‘Relegated’ North Notts sign off the season on a high

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North Notts Hockey Club’s final game of the season was a first half goal festival with the Manor Park side final firing on all cylinders beat Wolverhampton 7-2.

With a fully fit squad of 14 players, Notts were determined to finish the campaign off strongly, despite the probability of relegation when the leagues are re-structured in May.

With Notts lining up with a very attacking formation it was surprisingly Wolverhampton who took the game to Notts in the first minutes as an early attack saw a shot fired wide of the Notts goal.

Seconds later Wolverhampton forced their first short corner which again ended with a shot wide of Unwin’s post.

After the initial upset Notts were beginning to find their stride and Anthony Clay was leading the charge from right back and linking up well with Matt Kanalass in the Notts midfield.

On nine minutes Notts took the lead when Allen Butler drilled home a short corner which gave Notts the boost they needed to get going after recent poor results.

Within three minutes Notts had come close through William Butler and Jason Barton.

The second goal was always coming for Notts and, when Kanalass intercepted the ball and found William Butler. He in turn found Allen Butler, who fired home his second goal.

Seven minutes later Allen Butler completed his hat-trick when Alex Greer threw a fantastic aerial ball over a struggling Wolverhampton defence which Butler raced on to and coolly finished.

Wolverhampton were now already consigned to another defeat and one minute later Marc Johnson’s persistence paid off when he was allowed to convert from close range to leave Notts 4-0 to the good.

Johnson doubled his tally a minute later when Josh Singleton combined well with William Butler, who found Johnson lurking at the back post to convert after 25 minutes.

On 29 minutes it was 6-0 as great work from Adam Moss earned Notts a short corner from which Alex Greer made no mistake.

To their credit Wolverhampton continued to press Notts and were rewarded on 30 minutes when some slack defending led to a penalty corner.

Once the initial strike had broken down, disappointingly, Notts were slow to react and Wolverhampton easily converted.

However, with Notts again coming close in the last minute of the half through Barton, the half completely belonged to the Manor Park side who went in leading 6-1.

Manager Jay Faulkner’s words at half-time were to keep passing the ball and enjoy the game.

But five minutes into the second half Notts conceded a second after more lacklustre defending.

Wolves then created problems for themselves when they received a yellow card for a poor tackle in the D.

From the resulting short corner, Notts again came close through Allen Butler, then a minute later Jason Barton had a gilt-edged chance which actually seemed easier to score than miss, but somehow the veteran managed to waste the opportunity.

This didn’t halt Notts as on 51 minutes Alex Greer again stepped up and slammed home a veracious penalty corner to leave Notts 7-2 in the lead.

The final 20 minutes saw Notts have 90 per cent of the play and pepper the Wolverhampton goal.

But no more goal were forthcoming, came despite a flurry of penalty corners in the last minute. However, Notts signed off from Midlands One with dignity, having competed in the majority of the games this season and will be ruing their luck and some of the umpiring decisions they have been on the receiving end of.

Manager Faulkner said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to sign off the season than massive win today.

“It wasn’t just the size of the victory but the way that we played and hopefully will evolve to play next season.

“I would like to pay tribute to first X1 stalwart Mark Paulson, who today played his last game for the first X1 after several successful years leading the back line.

“Next season there are several places available in what is shaping to be a very exciting squad as we look to bounce straight back up.”