Disappointing Weekend for Spartans
Spartans were missing Will Barron but otherwise were at full strength for the visit of Billingham Stars on Saturday evening. In an exciting first period it was Spartans who gained the upper hand going into the break 1-0 up thanks to a Stevie Weeks unassisted goal on 5.42, scoring from his own rebounded shot.
It was still pretty even but the game was being spoilt by some strange calls from the referee against both teams, one of which put Stars on a 5 on 3 powerplay from which they scored to equalise through Michael Bowman, assisted Paul Windridge & Andy Finn on 26.12. Shortly after a defensive error whilst on the penalty kill saw Spartans give up possession, when there was time & space to clear the puck, for Billingham to score a simple goal on 26.42 through Michael Elder, assisted by Callum Davies & Ben Davison. This was the turning point of the match, Spartans lost their way & appeared disorganised which handed the initiative to Stars who were unable to make the most of their domination with the score remaining 2-1 in their favour.
Into the final period & Spartans appeared more organised but were unable to break down Stars solid defence & what chances did come their way werenâ€™t fully taken advantage of. Billingham were able to control the game, looked comfortable on the puck to kill the game on 52.42 with a great goal from Andy Thornton who was set up by Andy Munroe. Spartans continued to work hard but couldnâ€™t force a goal & after another soft call from the referee, Stars made their power play count as the scored a well worked & taken goal on 56.32 by Michael Elder, assisted by Gary Dowd & James Moss to make it 4-1 which was the final score & in the end, a deserved victory for Stars. Man of the Match was awarded to Brandon Stones for Spartans & Michael Elder for Stars.
Final Score: Spartans 1 Billingham Stars 4
On Sunday, Spartans travelled to Blackburn to face the Hawks in front of a large & noisy crowd with Will Barron back in the line-up but missing Tom Humphries who had concussion from Saturdayâ€™s game. Dave Pyatt & Dan Taylor were also unavailable. Hawks basically dominated the game from start to finish with a poor showing from Spartans who never really troubled Hawks. The effort was there but that was about it really with a performance that will have given the whole team food for thought, although in fairness it is still early in the season.
Hawks went in 3-0 up at the end of the first period which in fairness could have been more had it not been for Brandon Stones in Spartans goal. Blackburnâ€™s scorers were Dimitrijevs, Ric Hughes & Chris Arnone.
Into the second period Myles Dacres scored to make it 4-0 early on but didnâ€™t press forward hard enough to take advantage of some sloppy play from Spartans who were fortunate not to be further behind as Hawks appeared to go a bit flat. Spartans did create a great chance to pull one back but Danny Brittle pulled off a great save to deny them, the first serious save heâ€™d made in all honesty & had largely been a spectator until then. As Hawks took a more physical approach to the game it became a bit scrappy with both teams taking penalties from which Spartans struggled to create anything which applied to some extent to Hawks who
had clearly taken their foot off the pedal but did manage to add another goal late on as Aaron Daviesâ€™s persistence paid off, scoring at his 3rd attempt to make it 5-0.
Blackburn seemed lifted in the final period & controlled the game quite comfortably, Spartans again struggling to create anything really worthwhile despite working hard and werenâ€™t aided by the loss of Andy Cook & Ollie Barron through injury but whose woe was increased when Adam Brittle scored an easy short-handed goal to make it 6-0, from which point Hawks played the clock down to claim an easy victory in the end which could have & should have been by a far greater marker. Nick Whyatt was deservedly awarded Spartans Man of the Match, nicking it from Brandon Stones with Adam Brittle on his home debut taking it for Hawks. A very disappointing performance from Spartans who were let off the hook really by a very strong Blackburn Hawks team that will be definitely challenging for more silverware this season.
Final Score: Blackburn Hawks 6 Spartans 0