It’s a funny old game and Sheffield Hallam Civica, plus the Longson brothers, certainly proved it.
Earlier in the season they’d blitzed lowly Harbone 10-2 on their own pitch so the Abbeydale return was surely going to be another goal fest.
How wrong can you be.
Harbone, who are perilously close to the relegation zone of the HEL Men’s North Conference, duly defied all logic when they held the then leaders to a 1-1 draw.
Civica even had the luxury of a 16 minute opener from Tristan Gilbody whose full length dive deflected a well struck ball from the wing past the despairing keeper. They piled on the pressure but couldn’t convert numerous chances into goals even from penalty corners which Phil Roper, the division and league’s top scorer, was unable to put away.
Sure enough, the visitors won two penalty corners just before the half-hour mark and from this second one former player Pat Longson grabbed the equaliser.
Pat, who left the club to go to University in Birmingham, was playing against his brother and Civica skipper Duncan and said afterwards that he was elated that Harborne had won a valuable point but felt really sad that it had been against a club that he still felt part of.
The rest of the match was more of the same with Harborne often defending with all 11 players back inside their 22-metre area and the massed ranks brought a reward.
It was a disappointing result for Civica who had scored 21 goals in their last four games and proved even more so when Doncaster’s 6-3 victory over doomed Ben Rhydding allowed them to take over top spot by one point.
Next up for the Sheffield side is Saturday’s crucial trip to third-place Durham University who are level on points but have an inferior goal difference.
However Doncaster’s visit to Abbeydale a week on Sunday could well be decisive in deciding the championship.
Hallam Seconds have a home double-header weekend against City of Manchester, the side immediately below them in North Div 1, on Saturday (11.45am) followed by a derby cruncher against Chapeltown on Sunday (noon)
The third team travel to Yorkshire Premier Division leaders Harrogate in a battle of the top two while the Fourths host Division One second-place team City of York 2 (4.30pm).
Hallam’s fifth team, currently second bottom in Div 2, go to Brigg 2 and will be looking for a return against a side three places and five points ahead of them.