Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Aiming to Shine Again

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Aiming to Shine Again

Article excerpt


BILLINGHAM Stars have a double dose of NIHL North Cup action this weekend with a trip over the Pennines to face Blackburn Hawks this afternoon, followed by the visit of current Cup table-toppers Solway Sharks to the Forum tomorrow evening.

It's been a chaotic week for reigning league champions Blackburn. A 6-0 defeat at Whitley Warriors last Sunday proved to be the final straw for the management team who fired head coach Matt Darlow the following day after just 11 competitive games in charge.

Darlow's remit had been to rebuild the Hawks squad after a summer that had seen over half of the double-winning side leave, but the current return of five wins from 11 starts was not seen as good enough and defenceman Steven Duncombe will take over as Player/Coach for the remainder of the season.

Duncombe's immediate task will be to stop the rot and bring harmony back to the dressing room - Blackburn have the talent but must now gel as a team if they are to pull themselves back into contention in all competitions.

By contrast tomorrow's visitors Solway are flying high, sitting on top of both the League and Cup standings.

Some had predicted a struggle offensively for the Sharks this season after they opted to go with two import defencemen, plus the departure of leading goalscorer Richard Bentham back to Blackburn a few weeks ago, but the Scots are bringing plenty of talented youngsters through the ranks who are proving to be a handful and racking up the goals.

Last Saturday saw the Dumfriesbased outfit skittle the Ultimate Windows-sponsored Stars 8-2 with a masterclass of speed and finishing - if they can maintain that kind of form then it is difficult to see past Solway for silverware this campaign.

Cup holders Billingham need to improve massively on last Saturday's poor performance north of the border if they are to get anything out of this weekend. The Stars are going through a bad patch with injuries, but there can be no excuse for the lacklustre way in which the Teessiders capitulated in Dumfries. …

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