A gap is starting to open up at the bottom of the table after North Notts Hockey Club suffered a fourth successive defeat, losing 7-2 at home to joint top of the league Hampton-in-Arden.
From the off Notts started strong, pushing up the pitch, but it was clear that it was going to be a very tough game and that a lot of determination was going to be needed.
Notts were able to create several chances with Butler, Barton and Johnson narrowly missing out.
Notts were given the early lead when a smashed ball into the D from Matt
Cooper managed to deflect off a defender’s stick and flew beyond the reaches
of the keeper.
This was quickly followed up by a rapid Hampton offensive to open their score sheet with a short corner initially saved by keeper Unwin, but a rapid second shot saw it placed home.
Hampton quickly followed this up by an high-paced breakaway down the left hand side to find their forward on the right of the Notts D to fire off a reverse sided hit into the top corner of the goal.
At the half-time break Notts did not make any changes to the side nor wanted to change anything tactically as the effort and pressure being given was good against such a strong side.
From the restart Notts kept up the pressure but Hampton were feeding their right winger who, at great pace, was able to pick out players on the back post to pick up their first goal in the second half.
This was quickly followed up by a short corner that was converted and, at this point, the game looked over for Notts.
Nevertheless, they kept on attacking and distributing the ball well and a breakaway attack saw Notts fire a ball into the D which caught a defender’s foot and was deflected into the back of the net.
But Notts failed to find any rhythm in their game and relied heavily on the midfield running the ball onto the Hampton defensive line’s sticks.
Hampton managed to extend their lead further when another back D reverse strike was converted. This was quickly followed by a short corner awarded to Hampton which was converted.
Josh Singleton bobbled home a last minute goal to give Notts a little pride but the scoreline did not reflect Notts’ performance as a huge improvement in the number of offensive moves and set pieces won in the final third.
Hampton, while not having a huge amount more of the possession, were more clinical in the final third which gave them the upper hand.
Notts manager Jay Faulkner said: “We knew today would be tough but we felt we could get something from the game.
“However, a lack of concentration again was our downfall, that and a very good opposition keeper, who dealt with everything we threw at him superbly.
“The next three weeks are critical for us as we face teams who are positioned around us.
“We know we can stay in this league and compete, but we must start grinding out results and keeping concentration for 70 minutes.
“We have to congratulate Hampton for their victory today especially as we comprehensively beat them a few seasons ago when they were re-building their team, and we will look to emulate their efforts over the coming years.”