Hockey: Double joy for London Dockland's record-breaking Vincett

LONDON DOCKLANDS battled to a hard-fought win against east London rivals Lynx on Sunday to strengthen their hold on third place in the National League.

LONDON DOCKLANDS battled to a hard-fought win against east London rivals Lynx on Sunday to strengthen their hold on third place in the National League.

With Alessandro Galli unavailable and Martin Blake still recovering from an ankle injury, Matt Butterworth started his first match of the season.

Earlier in the season Docklands had prevailed in five sets and in set one were in control of the match, pointing towards a more comfortable victory.

Mohammed Sliti was showing the form has produced all season and was scoring points from all over the court.

Man of the match Matteo Cottignoli provided setter Danielle Di Bella with a stable platform on which to feed all his hitters and it was Sliti who sealed the first set with a sharp cross court smash to take the set 25-19.

When Di Bella aced Wahid Hassani to take Docklands 7-2 up in the second set the visitors were in complete control.

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However, Lynx are renowned for their never-say-die attitude and two Hassani kills along with four Docklands' errors saw the scores tied at 8-8.

Sliti and Riccardo Senatore restored Docklands' advantage at 20-17 but again Docklands hit the self destruct button, giving Lynx four of the next five points in errors.

The home side jumped on their chance and kills by Wilco Burghout and veteran Ed Ekanem helped them home 26-24.

Docklands again started the new set in fine form with blocks by Sliti and Di Bella helping them into a 9-5 lead.

Lynx were disrupted by an injury to Ekanem, but by the time he had recovered and returned to the court his side had drawn level at 21-21.

Docklands saved four set points before two consecutive kills from Halatchev gave Docklands their only set point.

Senatore then saved another set point for Docklands, but after Ekanem fired over another smash, Senatore could only find the net to give Lynx the set 31-29.

After a poor start in set four when two errors gifted Lynx an early lead Docklands regained control.

Andy Vincett, making his 209th Docklands' appearance to take him ahead of Ned Groy at the top of the all-time list, quickly connected with all his hitters.

Aces by Halatchev and Vincett emphasised Docklands dominance in the set as they stretched their lead to 21-12.

Docklands had a brief wobble which saw Lynx back in touch at 21-17 down until a Halatchev block on Burghout steadied his side's nerves as they won 25-20.

Docklands started set five on fire with a rare block by Vincett on Ekanem opening up a 2-0 lead.

With the score at 8-7 to Lynx, Sliti then took control of the match with a kill followed by an ace taking Docklands back in front.

A serve by Burghout that didn't make the net gifted Docklands a slender lead and a clinical block by Blair on Ekanem gave Docklands two match points at 14-12, and Senatore sealed the win.

"Playing Lynx at their home venue is never an easy match and we battled well to win in the end," said Docklands coach Ian Legrand.

"Our next three matches are against sides battling against relegation and those matches will be similar to this one. We need to show that same spirit to make sure we kill off those teams."

Docklands host Newcastle Staffs in two weeks time at Bacon's College.