The Knights started their season with a trip to Rochdale, last season's 5th place finishers in Prem 2. Their last trip to Bridgeford Rd in the 12/13 season saw them on the wrong end of a convincing 10-1 scoreline.
A strong and deep squad of 15 featuring no fewer than 6 players making their competitive debuts for the Knights made the trip with Higginbottom relegated to away ref duties, having played every game last season.
Jones returned to his former club in goal, with Pidgeon, Prescott and Ellwood in D. Fletcher was LSM with Forshaw, Captain for the day Stewart, Clarke, Predun, Suddaby, Elleker, and Heighway the short sticks. Hunt, Dale and Chambers formed the attack.
The game started strongly with Forshaw (and Clarke) providing at least parity at the faceoff X again proving how important possession is. The Novocastrians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in 10 minutes on the back of tallies from Forshaw and a solo effort from Predun. The home side then pulled on back before Timperley produce Hunt showed his guile by slipping into the heart of the Rochdale defence to finish strongly from the crease leaving the quarter score a 1-3.
The second quarter saw Rochdale on the board first, but a trio of goals from the silver bedecked visitors with Forshaw and Hunt completing their braces and a first league goal for former Sheffield Steeler Dale saw the half time break arrive with the score at 2-6 to the visitors.
As often happens in lacrosse, the game turned somewhat in the third quarter. The home side came out a different unit and upped the pressure on the Silver and Black offence, leading to not only to more turnovers, but also more extra-man opportunities for the Knights. The age old sign of a team that doesn’t train much came back to haunt the visitors – not making the most of their extra man chances.
Three unanswered goals from the home team saw paid to the Knights’ first half endeavours and the pressure ramped up with the third period ending 5-6.
The fourth followed a similar story. Your Knights, under pressure to get back to scoring ways, started to try and force the ball down low instead of trusting themselves as they did in the first hald resulting in a lot of turnovers. The defence now seeing more of the ball started to tire, and opportunities came to the home offence. Jones acquitted himself nobly, but was unable to stem the tide, and following an equaliser midway through the final quarter the home side notched the winner with less than 4 minutes to go.
It was a heartbreaker for the Knights with expectations fairly low before the game, to be so close yet so far from marking what would have been the best quality win in club history was devastating. On reflection, if the result had been offered at 13:55, then we’d probably have taken it, but it didn’t make the bitterness any easier to swallow.
The 6 new Knights all earned their stripes with each and every one turning in a notable performance, and the 9 incumbents did themselves proud, proving the quality of the squad that won Premier 3 at a canter last season.
With this game being very much the stereotypical game of two halves, the potential of this side mean that if they can put together a full 80 mins, there could be some shock results in the offing this season.
1-3 (Forshaw, Predun, Hunt)
2-6 (Hunt, Forshaw, Dale)
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