Norwich Dragons 5
Pelicans Men 4
Pelicans Men’s 1st XI began their 2016/17 season with a narrow defeat in a friendly against fellow Division 2 opponents Norwich Dragons on Saturday.
Under new captain Gavin Johnstone and playing a new formation, Pelicans had some early defending as the home side started the quicker.
Pelicans started the game well, pressing a seasoned Spalding team, who have been together for some time, Will Means and Graham Brooks peppering shots at the superb Spalding keeper.
Dowers, Allsop and Major started the game well though, as did Bower who was in-between the posts, the closest the home side got was from a short corner which was well saved on the line by Major.
Following this fast start, Pelicans raced into a two-goal lead.
Firstly, after winning a short corner Simmons had a shot well-saved but the rebound fell to Walpole who struck a powerful shot in off the crossbar.
The second arrived minutes later, following a superb counter attack which involved a ball over the top from Johnstone, the skill and pace of Simmons who beat two defenders before slipping in Frost who rounded the goalkeeper and finished expertly.
Dragons continued to create chances, however, and had it not been for Bower they would have got back in the game very quickly.
Youngster Luke Mitchell came on to make his 1st XI debut in defence and slotted straight in, looked composed on the ball, defended well and attacked superbly when the time was right. He looks like he could be a key part of the 1st XI for years to come.
Just before half time Dragons did pull a goal on the rebound after another good save from Bower.
The second half produced more end-to-end hockey and Pelicans struck first to make it 3-: more good work down the right from Frost led to a penalty corner which was slipped back to the taker Johnstone who slammed the ball home.
Dragons then seemingly took control of the game with two quickly taken goals to level the scores. The Pelicans midfield of Johnstone, Sheerin, Walpole, Batterham and Collingwood-Smith were superb, however, at both ends of the pitch and put a real shift in their first game of the season.
They were rewarded soon after with an almost identical goal to their third, as a well won short corner by Simmons was slipped back to Johnstone who scored his second.
As the game progressed Pelicans began to get tired and this led to Dragons winning the game with two late goals, with the winner coming from a well struck short corner.
Despite the defeat, this was a promising performance from a new-look side. Tomorrow they continue their preseason campaign with a home fixture against Long Sutton.
4 Way Refrigeration Ltd MoM: Henry Frost.
Pelicans Mens 2nd XI 3 Spalding Mens 3rds 2
Pelicans Mens 2nd XI started their campaign under new captain, Samuel Kent.
Chances came and went, penalty corners were missed and closed down well by the defence.
Pelicans put training to use and played an impressive passing game, utilising the whole pitch.
New summer signing, Dominaite Benscat, proved his worth in central defence cutting out any chance of a first half Spalding goal.
Despite efforts and the run of play, the half ended 0-0.
The second half started well for Pelicans.
John Lemon, pressing forward providing further opportunity for Pelicans to shoot, eventually won a penalty corner as the Spalding defender pelted a clearance into Lemon’s nose.
Benscat slotted home a neatly-executed drag flick to open his account with his new club.
Spalding, caught on the back foot, allowed Pelicans’ passing game to get the better of them. Phil Nash tanked the ball forward, while Ben Picton and Sam Kent worked well to move the ball around central midfield.
Will Means found Brooks in acres of room after a pacy sprint to the top of the D. Brooks, executing a precision lob of the Spalding keeper, put Pelicans 2-0 up.
Spalding applied the pressure and soon found the net twice, levelling the score.
Johnny Vinson showed determination in retrieving the ball, despite someone else having been there first.
He engaged top gear, flying through a field of players, and assisting Tom Norman who made the final score 3-2 and the first win of the season for Pelicans.
Man of the Match: Dominaite Benscat.