Oaks start to think about life after National Premier

England Hockey Mens Premier: Brooklands Manchester University 6 Sevenoaks 4

Sevenoaks were officially relegated from the National Premier Division on Sunday after a bizarre 6-4 defeat away to Brooklands MU.

As has often been the case this season, Sevenoaks started well and we’re enjoying some good territory but Brooklands with practically their first attack opened the scoring when the Oaks defence allowed the Brooklands forward too much space in the D and he fired a reverse stick strike into the back of the net to make it 1-0. Almost immediately Oaks gifted Brooklands a second when a harmless ball into the D was given straight back to the attacker who scored from a narrow angle to make it 2-0.

The Oaks response was superb and they pulled a goal back when Tim Warrington latched onto a George Lilley pass and rounded two defenders before unleashing a powerful shot on goal that went between the keeper’s legs to make it 2-1. Oaks had the better of the remainder of the half, with Craig Morton having a lofted shot cleared off the line. Oaks also had five penalty corners to draw level but failed to score any of them and entered half time 2-1 down.

Oaks again started the second half well but conceded with Brooklands first foray forwards. A sideline hit was taken quickly and the forward managed to run all the way into the D unchallenged before sliding a reverse shot under Potton to make it 3-1. Brooklands then added a controversial 4th and 5th. First a penalty stroke was awarded and converted after the Brooklands forward did an air shot in the build up to the award of the penalty, and second when the Oaks defender was shoved off the ball in the D before the forward converted a reverse stick shot.

At 5-1 down Oaks rallied and Duncan Parnis pulled a goal back with a powerfully struck reverse stick strike into the corner of the net to make it 5-2. The hope was short-lived though as a turnover in midfield saw Brooklands score on the counter attack to make it 6-2.

To their credit Oaks continued to fight and Tim Warrington added his second goal of the game after a slick move involving Morton, Parnis and Ed Matts ended with Warrington firing through the keeper’s legs on his reverse to make it 6-3. Shortly after Oaks were back within two goals when Andrew Ross lifted the ball over the advancing keeper and Andrew Oxburgh volleyed the loose ball home for 6-4. Oaks had another three or four penalty corners in the second half which, in addition to the five in the first half could have seen them easily win the game, but profligacy in their set pieces cost them dearly, as it has done all season, and the full time score ended 6-4 to Brooklands.

The result means Sevenoaks can no longer catch Exeter ahead of them in the relegation playoff spot, and they will be automatically relegated into Division One South next season.

They still have two games remaining against 1st place Surbiton and 3rd place Beeston to enjoy the end of their stay at the top table of English Hockey.