Sheffield Hallam men’s Conference North title hopes suffered a setback after a below-par second half performance at Olton and Warwicks.
The return to National League action proved hugely disappointing as the Abbeydale-based first team were held to a 3-3 draw in the Midlands showdown.
Hallam started the game just one point adrift of leaders Brooklands MU but finished three points off the pace after the leaders 3-1 win over Doncaster. However they remain three ahead of Durham University and all three teams have to play each other before the end of the season.
The Longson brothers gave their side the perfect start at Olton, Pat laying off the ball to Duncan who rifled it into the bottom corner. Numerous other chances came and went and Hallam should have been three or four goals to the good at half-time.
It was a completely different ball game after the interval as sloppy play was punished twice over in the space of three minutes as the home side took a 2-1 lead.
Hallam showed their character and equalised against the run of play courtesy of a trademark reverse stick shot from Will Musgrave. This was followed by a superb Phil Roper reverse stick shot into the top corner from the narrowest of angles to give his side the lead once more but just as it seemed they would hang on for a crucial win, the home side levelled it up with three minutes remaining. Hallam now face a huge double-header weekend at Abbeydale, starting against Leek on Saturday (noon) and followed 24 hours later by Preston (2pm).
Leek are in fourth place but aren’t likely to trouble the top trio come the end of the season while Preston, in their first ever National League season, are embroiled in a bottom end tussle with Deeside Ramblers to see who will finish in the play-off spot. Preston will want to forget Hallam’s visit in October when the visitors recorded an 8-2 win.
Hallam’s mixed team received a walkover in the EHB Trophy when Stockport Bramhall conceded their first round match.
It was a poor first half that proved to be the fourth team’s undoing in their home match against Yorkshire Division One promotion rivals Leeds University Thirds. Second-placed Hallam, one point ahead of Leeds with a game in hand, were hit by a goal blitz and found themselves three goals down at the break.
Two telling breaks by Tim Elliott in the space of six minutes brought goals for Simon Law and Chris Wilkins and Hallam were right back in it. However the critical moment in the match come with 12 minutes to go when Leeds won a penalty corner which resulted in a fourth goal.