Life in top flight is nearly over for Purple Army

England Hockey League Mens Premier Division: Sevenoaks 1 Holcombe 3

Credit: Sue Sheeres

Whilst Sevenoaks are still not mathematically relegated defeat to Holcombe on Saturday evening means they must now win each of their last three games and hope that Exeter get nothing from their remaining three games. Given Sevenoaks still have to play league leaders Surbiton and they’ve failed to register a win all season, the odds are somewhat stacked against them.

Despite a positive start on Saturday, a familiar pattern played out as their visitors scored with practically their first foray into the Sevenoaks defensive D. A mix up between defender and goalkeeper saw the loose ball drop to a forward lurking nearby, who gratefully accepted the ball and flicked into an empty net to put Holcombe 1-0 up after only four minutes.

Oaks rallied and had a lot of ball in the following few minutes, and pressure told when an excellent run by Chris Barker along the left hand baseline saw him pull the ball back to Tim Warrington to finished first time into the backboard to draw the sides level at 1-1 after eight minutes. The remainder of the half was a relatively even affair with Oaks looking threatening whilst rarely forcing the Holcombe keeper into action. Holcombe has the better chances with a string of penalty corners but they couldn’t convert any of them, and the half-time score remained 1-1.

The second half continued with both sides pushing and probing for victory. Midway through the half an Oaks attack broke down on the edge of the Holcombe D with a loose pass. The subsequent counter attack saw Holcombe win a penalty corner which they converted to make the score 2-1.

These are the fine margins that Oaks have faced all season – being on the edge of the opponents D one second, looking dangerous in attack before loosing possession and conceding moments later. Oaks responded positively and earned a penalty corner but a mis-trap at the top of the D meant they were unable to get a shot away. Within a minute the game was beyond them as a hopeful ball forwards from Holcombe somehow eluded three Oaks players before finding their forward in the Oaks D. The forward slipped the ball sideways to his strike partner who tapped into the empty net to make the score 3-1. Sevenoaks pushes and pushed for a way back into the game but they couldn’t break through, and the final score remained 3-1.

Oaks now travel to Brooklands in Manchester next weekend and depending on results their relegation could be confirmed come Sunday afternoon.