It’s a mayoral occasion as Oaks unlucky not to get first win

England Hockey Mens Premier League: Sevenoaks 2 East Grinstead 2

Sevenoaks ended the first half of the Premier League season with a 2-2 draw against East Grinstead on Saturday night as the two sides played out an entertaining match in front of a bumper crowd including the Mayors of both Sevenoaks and East Grinstead, and Sevenoaks District Council Chairman Cllr Pat Bosley.

Oaks started the game on the front foot and in the opening 10 minutes they won a penalty corner but were unable to convert. East Grinstead replied with a reverse stick shot from wide left in the D that Richard Potton did well to turn over the crossbar. Oaks were the side who looked most likely to open the scoring though, as first Tim Warrington had a chance from close range that was well saved by the goalkeeper’s trailing leg, and then Duncan Parnis saw his shot smothered by the keeper from 5 yards out. The game was delayed 10 minutes as the floodlights temporarily switched off, but that didn’t take the spark out of the game, and as half time approached Oaks nearly took the lead when a turnover deep in the East Grinstead half saw Ali Taylor blast a reverse stick effort wide when anything on target would have been a near certain goal. The sides went into the break locked together at 0-0.

After the break, East Grinstead took the lead from a penalty corner to make it 1-0. The Oaks reaction was good and they went straight down the other end and won a penalty corner of their own, but as has so often been the case this season they couldn’t find the back of the net from the set piece. Midway through the second half East Grinstead were reduced to 10 men for 5 minutes as their midfielder was sent to the sin-bin and Oaks took full advantage. Firstly the Sevenoaks man of the match Gurmukh Bhamra skilfully won another penalty corner, which Parnis converted to draw the sides level at 1-1, and then a minute later Oaks took a 2-1 lead when Ed Matts tapped in at the far post after good work from Ben Fox. Unfortunately for Sevenoaks the lead was to be short lived as East Grinstead almost immediately won a penalty corner of their own and converted to bring the sides level again at 2-2 with 10 minutes remaining. Both sides had opportunities to win the game in the closing few minutes but neither side could take them, and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The point takes Oaks onto 3 points, and they remain bottom of the table as the league heads into a winter break until February. Oaks will feel like they dropped two points having led with only 12 minutes remaining, but the level of performance was encouraging and should send them into the break with confidence that they can compete with every team in the league and there are plenty of points still to be won. A subsection of the squad will now compete in the Indoor Premier League in December and January – as Oaks look to qualify for finals night for the 4th time in 5 years.