Sudbury beat champs Ely to secure promotion

GOING UP: Sudbury Action from Sudbury Hockey Club's 4-2 home win over champions Ely City on Saturday.
GOING UP: Sudbury Action from Sudbury Hockey Club's 4-2 home win over champions Ely City on Saturday.

AFTER 12 seasons away Sudbury’s first team are returning to Division One hockey after beating league champions Ely to secure back-to-back promotions.

EAST MEN’S LEAGUE

DIVISION 2N

Sudbury 4 Ely City 2

AFTER 12 seasons away Sudbury’s first team are returning to Division One hockey after beating league champions Ely to secure back-to-back promotions.

Sudbury’s campaign has been built around their unbeaten home record but with four regular players missing.

The experienced Simon Cardy came into the side as a target man, Sam Palmer slotted in at full-back and Matt Hopkins put in a man-of-the-match performance on the wing.

The visitors started hard and fast, pressing all over the pitch and won a number of short corners. And they took an early lead with a strike that goalkeeper Chris Smith allowed to slip under him.

Redemption for Sudbury’s player-of-the-season came as a fine reverse stick challenge kept the scores level.

As the home side grew into the game they countered at pace and this was a fine game for the spectators. Excellent work from Hopkins and Apter supporting Cardy up front began to stretch the visitors.

Sudbury won a short corner after stalwart Chris Clubb was struck by a lifted clearance from the Ely keeper and Brad Bosman struck the ball home to draw the sides level.

Both sides had shown their intent to win early on and the visitors launched rapid attacks down the line but Palmer and the excellent Humphries were equal to their opponents and the centre-back pairing of Monk and Blackburn marshalled the centre of the pitch.

From another rapid counter-attack, the ball ran loose in the Ely D and Bosman reacted quickly to fire home his second and give the red and whites the lead at half-time.

Sudbury rotated the side to keep fresh legs on the pitch and the midfield of Hammond, Bosman, Clubb and the returning Burton worked tirelessly.

Ely drew level with a deflection from a short corner and minutes later Smith pulled off a reflex save from another deflection to maintain parity.

The home side knew that a draw might not be enough to secure promotion and drove forward to try and clinch all three.

Another rapid counter-attack released Hopkins into the D and he committed the keeper before unselfishly squaring the ball to Cardy who calmly slotted home to restore the lead.

With five minutes on the clock, Sudbury won another short corner and Bosman stepped up to smash home his third and Sudbury’s fourth to seal three points and promotion.

This has been an excellent squad effort with Sudbury using more than 20 players throughout the season and led excellently throughout by coach Stuart Kevis who steps down after eight seasons coaching at the club.

* Reaction in next week’s Free Press.