South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team came from behind to rescue a point from its opening game of 2015.
A breakaway second half goal from Tudor Stainsby meant Saxons began the second half of their Sussex Open Hockey League Division One programme with a 1-1 draw at Middleton on Saturday.
Saxons were without captain Jamie Busbridge and Paddy Cornish on a very wintry afternoon in West Sussex so Alex Coombs and Andrew Orr came in. Jules Buss, usually a defender, donned the goalkeeping pads, as a late replacement for Stew Feakes.
The visitors started well with stand-in captain Jon Meredith teeing up Stainsby, who forced the goalkeeper into a save. It was one-way traffic for the first 15 minutes with Harry Reece, Stainsby and Coombs all causing problems for the Middleton defence, but Middleton took the lead against the run of play with a deflected shot on the break.
Saxons defender Toby Reed was deployed up-front during the second half and the change had an immediate impact as he linked up well with Coombs and brought a save from the goalkeeper.
The pressure continued to mount and tempers began to flare with two yellow cards on both sides.
Man of the match Reed caused more problems and recovered from being struck in the head to provide the pass for Stainsby to slot the ball under the goalkeeper for the equaliser.
Seventh-placed Saxons are yet to record an away victory, however. They will face unbeaten leaders Crowborough in their first home game since late November this coming Saturday. Push-back at Horntye Park is 1.30pm.