Whitley Warriors earn impressive point at Sheffield Spartans

Man of the match for Whitley Warriors Richie Lawson, second right, waiting for the announcement with Dan Pye, Dan Harris and Mark Turnbull. Picture by Colin Edwards
Man of the match for Whitley Warriors Richie Lawson, second right, waiting for the announcement with Dan Pye, Dan Harris and Mark Turnbull. Picture by Colin Edwards

Whitley Warriors travelled to Yorkshire to take on Sheffield Spartans last Saturday afternoon without a number of players.

Adam Reynolds and Rob Wilson both missed the game due to injury while skipper Jamie Tinsley, Jordan Barnes and Callum Watson were all unavailable.

Forwards Martin Crammond and Callum Queenan came back into the squad after missing last weekend’s game against the Sutton Sting.

Once the action got under way Spartans had the game’s first chance when Sheffield d-man Jonathan Kirk burst forward, however, Warriors’ defence were able to thwart last season’s NIHL North young player of the season as he looked to put the home side ahead from the face off.

Whitley ran into penalty trouble early on as Dean Holland and Craig Johnson were sent to the box for minor infringements, but they were able to kill those off successfully.

Twelve minutes in Spartans lost skipper Ollie Barron as he was given five minutes plus a game for boarding Alex Lawson.

There was a brief stoppage in play as Lawson regained his composure after the coming together.

Warriors generated a number of offensive opportunities on the resulting powerplay but could just not find a way past Sheffield’s in form goalie Brandon Stones as Holland and DJ Good both went close.

Whitley started the second session on the powerplay after Spartans d-man Ross Jordan had been sent to the sin bin for holding.

But again Simon Leach’s side were unable to make their advantage count.

Warriors eventually took the lead with 33 minutes on the clock as Holland coolly slotted home.

They almost made it 2-0 seconds later when Lawson brought a smart stop out of Stones.

Towards the end of the period Whitley youngster Ben Richards was given a two-minute penalty for high sticks, but Warriors were able to end the period still a goal to the good thanks to some resolute defensive work on the penalty kill from blue liners Dan Pye, Paul Matthews and Dan Harris and some fine saves from goalie Richie Lawson.

The game turned on its head on 47 minutes when Stuart Brittle, on a powerplay, and Dave Pyatt both netted for home side in a frantic 33-second spell.

This two-goal burst lifted the Spartans fans, however, Whitley continued to play their disciplined hockey.

Warriors were rewarded when they were able to tie the game up on 53 minutes as Harry Harley fired home after some nice work from Ben Richards and Paul Matthews.

Whitley had a late powerplay opportunity but Stone made several fine stops which saw both sides take a point from the NIHL North match up.

Warriors coach Leach said: “I was extremely proud of the boys.

“We only travelled with 14 skaters and with five of them being under 18 we showed great resilience and discipline from start to finish.

“We had to alter our game plan for this game and I feel we executed our systems very well throughout, causing many turnovers in the areas of the ice we wanted.

“We have gone away from home and out-shot and out worked our opponents, and I believe we are slightly disappointed we haven’t come away with both points.

“We were able to give a debut to 16-year-old defenceman Craig Johnson, who looked very composed and put in a very steady performance, which was very encouraging.

“Richie (Lawson) was solid between the pipes and came up with some excellent saves when called upon.

“We showed what can be achieved when you stick together, work hard and play with discipline for 60 minutes.

“I have told the boys that is a benchmark we need to match every night and we will be a match for anyone in our league.”

Richie Lawson was chosen as Warriors’ man of the match while Spartans’ Ross Jordan was selected as Sheffield’s top performer.

Whitley are in action twice next weekend as Leach’s side travel to the Scottish Borders to take on the Solway Sharks in the St Andrews Cup on Saturday before a league match up on home ice on Sunday, October 12, face-off 5pm, when Warriors take on Spartans.