South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team was knocked off the top of the table after losing 2-1 against title rivals Southwick on Saturday.
Saxons’s first home defeat of the season means they now trail Southwick by three points in the race for Sussex Open Hockey League Division One glory.
The big, strong away side looked a daunting prospect, but Saxons battled competitively from the word go, with early chances falling to both sides.
Saxons were knocked back when Paddy Cornish had to go off to receive treatment for a head injury, which later resulted in five stitches at A&E, when a throughball from Southwick’s midfield was deflected up from Jon Meredith’s stick.
While Cornish was off the field, Southwick broke the deadlock with a snap-shot beating Saxons goalkeeper Mike Sutton.
Cornish returned a few minutes later after being patched up by the medical team and there was no further scoring during the first half, although there were a couple of cards for either side.
The half time team talk delivered by skipper Jamie Busbridge was asking for much of the same, but to be more clinical in front of goal.
Soon afterwards, Meredith smashed the ball into the D and man of the match Cornish controlled it in the air before smashing it into the backboard.
Southwick - who have won all of their matches since losing the reverse fixture - were not done, though, and immediately upped their game once more.
After many short corners, Southwick scored the winner from open play. The unfortunate Sutton turned a shot against the post, but the ball rebounded back into his pads and then into the goal.
The last 10 minutes saw a fantastic display of pride and passion from both teams, with many chances, but the scoreline remained unchanged.
Special mentions should go to Tudor Stainsby and Jon Meredith for their tireless efforts in the middle, and Toby Reed and Chris Meredith for constant commitment and workrate under pressure.
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