Albury-Wodonga Strikers crash out on centre

THE Strikers narrowly avoided a crash on the Hume Highway but ended up in a car wreck of their own at the National Hockey Centre.

Last year’s Victorian State League 1 premiers had to change in the bus and run from the car park onto the ground after being behind a truck that burst into flames on the Hume Highway, near Gundagai, on Saturday.

Coach Tony Jones said they were simply no match for their opponents.

“They were faster and more skilful than us and we spent most of the first half chasing the ball,” he said.

“It was 5-1 at the break and we kept them to two goals for most of the second half before two soft goals made the scoreline a little embarrassing.

“To our girls’ credit they never dropped their heads, never complain, they just see it as a challenge, see that they need to improve to be competitive against the top sides.”

Jones rated goalscorer Jade Versteegen, Jade Mann and Brooke Purtell as their best.

Meanwhile the Spitfires broke through for their first win of the season.

Matt Smart was reaping the rewards of regaining some of his key players in the 3-2 win over Tuggeranong Vikings.

“The first half was nearly faultless hockey and we were leading 3-0 by the break but it could have been a lot more,” he said.

“They changed their structure and we didn’t pick it up quickly enough in the second half.

“But the way we played in patches gives us the confidence to think we can be competitive against some of the better teams, particularly when we have a full squad to pick from.”

Smart said captain Tony Donnolley and Dom Wild were the Spitfires’ best, Josh Pritchard the only injury concern with a hamstring tweak 10 minutes into the second half.

“We have next weekend off and hopefully Josh is fit to go the following week when we are also likely to get Jeremy Payne back as well,” he said.

“It’s certainly a different feeling to have everyone available whereas a couple of weeks ago we had close to 15 out with injuries and rep.”