South Saxons Hockey Club men’s first team began its league campaign on Saturday rocked by a serious injury to its star player.
George Eldridge broke his kneecap in a skateboarding accident two days earlier and will be in a cast for six weeks. Saxons aren’t expecting him to return to action until after Christmas.
Eldridge was returning to the club this season after a few seasons away at university and showcased his considerable talents with a hat-trick in the Sussex Cup win over Lewes last month.
His absence will be a major blow to Saxons as they make the step up to South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 after winning the Sussex Open Hockey League title last term.
Without Eldridge, Saxons were edged out 4-3 away to Rochester-based Old Williamsonians.
Saxons were keen to get on the ball from the start and looked good in possession during the opening phases, but the home side pounced on a misplaced pass before taking the lead.
Williamsonians added two more goals in quick succession as Saxons tried to adjust to the opposition’s formation. The scoreline could have been worse but for a string of saves from Mike Sutton in the away goal.
The promoted side regrouped after 20 minutes and started to work their way back into the game. A flowing move through Andy Acott found Olli Beal on the wing and he threaded a pin-point pass to Alex Coombs, who rounded the goalkeeper to pull one back.
The half time talk looked to address the system which had seen overloads created for the opposition. Saxons started the second period well, but a yellow card for ill-discipline meant they had to see out a spell with 10 men.
Williamsonians took full advantage during this period to go 4-1 up. Two late goals made the scoreline look respectable, with Coombs setting up Beal for Saxons’ second before scoring a drag flick for his second with the last act of the game.
Will Orr was man of the match for a solid performance, but fellow central midfielder Jon Meredith was a close second.
Saxons: Sutton, C. Meredith, Cload, Reed, A. Orr, W. Orr, J. Meredith, Cornish, Coombs, Acott, Beal, Busbridge.
Tudor Stainsby will be added to the squad for Saxons’ opening home league game of the season against Canterbury Pilgrims tomorrow (Saturday). Push-back at Horntye Park Sports Complex is 1.30pm.