There was disappointment in Cheshire for Preston Hockey Club men’s 1sts when they went down 4-2 at Bowdon.
The fixtures against Altrincham side Bowdon are as close Preston get to a derby within the North Men’s Conference.
The hosts have consistently picked up points and found themselves in second place, this season whereas Preston – despite a valuable draw against Loughborough Students the previous week – were second from bottom.
Preston began the game strongly, Sam Sinclair being put through on goal within minutes of the push-back, his effort wasted.
Preston made amends minutes later as direct play won a penalty corner that was converted easily by Adam Wilson with a powerful drag-flick.
The visitors continued to enjoy the bulk of the play but never looked quite as threatening and slowly Bowdon began to take a stranglehold.
The men from Cheshire were busy in attack and kept the Preston defence – featuring debutant Nick McWhirter – on their toes.
The equaliser came in the 23rd minute, Daniel Campbell applying a tap in past goalkeeper Matty Potts.
In a bid to stay in the game, Preston rotated through their substitutes, keeping players fresh enough to weather the storm.
They began to settle back into their stride but on the half-hour mark the pace of the Bowdon attack took its toll.
A devastating double from Oliver Stoddart and Ben Whitte –both of whom were afforded too much space by the Preston defence – put the home team into a 3-1 lead going into half time.
Preston used the interval to discuss tactical options and highlighted the importance of a strong start to the half.
Bowdon showed the early dominance but slowly, through skill and persistence from midfielders Julian Lopez and Dan Renshaw, Preston’s chances became more frequent, Ben Heywood going close on one occasion.
Calm defending from Bowdon meant Preston had to wait until the 49th minute before Wilson put them back within a goal.
Another of his stylish drag-flicks from a penalty corner eluding the young home goalkeeper and making it 3-2.
The game continued to ebb and flow, chances for both teams being created, with skill and entertainment on show for the crowd.
Preston continued to look threatening but it was not to be a dramatic finish as Thomas Ainsworth capitalised on tired defending to make it 4-2 and restore the Cheshire team’s two-goal cushion.
This weekend Preston will host Yorkshire rivals Doncaster.