A new look Olton & West Warwicks 1st string started the 2009/10 campaign in fine form with this nervy victory over this Nottingham side at Grange Road.
Olton, who have been tipped as favorites for promotion to the EHL, gave full debuts to no fewer than six new faces in Steve Mallows and Simon Thompson from Bournville, Tom Bates and Ed James from Solihull Blossomfield, Richard Allen from Warwick University and Michael Johnson from Cannock.
The game started at a frantic pace with Olton getting the better of the early exchanges whilst looking a little nervy.
Despite early nerves Olton’s direct play was rewarded with a penalty corner with five minutes on the clock which Tom Pickersgill coolly converted leaving the Bridgford goalkeeper stranded.
Unfortunately the goal did little to settle Olton and it wasn’t long before a long aerial from within the Bridgford 25 zone cut open the Olton defence and allowed Todd Mills to sneak into the ‘d’ and place the ball, passed Wilson and Smith into the Olton goal past keeper Isaacs.
West Bridgford momentarily took the lead 5 minutes later through a John Anderson penalty stroke after Bates was deemed to have intentionally broken down play in the Olton ‘d’ only for Olton to equalise through yet another Tom Pickersgill short corner drag flick moments later.
The 2-2 score flattered West Bridgford and it wasn’t long before Olton restored their lead with a third short corner drag flick, this time by Sukhdeep Sidhu.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first half with the home side still looking nervous.
West Bridgford were showing signs of fatigue and it wasn’t long before the game was put to rest from another short corner, this time converted by Tom Mallett.
Olton settled down for the final 20 minutes of the game controlling the ball within the midfield and ensuring that the back four remained tight. Needham and Mallett went close late on but the game ended 4-2 with three fine points for Olton.
Despite not firing on all cylinders, the home side deserved the win and sit on top of the league.
Next week Olton travel to Lichfield Hockey Club to face another side hotly tipped for big things this season.