Harrogate Hockey Club kept their slim hopes of promotion alive in North Division One last weekend with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Crewe Vagrants, thanks in main to double hat-trick hero David Swarbrick.
Luke Lambert’s side, who welcome Didsbury Northern to Granby on Saturday (1.30pm push back), climbed up to third position in the league just five points behind Bowdon.
But they were left to reflect on a lacklustre second half performance which almost saw them throw away a 4-0 half-time lead.
After a near 120-mile journey, Gate were quick out of the blocks and looked to have the game sewn up with Swarbrick proving clinical, including one stunning reverse stick strike, after terrorising the Crewe defence with his pace.
Just before the break Peter Shipston was given a harsh sin binning.
This proved to be the catalyst for a big swing in momentum as the hosts capitalised on some hesitant defensive play in the early stages of the second period.
Crewe scored three unanswered goals before Swarbrick added his fifth of the game as time ran out and tensions rose.
A fourth goal for the hosts was cancelled out by another solo effort from Swarbrick to complete his double hat-trick, and there was still time for a final drag flick in the dying seconds to take Crewe to within one goal of a famous comeback.
Skipper Lambert was relieved that his side came away from their longest trip of the season with three points, but urged his side to rediscover the defensive form which has been a hallmark of their season.
“At 4-0 we were extremely comfortable,” he said.
“The yellow card just before half-time prompted a huge shift in momentum towards Crewe and we were unable to slow the game down in the second period.
“We conceded too many short corners, which they took advantage of.
“Thankfully, we had the game’s outstanding performer in Dave Swarbrick.
“His finishing was absolutely exceptional and we have him alone to thank for our victory.”
Harrogate’s ladies side ran out narrow 1-0 winners against Morpeth last weekend, with Olivia Warwic grabbing the only goal of the game.
They make the long journey to Neston South Wirral on Saturday (3.00pm push back), who will be looking to return to the top of North Division One after not having a game in the last round of fixtures.