Sheffield Spartans faced a tricky weekend with an away trip up to Scotland to take on league leaders Solway Sharks followed by a home game on the Sunday against Manchester Minotaurs who are known for springing the odd surprise against us. However two gritty performances ensured a healthy points return to keep our play-off bid alive!!!
Spartans pulled of a shock but fair and fully deserved 2-2 draw in Dumfries against table topping Solway Sharks in what was an end to end and exciting game on Saturday night. Ollie Barron had put Spartans in front with a great goal assisted Tom Parkinson on 08.31; only for Juraj Senko to score an equally impressive goal after some great work from Robert Chalmers timed 9.08. There was no let-up in the pace or nature of the game in the second period but it was Sharks who went into the lead through Struan Tonnar on 23.29 with Jordan Henderson claiming the assist. Both teams had their chances, Sharks the more numerically but the better ones falling to Spartans who deservedly pulled one back to make it 2-2 on 33.14. After some sustained pressure James Maughan squeezed his shot through, taking a slight deflection on the way to leave Russell in Sharks goal no chance. Spartans had a couple of good chances to actually snatch the lead but good defending from Solway ensured that the game was tied at 2-2 at the end of the second. Chances were still being created by both teams but as the game went on, Sharks got stronger and stronger but couldn’t get past a well drilled Spartans defence who were also thankful to some great saves from Brad Day in goal to keep the score level. Sharks did find the net with just 48 seconds left on the clock but the goal was washed out. In fairness the referee had blown up a few seconds before the puck had crossed the line with only the odd token of protest from the Solway players. It made for a tense face-off but nothing came of it and the game ended in a 2-2draw, which on reflection was a fair result; Stevie Moore for Solway and Spartans Brad Day were awarded the Man of the Match for their respective teams.
So to Sunday as Spartans faced a different challenge in the form of Manchester Minotaurs at Ice Sheffield. As was the case in the first period the previous night it was very close but from a spectators view nowhere near as exciting as the previous nights with both teams looking a little off colour which was reflective of the 0-0 score line at the end of the first period. Spartans stepped it up a gear in the second to take control of the game and also take a two goal lead after 25 minutes. Alex Harding scored on 23.02 assisted Ross Jordan & Danny Mawer with Stuart Brittle making it 2-0 on 25.32, assisted Sam Jones & Ollie Barron. Spartans were by far the better team but it took until 35.47 to put one of the many chances they had away to make it 3-0 with Ross Jordan scoring from Ollie Barron. In just over a minute it was 4-0 when Stuart Brittle scored his second of the night, assisted Ollie Barron & Danny Mawer. Minotaurs, who had clearly come out in a more determined mood shocked Spartans with two well executed goals from the impressive Lukas Zeman within the first minute of play. His first was assisted by John Murray & Andy Dunn with 40.16 on the clock; his second being timed at 40.56, assisted this time by Brian Worrall & John Murray to pull it back to 4-2. There was another three goals in the next 4 minutes with Jonathon Kirk, assisted Sam Jones & Ollie Barron, along with Ollie Barron who was assisted Stuart Brittle & Andy Cook scoring for Spartans with Jared Dickinson male the most of the time & space he was gifted to fire his shot home on 45.19 with Andy Dunn & Philip Proudlove awarded the assists on the goal. It was clearly Minotaurs best spell of the game but it wasn’t long before Spartans were in control again but again, they didn’t make Jackson work hard enough in Manchester’s goal backed with some stubborn defending, only managing to add one more on 49.51 through Will Barron who was assisted by Jonathon Kirk & Scott Morris. Minotaurs grabbed a late goal when Brian Worrall and Lukas Zeman combined to find John Murray to tuck his chance away, timed 49.51 to see the final score read Spartans 7 Minotaurs 4; Ollie Barron for Spartans and Lukas Zeman for Manchester were awarded the Man of the Match beers.
Two good performances for a job well done and a hard fought 3 points that ensure that Spartans are firmly still in contention for a play-off spot which sets things up nicely for next weekend’s next big challenge at Ice Sheffield with the inform Blackburn Hawks the visitors. Face-off for this game is 7.30pm.