PREVIEW: Complacency won’t be a problem for City of Peterborough

Ben Read (red) on the ball during City of Peterborough's 4-3 win over Harleston. Photo: David Lowndes.
Ben Read (red) on the ball during City of Peterborough's 4-3 win over Harleston. Photo: David Lowndes.
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City of Peterborough players have been warned to stay 100 per cent focused as they freewheel towards a huge final day game in the East Premier A Division.

City’s crucial 4-3 home win over Harleston last weekend has strengthened their grip on top spot - and a return to National League hockey for the first time since the 2012-13 season - with just four games to go.

Brendan Andrews on the charge for City of Peterborough against Harleston. Photo: David Lowndes.

Brendan Andrews on the charge for City of Peterborough against Harleston. Photo: David Lowndes.

The next three, at home to Saffron Walden (tomorrow, February 24, 1pm) and Letchworth (March 10), and away to Chelmsford (March 3) appear bankers. The last game at third-placed Bedford (March 10) less so.

But team manager Graham Finding is confident complacency won’t become an issue for a team who survived a strong fightback from Harleston to stay a point clear of St Albans at the top.

Goals from Manish Patel (2), Joe Finding and Brendan Andrews had powered City into a 4-1 lead with 20 minutes to go.

City played that game without key men Alex Armstrong and Ross Ambler, but both are back this weekend.

Wisbech Under 16 girls before a 7-1 win over Spalding, no order, Issy Oakley (captain), Charlotte Mair, Lily Amps, Agata Rataj, Helena Wadlow, Emily Thomas, Izzy Gowler, Izzy Pope, Grace Gowing, Zara Howes, Tia Bideau, Abigail George and Ellie Padmore.

Wisbech Under 16 girls before a 7-1 win over Spalding, no order, Issy Oakley (captain), Charlotte Mair, Lily Amps, Agata Rataj, Helena Wadlow, Emily Thomas, Izzy Gowler, Izzy Pope, Grace Gowing, Zara Howes, Tia Bideau, Abigail George and Ellie Padmore.

“Alex in particular was a key absentee for the Harleston game,” Graham Finding insisted. “Tim Whiteman – the Harleston coach who waltzed through for a short corner goal – is still in his early 30s and he has over 50 England and GB caps to his name, as well as three National Premier Division titles, and Alex was the man we would have put on him.

“The hockey wasn’t great at times, but it was a big three points. Brendan Andrews had a very good game and Ross Booth put in a captain’s man of the match performance.

“We are hopefully professional enough to not let complacency cost us in any of our remaining games.

“They all bring their particular challenges and with no room for error every player knows they must be 100% focused for every minute of every game.”

Spalding celebrated the first Premier Division win in their history last Saturday when pipping Chelmsford 4-3. They put in another decent performance when losing 6-3 at high-flying Bedford the following day.

Captain Josh Rowbotham, Stuart Cunnington, Michael Morris and a visiting defender scored against Chelmsford. The winner arrived in the last minute, 60 seconds after Chelmsford had equalised.

Bourne Deeping surged up four places to fifth in the Premier B Division with an 8-0 bashing of Wisbech.

City of Peterborough thirds were 2-0 up in their Division Two North game at Norwich Dragons, but late ill-discipline cost them as they slipped to a 4-3 defeat.

City of Peterborough’s mixed team made it through to the third round of the First Tier National Cup with a 5-1 win over Harleston. Holly Finding (2), Tierney Augustine, Joe Finding and Ross Ambler scored the goals.

Grace Gowing scored a hat-trick as Wisbech beat Lincoln 7-1 in a girls under 16 match.

Second-placed City of Peterborough Ladies are back in East Premier Division action tomorrow when travelling to fifth-placed West Herts.

City, who didn’t have a fixture last weekend, have four games left and are unlikely to catch leaders Ipswich who have a five-point advantage at the top, but runners-up would be a terrific achievement in the first season in the club’s history as a Premier Division club.