Sevenoaks compete well with league leaders

England Hockey Mens Premier League: Sevenoaks 2 Surbiton 5

Sevenoaks welcomed top of the league Surbiton to Hollybush Lane on Sunday. Oaks made a strong start to the game, containing Surbiton to possession in non-dangerous areas and threatening on the counter attack.

It was Oaks who had the first opportunity of the game when they won a penalty corner in the 13th minute, but Brandon Gibbs saw his effort saved by the keeper. Surbiton cleared the ball and countered on Oaks, who had men committed forwards, and a loose ball in the D was pounded upon by the Surbiton forward and smashed into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Four minutes later Surbiton attacked down the left hand side and their forward picked up the ball on the base line; despite a clear stick block a penalty corner was awarded.

The effort on goal was saved on the line but struck Nick Barker’s foot on the line and a penalty stroke was awarded, and converted to make it 2-0.

The Oaks response was positive and within two minutes they’d pulled a goal back when good work in the D from Ben Fox and Ali Taylor saw the ball slung across goal where Tim Warrington volleyed last the keeper into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.

Surbiton showed why they are top of the league with a swift reply, and a slick passing move carved Oaks apart and finished with the forward firing past Richard Potton in the Oaks goal to make it 3-1.

Oaks then had chances to pull themselves back into the game but a reverse stick effort by Tom Chandler cleared the cross bar and a cross-come-shot from Tom Graham couldn’t be touched in at the far post, so it remained 3-1 as the sides went into the half time break.

The home side continued to compete well, but we’re not helped by some questionable officiating, and not long into the second half Surbiton were awarded their second penalty stroke of the game, which was scored to make it 4-1.

Shortly after Nick Barker was sin-binned for an innocuous incident in the middle of the pitch, and Surbiton immediately punished Oaks, making the most of their extra man to make it 5-1.

Sevenoaks then continued to push forwards, and despite three penalty corners and a reverse stick effort that flashed just wide from Taylor they couldn’t pull themselves back into the game. With one minute remaining the Sevenoaks man of the match Chris Barker scored a superb individual goal, eliminating three or four Surbiton defenders before smashing into the bottom corner to make it 5-2, and that remained the full time score.

As Oaks go into the last game before the winter break, they sit bottom of the table on just 2 points from 9 games, and will need to start picking up some points soon to avoid being cut adrift.
Next week they welcome East Grinstead to Hollybush Lane, and having narrowly lost 3-2 in the away fixture they will be looking to make the most of home advantage to try and go into Christmas with three points.