Ben Rhydding Firsts 6

Southport 1

BEN Rhydding concluded their season with an emphatic victory over strugglers Southport. This defeat condemned the Seasiders to relegation from the North Premier League.

Rhydding's season has been a curate's egg - good in parts. The Yorkshiremen have lost only two of their last 16 games. It is all the more frustrating that Rhydding had such a wretched start, losing six on the trot.

Ben Rhydding's recent success has been founded on an excellent defensive record. It is no surprise that goalkeeper Phil Weaver was voted Player-of-the-Season.

Skipper Neil Sugden is optimistic about the future.

"Our aim for next season is to remain solid at the back and increase our fire-power up front," he said.

For the record, goalscorers against Southport were Smith, Burke, Lambert (2) and Wood (2).

Southampton Ladies 4

Ben Rhydding Ladies 1

It's along way down to the South Coast to play hockey in Southampton, and it's an even longer journey back especially when you lose. Ben Rhydding ladies had to make this long trek home after a disappointing performance against their Hampshire opposition.

Earlier in the season Rhydding had won their encounter with Southampton and were looking forward to continuing their ever improving recent performances.

It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and temperatures in the early twenties. Whether it was the long journey, the unaccustomed hot weather, the reduced squad size due to unavailability or just an opposition that were more hungry for victory, the ladies did not do themselves justice and will have felt they should have done better.

Southampton made the more positive start, but Rhydding defended well and it was the Ilkley side who first took the lead. This resulted from a move initiating with quick thinking at the back by Issy MacDonald which enabled Sarah Male to link well with Rachel Doherty who slipped the ball to Melissa Reynard to give the visitors a much appreciated goal.

For the remainder of the first-half, Rhydding struggled to get it together although spasmodically dangerous attacks came and they could have increased their goal tally.

Equally Southampton had chances but at the break just the one goal separated the two sides.

It was the second-half when it all went wrong. The first disaster was that Rachel Doherty pulled her hamstring and was unable to play any further part in the game.

Southampton scored two quick goals to take the lead and they started to dominate the game. With a large crowd on their side and the advantage of their unusual pitch surfaces they now looked the far superior side and their third goal was not long coming.

Shortly before the end they added a fourth from a short corner to convincingly beat their Yorkshire opposition. On the positive side, the ladies as ever never gave up and also this was the first National League match for 15 year-old Jodie Bridge who made an extremely credible performance in her debut game, and will undoubtedly be part of the squad in the future.

The ladies now have a break for Easter before they have mammoth weekend - St Austell in Cornwall on April 2 and Swansea on the following day.

The men's second team defeated Doncaster Thirds 6-1.

Ben Rhydding men's third team also enjoyed a convincing victory over a Doncaster side winning by a 4-1 margin.

Ben Rhydding men's fourth team entertained Sheffield Hallam and were on the wrong end of an 8-1 hammering. Their consolation goal was scored by A White.

A goal by A Woodhead was the only consolation the men's fifth team got from a 3-1 defeat by Lincoln,

The men's seventh team shared the spoils with Doncaster in a 3-3 draw.

Their scorers were P Blackburn, C Dowley and M Higgitt.

Badgers 3

Doncaster 3

Both sides were looking for a win to improve their chances of promotion from Division Nine of the Yorkshire Hockey League.

The grass pitch proved rather uneven and made it hard for either side to play their usual style of hockey.

All the goals came in the first-half, Doncaster pulling ahead each time, only for Ben Rhydding to equalise with goals from Connor Dowley, Martin Higgett and Philip Blackburn.

Doncaster had much the better of the second-half but Ben Rhydding defended resolutely to hold out for the draw.

Although some of the other promotion contenders have games in hand, the single point should be enough to ensure promotion.

In the final round of matches of the Under-14 Yorkshire Youth Hockey League, Ben Rhydding faced tough opposition.

They started with 2-1 wins against both Doncaster and Kirklees.

Mark Portnell was a constant threat down the right wing and Will Knox maintained his excellent scoring record with three of the goals, Cameron Borrett collecting the other.

In the final game Ben Rhydding faced Sheffield and started brightly, Ben Wholley feeding Knox to score the opening goal.

Sheffield soon equalised and the Ben Rhydding defence of Stuart Raw, Stephen Timperley, Alex Ickringill and Harry Appleby tackled valiantly as Sheffield pressed for the winner.

However, in the final minutes, they conceded a penalty corner from which Sheffield scored.

The two wins were enough to ensure Ben Rhydding topped the league and they can look forward to the play-offs in April.