Cruel deflection the difference in top-two tussle

The top teams continue to jostle for position in the last few weeks of the round robin of the premier men's hockey competition.

This week's match of the day was between the top two teams and doubled as the week's shield challenge - King's United emerged 2-1 victors over University A Whales.

University had the better of the first two times these teams played in 2019.

But defending champions King's United maintained first place on the ladder and a grip on the shield.

Right throughout the competition teams have had their depth tested, and both teams were missing some key contributors once again.

However, this did not affect that attacking mindset that has become a hallmark of this season's competition.

An end-to-end contest developed as King's poured forward in numbers on attack.

The Whales tended to rely more on individual bursts to break down the defence, with support following through.

King's method seemed to come to fruition, as it was able to score first through talented striker Craig Turner.

As can often happen, the Whales were spurred on by conceding the opener, and through the middle section of the first half appeared to have the better of the midfield.

They put some pressure on King's with penalty corners, and Henry Will converted a drag flick, the ball rocketing into the net to even the scores.

The students' joy was short-lived however, as minutes later King's striker Lawson Davison found himself in the attacking circle, and all but beat the keeper with his shot at goal.

The next few seconds appeared to be in slow motion, as the save was only enough to deflect the ball into the post.

The bounce-back cruelly hit the sprawled University keeper and rolled towards the goal line.

Despite his best efforts he could only manage to poke it into the goal, and King's was back in the lead.

This seemed to spur the teams to only attack more, but the game became a bit disjointed, with more frequent turnovers.

During the second half there were not a huge number of good chances created, as the slightly reckless nature of the attacks held the teams back.

Kailin Dayal and Tim Kerr were busy for University in the midfield, and Dylan Thomas made a strong return for King's after being out for a couple of weeks.

In the other match Albany took the points with a 3-2 win down in Gore, while the third game was deferred due to under-18 national championships.

Taieri and University B will play next Sunday instead.

 - MATT WEST

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