Spartans got their season back on track with two improved performances over the weekend but unfortunately it yielded two points from a possible four.
On Saturday, Solway Sharks were the visitors and despite a short bench they put in a credible performance from which it was hard to argue that they didn’t deserve their win. There was a lot of positivity from Spartans in what was a pretty even first twenty minutes although the better chances had fallen to Sharks. However one chance found its way into the back of the net when Steve Adams’s shot took a deflection past Brandon Stones to give Sharks a slender one goal lead going into the second period.
As encouraging as the first period was for Spartans, the second saw us slip back into bad ways that which handed the initiative to Sharks who capitalised on 23.42 through Struan Tonnar to make it 2-0. It took a while for Spartans to come back into the game but they did, managing a couple of decent efforts which were unfortunate to find the net, most notably Will Barron’s effort that struck the post but it wasn’t enough to seriously threaten Sharks.
It could have been a far worse state of play for Spartans but they approached the final twenty with a more upbeat tempo and were given a boost when Stuart Brittle reduced the deficit on 23.43. Spartans finished the game strongly but sensible defending from Solway saw them home to claim a 2-1 victory with a solid performance. Spartans Man of the Match went to Ross Jordan who had an impressive game on his return from injury.
Sunday saw Whitley Warriors take to the ice for our second home game of the weekend with Spartans keen to improve on a disappointing performance away last week to the same opposition that resulted in a 6-0 loss. Spartans were in determined mood, even more so after Warriors Alan Yarrow’s unprovoked attack on Stevie Weeks during the warm up. That mood was more than evident in what was an excellent game of hockey which saw Spartans run out deserved 2-1 winners. A quick fire unassisted goal from Ollie Barron on 1.29 settled Spartans nerves but Warriors drew level with a well worked powerplay goal put away by Jamie Tinsley on 5.09. It was an exciting end to end game with both teams creating worthwhile chances to add to their score but as the period drew towards its conclusion Warriors were on top and had Spartans on the ropes but an inspired performance between the pipes from Andy Bagshaw, including an incredible double save, ensured it was all square after the first.
Spartans were arguably the better team in the second period, playing some nice hockey in the process but the threat remained from Warriors with it being clear as to why they have made such a good start to the season under David Longstaff. So it was also with a sense of relief when Scott Morris scored a nice goal timed 29.11, assisted Nick Manning & Elliott Knell. Spartans enjoyed a good spell after their goal but couldn’t add to the score line as Whitley hit back to once again finish the period strongly but Spartans defence was equal to what Warriors threw at them.
Spartans held a slight advantage in that it was 2-1 in their favour with the game there to be taken for either team and as with the previous two periods it was end to end stuff. Andy Bagshaw was the busier of the two keepers with Warriors unlucky not to equalise on a couple of occasions but it wasn’t all one way traffic with Spartans going agonisingly close on a couple of occasions but as the game drew to its conclusion Spartans looked more and more in control and were playing with confidence as they saw the game out to claim an impressive victory against a very good team. Andy
Bagshaw was Spartans Man of the Match which was thoroughly deserved in a game where every Spartans player played their part.
It is sometimes easy to over analyse things but despite the loss on Saturday there were a lot of positives which were taken forward into the next game on Sunday against an in-form team, built upon and thrown into the mix to result in a gritty, spirited competent performance from start to finish for what has been without doubt our best weekend of the season to date.
Spartans 1 – Solway Sharks 2 (Saturday)
Spartans 2 – Whitley Warriors 1 (Sunday)