Preston Hockey Club men’s 1sts edged a thriller against second-placed Bowdon men’s 1sts triumphing 2-1 at home.
The Men’s Hockey League Conference North clash was Preston’s last league fixture before the Christmas break and they climbed to sixth after outclassing their prosperous opposition.
Preston were dominant from the outset and looked to take the game to Bowdon.
Within the opening 12 minutes, Preston were twice denied goals by the woodwork.
Firstly, strong running up front opened up an opportunity after a superb through ball from Sam Sinclair.
Dave Greenough picked the ball up at the top of the D and slapped it past the Bowdon keeper, only for it to hammer back off the upright.
Three minutes later and Preston were in again.
This time James Sutcliffe played a defence-splitting 60-yard pass which found Ross Lockwood with his back to the keeper.
He turned sharply on to his reverse stick and unleashed a shot which this time clattered away off the inside post.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure. Adam Wilson and Julian Lopez linked up well in the midfield and Ben Scott caused plenty of issues down the right.
Yet, the overload going forward was to be their downfall, as Bowdon punished Preston on the counter-attack through a well-taken goal on the half-turn by Ian Wilson in the 21st minute.
Preston looked to respond immediately – but the South Manchester opposition remained resolute.
At the break, head coach Peter Nicholson urged his side to remain calm and continue to play with a high tempo.
And it paid dividends as Preston equalised in the 40th minute.
Greenough was brought down by the Bowdon keeper with only a defender to knock to ball past.
The result was a Preston penalty stroke and a five-minute side-line for the keeper William Green and Greenough levelled from the spot.
Bowdon held out with 10 players for the suspension period but Preston were causing all sorts of issues and openings in and around the D.
The hosts went ahead in the 62nd minute.
David Sullivan found a foot just outside the D on the left.
Quick thinking from the hit put Lopez through to slide the ball to Greenough, who deflected home from close range and go 2-1 to the good.
The last eight minutes were nerve-racking.
Bowdon took their keeper off and played with 11 outfield players, yet despite the advantage against them, Preston were resolute and unbreakable.
In the last minute the opposition were rewarded with a short-corner to try and salvage a point from the game.
An extremely powerful low drag-flick was parried wide by Matthew Potts in goal to ensure Preston claimed all three points.
Preston manager Simon Eccleston said: “This is a landmark result, not just for the team but for the club as a whole.
“The club has come a long way over the last 10 years, and to beat an affluent club such as Bowdon just shows where our priorities lie in nurturing talent from within.”