North Notts see off South in local derby

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Saturday saw North Notts beat local rivals South Notts 3-1 in the Warwick Printing Midland Hockey League.

Having hit eight goals without reply last week, North Notts were in buoyant mood, despite having captain and goal keeper Unwin unavailable along with Jephson and Johnson.

Manager Jay Faulkner was able to recall Nathan Smith and Matthew Cooper into the squad.

South Notts have had mixed fortunes this season, having bought in several new players, and are struggling to find a team ethos.

The last time South played North Notts three seasons ago at Manor Park they delivered Notts a lesson in hockey running out 10-0 victors and they arrived at Manor park with a squad of 16 players in confident mood.

The game started with Notts in an attacking frame of mind with Smith and top scorer Allen Butler looking sharp.

From the early exchanges it was apparent that South Notts players were not comfortable with each other’s game and Notts exploited this by pressing fast and hurrying the skilful South midfield.

South did, however, have the first opportunities through a brace of shots which led to a short corner on five minutes.

However, Ian Lowrey in the Notts goal was more than confident in dealing with the South effort.

Notts were then forging their own attacks, Singleton and Butler settling and running the midfield with Barton and Moss working diligently on the wings.

Allen Butler had a number of chances, the most significant on 10 minutes when he forced a diving save from the South keeper.

With hard tackles being made in the midfield, South became more focused on the umpiring than the game and this allowed Notts to take the upper hand, Smith cutting through the South’s right side of defence and slipping the ball past the keeper to an unmarked Allen Butler who easily scored from close range to give the home side a deserved lead.

Notts now upped the tempo and should have increased the lead on 18 minutes when again the South goalkeeper denied Allen Butler.

South began to creep back into the game and were rewarded when a hopeful shot was creeping wide of the goal only to find a South forward ghosting in at the back post to tap in from a yard leaving North Notts’ defence shellshocked at level at the interval.

Manager Faulkner told his side at half-time to continue as they started the game and be more clinical in the D.

Notts started the second half at lightning pace, quick interchanges at the back allowed William Butler to smash a 30-yard pass to Allen Butler, who killed the ball dead with sublime control and rampaged into the South D. The South defence was nowhere to be found and Butler cooled slotted home to put North Notts back into the lead seven minutes into the half.

South then started to come into the game and Notts lost Adam Moss on a yellow card for a rash stick tackle.

A quick reshuffle saw Notts cope admirably with the South pressure, but there were still moments of tension for Notts, Lowrey having to make several key stops and William Butler pulling off a sublime save on the line from a penalty corner.

South, also reduced to 10 men for dissent, were becoming more and more frustrated with Notts’ resolute defending.

It was from such good defending that Notts were able to find Allen Butler again, who raced into the D shadowed by a South defender, who cynically bought him down.

The umpire had no hesitation in awarding Notts a penalty stroke and dismissing the South defender.

William Butler stepped up for the crucial stroke and coolly dispatched the ball past the sprawling keeper to give Notts a 3-1 lead.

The rest of the game was rode out by Notts to give the side another win and left them mid-table.

Faulkner said: “A superb display of resolute defending, left South with very little options in the final 25, that combined with Allen Butler and Nathan Smith’s attacking prowess actually meant this was a comfortable victory and are settling into this league quite happily

“We are under no illusions though every game is a cup final for us and we’ll treat everyone as such.

“This week we travel to Bridgnorth, who are undefeated at home, and that will be a very tough game, especially with three key players out again.”