Despite a decent performance, promoted North Notts Hockey Club’s first game back in Midlands Division One in seven years ended in a 4-3 home defeat by Burton at the weekend.
Following a series of mixed results in pre-season Notts knew they needed to make the same improvement increment this week to the lead-up to the Chesterfield game last week.
They started off looking strong and moving the ball through the park, making progression up the pitch with several attacks on the Burton D, but this was met with a by a strong offensive from Burton, who were able to win a short corner on the five minute mark and the well-drilled visiting outfit were able to convert this set piece.
Notts were not shaken by that early setback and were able to pile the pressure onto Burton and win a number of short corners from which they were unable to convert.
There was also some fantastic defensive work from league debutant Anthony Clay, supported by Matthew Cooper to keep Burton at bay.
Following a period of mixed possession, a loose ball in the Notts D managed to find its way into the Notts’ net, despite several saves from keeper Unwin, as a deflection from a Burton forward gave them an two-goal lead on the 24-minute mark.
This was followed up by a strong offensive from Burton, who were able to extend their lead to 3-0.
However, Notts were determined not to be rolled over and prove that their place in this league is deserved.
They kept up the pressure and, after winning a couple of short corners they were able to get Matt Cooper at the top D striking position, who buried the ball into the Burton net to set the half-time score to 3-1.
The interval team talk from manager Jay Faulkner was to keep composed and keep on the offensive as Notts had caused Burton plenty of problems.
From the off it was clear that, despite being two goals behind, the home side were straight back on the offensive with play being spread down the wings through Nathan Smith, looking to find Allen Butler in the forward line.
Notts looked to be on control of the second half, pushing Burton back into their half until a break down the Notts right hand side allowed them to extend their lead to 4-1 on 55-minutes.
Despite the scoreline looking incredibly biased against Notts, they still held strong and kept the offensive work up.
It finally paid off as two quick goals from centre forward man Allen Butler put Notts one goal behind and back in the match.
However, several decisions in the closing five minutes of the game denied Notts the chance of a couple of short corners and they were left a goal short at the end.
Despite the loss, the performance from Notts was very promising for the remainder of the season and pleased the crowd that had assembled in the October sunshine.