Neots side and vital victory for the leading St Ives men
- Credit: Archant
St Neots 1sts collected their first East Men’s League success of 2020 last Saturday.
They triumphed 2-1 at Ely City 1sts in an all-Cambridgeshire clash thanks to goals from Oli Dawes and Nathan Reed.
Dawes provided an early breakthrough when robbing a defender and finishing well - and he then turned provider for Reed to double the advantage.
Saints were twice denied further goals when hitting the post and more good chances went begging in the second half.
And they had to survive a nervy final few minutes after Ely halved their arrears before being able to pocket the points to ease nine points clear of the Division Three North-West drop-zone.
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And it was a good day for St Neots 2nds as they climbed to the top of the Division Five North-West standings.
Phil Gentles struck twice with Chris Butterworth and Danny Stevenson also finding the net in a 4-1 win at Spalding 4ths.
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But St Neots 4ths remain bottom of Division Six North-West (South) following a 5-1 derby defeat at St Ives 4ths.
Young prospect David Jack scored the opener for the St Ives side in that game with John Bowles adding a penalty flick before St Neots hit back.
St Ives goalkeeper Owen Bigwood then saved a penalty stroke before they regained control with Josh Bigwood, James Cahill and David Kellett sealing victory.
Another St Ives/St Neots derby at that level - involving the Ives 5ths and Neots 3rds - was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.
Elsewhere, St Ives 1sts boosted their Division Two North survival hopes with a vital victory.
They recovered from a poor start, in which they fell 2-0 down, to triumph 7-3 at fellow strugglers Dereham 2nds.
George McCarter and Garth Mooney dragged the locals level before Ben Hildrey flicked them ahead on the stroke of half-time.
And they continued to kick on in the second half when Mooney doubled his tally before Darren Coles slid in to strike at the back post.
McCarter than added the final two goals to complete a hat-trick of breakaway efforts before the hosts claimed a late consolation.
Tom Smith's goal was not enough to prevent a 4-1 defeat for St Ives 2nds at the hands of March Town 1sts in Division Three North-West, while the 3rds were thumped 7-1 by Cambridge Nomads 2nds in Division Four North-West. Tristan Johnstone was their scorer.