North Notts Hockey Club’s mini-revival came to an end on Saturday as they were defeated 6-3 at a strong Worcester side, who are chasing promotion.
Notts went into the game at full strength for probably the last time this season as unavailability plus injury will leave the club calling on fringe players for key games for several weeks.
Notts started brightly and took the lead when Allen Butler blasted home on five minutes, leaving the despairing keeper with no chance.
This should have settled Notts, but Worcester have aspirations of taking the second spot from Barton, who stuttered last week against bottom of the table Wolverhampton, and soon started to press the Notts defence with fast balls along the sidelines.
On 10 minutes Worcester found the equaliser - a powerful drag flick beating Notts captain Unwin and sailing into the top corner.
This put Notts on the back foot and Worcester began to turn the screw, taking the lead on 15 minutes when their veteran forward slotted home with a great strike from the top of the D.
Notts began to find the flow for the remainder of the half and Allen Butler again came close when his penalty corner was ruled out having been adjudged to not have struck the back board.
Notts were dealt a killer blow two minutes before half time when a ‘Hawk’ strike managed to find its way just inside the post to leave them 3-1 down at the break.
Manager Faulkner’s half-time team talk called for belief and more legwork from the midfield.
Notts immediately came close in the opening minutes of the second half when Moss tiptoed through the Worcester defence only to find his final pass short.
Worcester again found the right time to punish Notts when on 40 minutes they increased their lead to 4-1.
Notts, however, have showed a never-say-die resilience this season and again hit back at Worcester on 47 minutes, William Butler taking the ball down at chest height and coolly slotting home.
Again Worcester refused to let Notts take control of the game and hit them again with a fifth goal three minutes later.
The visitors looked dead and buried but a more attacking formation rejuvenated the side and, with Jason Barton taking control in midfield, Notts started to dominate and left Worcester relying on quick counter attacks.
Worcester were thrown a further setback when a drilled ball aiming towards the Notts D flicked up and hit the their veteran forward in the chin, leaving the wound needing hospital treatment.
Notts then enjoyed 15 minutes of control in the game, producing several chances which weren’t converted. The best fell to William Butler in front of goal, who saw his shot saved when a slipped pass to Smith at the back post would have produced a certain goal.
On 65 minutes Notts’ man of the match Anthony Clay made a superb foraging run and found Allen Butler free in the D with a slick pass, and Butler easily slotted home to take the score to 5-3.
As Notts piled forward in the final minutes hoping to force more chances, Worcester again took full advantage to break and tie up the game with their sixth goal leaving Notts beaten but feeling they could, on another day, have got something from the match.
Notts manager Faulkner said: “Two wins and a draw in the previous weeks left us going into this game on a high and believing we could grab at least a point here.
“Unfortunately Worcester hit us at exactly at the right times to stop us getting any momentum in the game.
“Over the next few weeks we have the some selection issues and points today would have been very welcome.
“Allen and William Butler both picked up injuries today that will leave them on the sidelines for the next couple of weeks, but we’ll dig deep within the club and are confident we can bring younger players into gain some much needed experience.
“Credit to Worcester today who showed that they deserve the second promotion slot playing attacking hockey the way it should be played.
“Next week we face Barton who will be extremely strong but well again try to get the points to lead us nearer to safety.”