Cardiff picked up their first win in this season’s promotion playoffs with a good performance to overcome a dispirited Sheffield Hallam side, 5-2. Despite both sides knowing their Premier League hopes were over, they still put on an entertaining show for the crowd.
Luke Hawker opened the scoring with 14 minutes gone as he turned in a cut back from the right giving Jamie Cachia in the Hallam goal no chance. With both sides free from the shackles of vying for a Premier League place the game was quite open with both sides playing some nice hockey. Sheffield drew level with a fierce reverse stick strike from David Goodfield which Lee Ible got a strong glove to but could not keep out. Hallam took the lead late on in the half with another fine goal. Tom Barrett sent in a good low cross which was diverted expertly into the corner by David Bond.
Cardiff drew themselves level just before the break. Brendan Creed was robbed inside his own half and Hawker fed Daf Tomos who in turn fired the ball back inside to Hawker who supplied the finish for a lovely goal.
Minutes after the break Cachia made an excellent save from Henry Eriksson’s penalty corner but he was beaten not long after as Sheffield conceded a penalty stroke which was scored by Mark Whatling.
With Sheffield’s discipline starting to waver, the game swung firmly towards Cardiff. Hallam picked up four yellow cards and two greens, causing them to play long spells with fewer players than their opponents. Whatling was afforded another chance from the spot with ten minutes left, which he duly took to make it 4-2.
Martin Sutherland went close for Hallam with a sliding deflection off a penalty corner but their day was summed up when a lovely move down the right cut Cardiff open only for Bond’s shot to somehow go wide of the target. With five minutes left the final nail in the coffin came as Sheffield lost the ball in their own half and Rupert Shipperley took full advantage to make it 5-2.
Both sides deserve a lot of credit for the display they put on in what was a dead rubber, but when the dust settles, they will both be bitterly disappointed to be facing up to life in the conferences next season.