More heartache for North Notts after late dismissal

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North Notts Hockey Club suffered more heartache as they were dealt a cruel blow in the dying minutes of their 2-1 defeat by Old Halsonians, Matt Cooper dismissed for an innocuous challenge and the resulting penalty corner being converted to give the away side victory.

Notts manager Jay Faulkner said: “Again a controversial decision has cost us, another mistake from our point of view.

“Cooper is a hard honest player and to be accused of a professional foul is something I’m very surprised at. That said decisions are subjective so we have to live with it.

“I have to congratulate both sides who tried to play hockey in some of the worst conditions I’ve seen on a pitch in 27 years.

“We again have to pick ourselves up and get ready for this week’s fixture against Kings Heath Pickwick. The good news is we have South African Allen Butler available so we will be at full strength.

“However, we must forget that we scored eight without reply at Kings Heath and treat them as a top of the table team as we must win if we are to stay in this league.

Saturday started well for Notts who showed that they will fight every inch to protect their Midlands 1 status.

Early exchanges saw bright attacks from both sides, but it was Notts who went closest in the early stages of the first half.

A penalty corner saw the ball fall to William Butler whose shot went agonisingly close.

Poor weather played an important factor in the game with hailstones and a thunderstorm both striking in the first half to make the game a scrappy affair.

Old Halsonians’ best efforts were from short corners, one of which was spectacularly saved by keeper Paul Unwin.

As half-time drew with the scores level at 0-0, manager Faulkner took the unprecedented step of keeping the teams moving throughout the half-time break.

With Notts starting brighter in the second half it seemed that keeping moving during half-time had done the trick until an Old Halsonians’ forward cleverly won a penalty corner.

That was flicked towards goal and stopped on route. Unfortunately for Notts, the Old Halsonians forward reacted quickest and slapped the ball home to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Notts then upped the tempo and pushed forward strongly, Moss and Greer showing some great work in midfield. But it was youngster Josh Singleton who was stealing the show with a tireless performance.

Notts’ sustained pressure was rewarded when a fortunate Alex Greer won a penalty corner which was questionable to say the least.

This, however, was executed superbly by Notts, allowing Singleton to slam the ball home from a very tight angle to level the scores.

The final 20 minutes were played at a frantic pace and both teams could have secured the points before the controversial decision in the dying minutes which gave old Halsonians the second goal and killed off North Notts’ hopes.