South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team was crowned league champions following a come-from-behind final game win on Saturday.
Two goals in either half gave Saxons a 4-1 victory at home to East Grinstead III which secured top spot in Sussex Open Hockey League Division One by the slender margin of goal difference.
As expected, the Hastings side started very nervously with so much resting on the result. As Saxons started to get a grip on the game, they were pegged back when Alex Coombs was harshly sin-binned for a supposed deliberate foul while defending a short corner. East Grinstead calmly slotted home the resulting penalty flick to open the scoring.
This was the wake-up call the home side needed and Saxons were soon on the attack with Olli Beal, Harry Reece and Tudor Stainsby all looking threatening. They forced many saves from ex-Saxons goalkeeper Ben Bosden and won back-to-back short corners.
From a ‘short’ came the equaliser as man of the match Paddy Cornish calmly deflected in a shot from Beale, which sparked elation on the spectators’ balcony.
Soon afterwards, the home side scored again through Jon Meredith, who has been a consistent and reliable member of the squad throughout the season.
Saxons were unlucky not to add a third before half time as skipper Jamie Busbridge lifted the ball over a defender’s head from an aerial pass only to see his volley well saved.
Busbridge asked for much of the same from his players in the second period, but to be more clinical in front of goal. Saxons got to work early in the second half, with full-backs Chris Meredith and James Riley pushing up the pitch at every opportunity.
Coombs drew a reckless foul from a defender, leading to a yellow card, with another to follow shortly after. The home side gained full control of the match when Toby Reed slotted home from a tight angle to make it 3-1.
The final goal was created by Meredith and finished by Busbridge, who capped off a successful season by sealing the 4-1 win.
Saxons will now be promoted into South Hockey League Kent/Sussex Regional 2 when they return to action in the autumn.
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