South Saxons inflict first defeat on league leaders

Oli Cornelius keeps a close eye on the Ashford player in possession. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Oli Cornelius keeps a close eye on the Ashford player in possession. Pictures by Simon Newstead

South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team ended the unbeaten record of table-topping opposition on Saturday.

Saxons produced their best performance of the season so far to triumph 3-1 at home to South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 leaders Ashford.

The Horntye Park Sports Complex-based club is now up to third in the table after five consecutive victories.

See also: * South Saxons come from behind to net four-star victory
* South Saxons celebrate 4-0 away victory
* Hastings United fightback undone by last gasp penalty

After a frenetic start, Saxons opened the scoring when a failed short corner routine was recovered by Paddy Cornish, who squared for Jon Meredith to set up brother Chris Meredith for a low near post finish.

Saxons had chances to extend their lead in the first half, but a combination of lack of composure and a trademark Lloyd Williams block from an Alex Coombs effort kept the scoreline to 1-0.

Ashford’s best moments came early in the second half. The Saxons defence of Nick Taylor, David Waters and captain Cornish, as well as goalkeeper Mike Sutton, stood firm until an unfortunate error from Cornish led to Ashford scoring from a well-deflected short corner.

Nick Taylor on the ball during South Saxons' 3-1 win at Horntye Park

Nick Taylor on the ball during South Saxons' 3-1 win at Horntye Park

The equaliser only seemed to galvanise Saxons, though. Saxons worked tirelessly as a unit and their constant pressure soon paid off.

Master marksman Jamie Busbridge regained the lead for Saxons after a foul on Will Orr in the D. A slick short corner routine resulted in Andrew Acott teeing up Busbridge, who applied a composed finish at the near post.

Other notable chances in the half fell to Oli Cornelius, Williams and Busbridge, while man of the match Coombs came closest with an angled shot which was brilliantly saved by the Ashford goalkeeper.

Acott made certain of the points minutes from time as he collected Chris Meredith’s pass and nonchalantly rounded the goalkeeper with dazzling footwork, and footwear, before firing high into the net.

Both sides had chances in a frantic finale, but it was Saxons who claimed a crucial win, despite being without the suspended Gavin Cload.

Saxons gave a debut to Marc Eijsvogel and a competitive debut to Josh Barraclough, illustrating the strength in depth of the squad for 2019.

Another big game is coming up this coming Saturday (push-back 1.30pm) as Saxons host second-placed Marden Russets. Saxons are four points behind Marden having played an extra match.