A ramshackle Crostyx side were made to toil in the February sunshine as they were dealt an 8-1 thrashing at the hands of Letchworth after being forced to field a weakened side.
A disastrous set of circumstances led to a unprecedented level of unavailability for Crostyx on Saturday with captain Joe Whitehead absent along with; Neal Lofthouse, James Lawes, Dan Hunn and longer term absentees Paul Monteith and David Griffiths. Additionally the usually called upon in these situations (AJ Vassiliou, Ed Murphy, Jake Burke) were also unavailable resulting in more than half the Crostyx eleven (and they were just the bare eleven) having to travel to Letchworth with some haste to play their second match of the day.
Despite this far from ideal arrangement it was Crostyx who started slightly the stronger with Demi Vassiliou’s usual trickery causing problems and winning short corners and Ross Hopkins finding space to work the Letchworth goalie.
Styx couldn’t make the early pressure count however and it was the hosts who stole the advantage as an overload down the flank and pullback from the by-line was forced to the back-post and calmly flicked home.
The visitors responded with a salvo of set pieces, converting one through Ross Hopkins in the simplest of fashions.
Letchworth responded with a penalty corner of their own, drag-flicking to Riordan’s stick side to retake the lead and doubled the advantage shortly afterwards in a cruel fashion when a straight-strike from a short corner was deflected onto the backboard by the Crostyx post man.
Ian Dunnett should have got Crostyx back into the tie, but found his first touch had deserted him after good interplay down the left.
Letchworth made it 4-1 on the stroke of half time as a Crostyx attack down the right broke down and the resulting break ended in a scramble in the D and the ball rolling under Riordan and into the corner of the goal.
The visitors attempted to redouble their efforts despite tiring legs and on another day Hopkins may have completed a hat-trick, first hitting the left post and then just being denied by a combination of goalie and narrowing angle after being set up by Rob Harrison’s weighted pass.
The home side turned the screw as Crostyx tired, keeping the ball for long periods of time and forcing mistakes in the D, with shot on the turn making it 5-1 and then a barrage of late penalty corners racking up a further three with deflections at alternating posts.
The loss keeps Crostyx sixth in the table with only five matches remaining in the season, and they will be looking for much stronger performances this weekend as they face off in a double-header against Colchester at the Peter May ground on Saturday and then travel to Harpenden on Sunday in a rearranged fixture.
Half time score: Letchworth 4 – 1 Crostyx
Full time score: Letchworth 8 – 1 Crostyx
Scorer: Ross Hopkins
Squad: Neill Riordan; Joe Johnson, Simon MacLeod, Russ Smith, Callum Palmer; Will Holyman, Rob Harrison, Ian Dunnett; Harry Chick, Demi Vassiliou, Ross Hopkins.