NESTON faced City of Manchester in arguably the most important game of the season to date, writes Harry Bush.

With City of Manchester having had three points deducted for playing a suspended player it was the Prawn's opportunity to give it their all in this top of the table clash.

Neston failed to get out of first gear for the first 20 minutes. None of the patient, passing hockey played before Christmas was on display and Manchester duly capitalised.

City of Manchester put the pressure on straight away and Captain Richard Lowry did a brilliant job in denying any early opportunities.

Inevitably all this City attack lead to the first goal, with a Manchester striker driving into the dee from a free hit and putting the ball hard and low into the goal. 1-0.

With a large chunk of the match still to go the Neston side started to appear more relaxed and even managed to penetrate the Manchester Circle and win a penalty corner.

On one of many counter attacks Manchester found a foot in the dee and converted the penalty corner with a well executed drag flick 2-0.

Neston struck back early after the break with a penalty corner, Tom Smith's flick found Adam Berman who deflected the ball in to the goal. 2-1.

A string of short corner's followed and if Neston had put them away then the dynamics of the game would have most likely swung in Neston's favour.

Despite the constant work rate and superb defending from the full back pair of Joel Hennell-Neally and Andy Heath, Neston just couldn't find the back of the net.

It was a better second half for Neston with the team spreading the ball around, however not enough to regain the lapse in focus from the first twenty minutes of the match.

City of Manchester go seven points clear at the top and Neston must keep battling in every game to compete in a potential play-off.