Leeds Gryphons were left cursing a lacklustre first half as their comeback attempt came up short against Durham 2nds this week.
Leeds knew they were in for a tough task when they welcomed Durham to Weetwood on Wednesday, with the visitors sitting atop division Northern 1A. The Gryphons were boosted however by the return of captain Simon Hanley from suspension.
The home side started the brighter of the two, moving the ball crisply around the back and threatening down the flanks. Ol Swann created the first chance of the game, clipping a dangerous delivery in to the D but eluding the Leeds attackers.
The turning point in the game came when Ross Lockwood saw yellow for collecting an aerial above head height, throwing Leeds onto the defensive. Durham were unable to take advantage of the resulting penalty corner, only managing to win two further unsuccessful corners.
The pressure began to mount on 10 man Leeds as they switched into damage limitation mode, leaving only two forwards high up the pitch. Durham began to look dangerous in open play; Leeds goalkeeper Will Green reacting well to save a head high flick to keep the scores level.
The Gryphons then appeared to struggle with playing the ball out of defence, turning over possession in a frustrating and careless fashion. Durham continued to churn out short corners at regular intervals and eventually they capitalised on one of them as the visiting captain fired a low drag flick under the body of Green in goal.
Durham grew into the game more and more as Leeds continued to look laboured when playing the ball out from the back. The Gryphons looked grateful to be going into half time only a goal down after a period of intense pressure from the visitors.
The second half started in the worst possible manner for Leeds, doubling the scale of their comeback before it had even begun. Half back Josh Mailling was dispossessed down the left hand side, only for the Durham defender to drive down the line and deliver a ball to his centre forward who had ample time to pick his spot and make the score 2-0.
This spurred Leeds into action and they began to forge shooting chances of their own. Captain Hanley, looking lively in the final third, managed to unleash a reverse stick effort but only find the feet of the Durham keeper. Short corners followed for Leeds but they could not find a way through the Durham defence.
Finally the pressure told on Durham as Hanley picked the ball up on the left hand side of the D, turning sharply away from his marker and firing a shot home at the wrong footed keeper’s near post.
With the score at 2-1, a result for Leeds was not out of the question as the game opened up. Leeds pressure was followed by Durham chances and Will Green made a great save to keep the comeback alive.
With a minute to go, the Gryphons burst forward on the counter attack at blistering speed, forcing a short corner; surely their last attempt to salvage a draw. Henry Campbell stepped up and powered a drag towards the roof of the net, but it was deflected over the bar by the Durham keeper. The chance was gone and so was the game.
Image courtesy of Sam Broadley