Saxons gallant in defeat to powerful rivals

Andrew Acott on the ball for South Saxons against Horsham. Picture by Justin Lycett
Andrew Acott on the ball for South Saxons against Horsham. Picture by Justin Lycett

South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team produced a very creditable display against a team which plays three levels above them.

Saxons will take heart from a performance where every player showed incredible intensity and commitment, and raised their level to make Horsham work very hard for their 4-0 victory in last weekend's Sussex Cup semi-final.

Andrew Orr closes down a Horsham opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Andrew Orr closes down a Horsham opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Saxons came out the blocks well and matched Horsham in the early stages, with the majority of the play taking place in the middle of the pitch.

As the first half wore on, Horsham began to dictate more of the play and pushed Saxons back, but the home defence held firm and remained well disciplined to keep the Horsham attack at bay, aided by some precision tackles from Toby Reed.

After soaking up a barrage of Horsham pressure, Saxons’ hard work started to pay off as some good pressing led to some turnovers and the chance to hit Horsham on the counter-attack.

With Alex Coombs working tirelessly, Olli Beal led a fine breakaway and fed the ball through to Jamie Busbridge, who was denied by a good save from the goalkeeper at his near post.

Alex Coombs tussles for possession. Picture by Justin Lycett

Alex Coombs tussles for possession. Picture by Justin Lycett

Saxons began to see much more of the ball and dictate the play, with Andrew Acott and Paddy Cornish starting to make their presence known in midfield.

As half time approached, a poor Saxons tackle led to a Horsham short corner which was emphatically dispatched into the bottom corner for the opening goal.

At the break Saxons were by no means disheartened by the scoreline. Saxons came out the blocks well in the second period and enjoyed good spells of possession, but chances were again kept to a minimum.

As the half went on, a combination of some quality Horsham play and tired Saxons legs meant the home side began to be penned back in and around their 25.

South Saxons defender Toby Reed on the ball. Picture by Justin Lycett

South Saxons defender Toby Reed on the ball. Picture by Justin Lycett

Saxons’ challenge became even bigger as two goals from back-to-back short corners gave Horsham a 3-0 lead. One of them was extremely unlucky as a great save by Brock Smith deflected the ball onto Cornish’s leg and it then rebound into the goal.

Saxons didn’t let their heads drop and started to find another burst of energy. Saxons showed some excellent team play in an around the Horsham goal area, with young Bailey Wright making his presence known.

Some great skills from Coombs allowed him to break through the defensive wall and force the goalkeeper into another solid save.

As the game entered its final stages, Saxons’ tiredness was evident and Horsham broke away to add another well-worked goal to complete the scoring. Saxons’ man of the match was Nick ‘Noddy’ Taylor.

Paddy Cornish seeks to escape the clutches of a Horsham opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Paddy Cornish seeks to escape the clutches of a Horsham opponent. Picture by Justin Lycett

Saxons will resume their league campaign this coming Saturday expecting a tough game at home to an Old Williamsonians side which sits third in the table. Push-back is 1.30pm.

Saxons: Smith, Reed, Cload, C. Meredith, Burnett, Taylor, Cornish, Acott, A. Orr, Coombs, Busbridge, Webster, Beal, Wright.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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