Saxons edged out by high-flying rivals

Gavin Cload on the ball for South Saxons against Old Williamsonians. Picture by Justin Lycett

Gavin Cload on the ball for South Saxons against Old Williamsonians. Picture by Justin Lycett

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South Saxons Hockey Club's men's first team was narrowly beaten by third-placed opposition in its first league game after the festive break.

Saxons were edged out 3-2 at home to Old Williamsonians on Saturday, but remain fifth in South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2.

Andrew Acott in possession. Picture by Justin Lycett

Andrew Acott in possession. Picture by Justin Lycett

Spurred on after the previous weekend's confidence boosting performance in the Sussex Cup semi-final defeat to Horsham, Saxons looked to implement a gameplan which gave them all three points in their last home league fixture against Kings & Alleyns.

The early exchanges saw both teams sizing each other up, with Saxons tactically looking to limit the space for any searching passes forward.

Williamsonians looked nervous at the back and Saxons intercepted some poor passes from their full-backs. Andrew Orr's movement and link up play with Alex Coombs, Andrew Acott and Olli Beal caused the away defence numerous problems early on.

These attacks won Saxons a few short corners thanks to the efforts of Jamie Busbridge and Coombs, but the team's ability to be clinical from set-pieces was found wanting.

Paddy Cornish pursues a Williamsonians opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Paddy Cornish pursues a Williamsonians opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Williamsonians broke the deadlock after Saxons conceded the ball on the left. A counter-attack was worked swiftly to the byeline before the ball was cut back and crossed to the far post, leaving their unmarked forward a simple tap in.

Moments later Saxons almost replied when a superb aerial into the D from Coombs found Beal with just the goalkeeper to beat, but between him and the supporting Busbridge, they could not take the chance.

Saxons weren't to be denied, however. After a skilful run, Acott struck a crisp reverse stick shot into the far corner to deservedly level the scores at half time.

Williamsonians took the lead again early in the second half after Saxons gave away a cheap short corner. The drag flick was saved by Brock Smith, but an away forward reacted quickest to tuck the rebound away from close range.

Nick Taylor tries to break away from a Williamsonians player. Picture by Justin Lycett

Nick Taylor tries to break away from a Williamsonians player. Picture by Justin Lycett

This seemed to galvanise the visitors and they took full advantage of their next set-piece by going 3-1 up following an acutely dispatched short corner.

Saxons kept their heads up and continued creating chances. Acott drove into the D and squared for Busbridge, whose shot was deflected inches over by a covering defender.

The pressure told as Saxons got back to 3-2 midway through the second half. A swiftly taken free hit by man of the match Acott found Busbridge in the D and he turned before picking out Beal to finish at the far post.

The final moments of the game saw a few tempers rise as late challenges on Acott and Coombs again went unpunished.

A final short corner attempt by Beal flicked into the body of an opposing player, but the umpire deemed the shot had gone wide and Saxons were beaten for only the second time at home in the league this season.

Saxons will travel to sixth-placed Canterbury Pilgrims this coming Saturday.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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