Old Hales fall in finale

First published in Sport

OLD Halesonians Hockey Club saw their slender hopes of promotion extinguished with a final day defeat at Bridgnorth.

They went into the game with the unbeaten league champions knowing a win would still give them a chance of a top-two finish but Old Hales were beaten 5-2 to leave them ending the campaign fourth in West Midlands Premier Division.

Bridgnorth dominated the opening stages but it was the visitors who nearly took the lead when Graham Knight hit the bar.

A mistake from keeper James Jones allowed the hosts to break the deadlock but Knight soon equalised.

However, Bridgnorth stepped up a gear and scored three more before the break to lead 4-1 at the interval.

Old Hales began the second-half in impressive fashion, putting the champions under increasing pressure and getting their reward when Paul Woodall scored to reduce the deficit.

But that was as good as things got and Bridgnorth made the game safe from a penalty corner.

There was joy for the third XI, who clinched the West Midlands One title after a 2-1 win at Finchfield.

They went into the game knowing only a win was good enough and they had to survive some intense early pressure, with Ade Lockyer pulling off several saves.

Just when Old Hales seemed to be getting on top, the hosts took a surprise lead on the counter-attack.

The visitors didn’t panic and were level before the break, thanks to Adam Hill’s 32nd goal of the season.

As tension rose in the second-half, Dan Millichip struck the post, while Hill and Dave Harrold were both brilliantly denied by the Finchfield keeper.

With 12 minutes to go, Old Hales were awarded a penalty flick but Damian Shackleton’s effort was saved by the keeper.

The defining moment came soon after as Shackleton fired home the goal which sealed the title.

Old Hales soaked up massive pressure in the final five minutes with Lockyer continuing to impress.

Old Hales seconds had little to celebrate as they suffered a 6-0 home defeat against Warwick.

The fourths were 4-0 winners away at Rugby and East Warwick, while the Ladies won 4-1 against Bournville.

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