Sevenoaks in need of a great escape

England Hockey Mens Premier League: Sevenoaks 2 University of Exeter 3

For the second week in a row Sevenoaks threw away a half-time lead to come out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, this time at home to fellow strugglers University of Exeter. In what was a must-win game, the defeat now means Sevenoaks are four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League with only six games remaining and require a great escape to avoid relegation.

Sevenoaks made a bright start and won a couple of early penalty corners, but unfortunately couldn’t take advantage of these. Exeter responded with a penalty corner of their own, and were more clinical than Oak, slotting the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors. 

The Sevenoaks response was good and four minutes later they were on level terms, when Ed Matts nicked the ball off the Exeter defender and the ball fell to Ali Taylor who was fouled in the D and a penalty stroke was awarded. Andrew Ross stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 1-1 after 16 minutes. Oaks continued to have the better of the first half, winning a couple more penalty corners, the second of which was scored by Andrew Ross just before half-time to give Oaks a 2-1 lead at the break.

Early in the second half, Oaks won another penalty corner but were wasteful again, not getting a proper shot away. Midway through the half a turnover deep in Sevenoaks territory gave the Exeter forward a free run on goal and he was able to slip underneath the advancing Richard Potton in the Oaks goal to level the scores at 2-2. 

The remainder of the game consisted of Oaks pressing forwards, dominating possession, and Exeter playing on the counter attack.  This was how the game was to be settled – with one minute remaining on the clock, Oaks were in an advanced position and the ball was played into Nick Barker on the edge of the D. He was clattered into by an untidy Exeter challenge – but no foul was given due to a supposed advantage which came to nothing. 

Exeter then threw an aerial pass downfield and the forward received, squared across goal for another forward to slide in and finish to make the score 3-2. A sucker punch for Oaks who had dominated large portions of the game, and once again conceded in the closing stages of the game to lose 3-2.

Oaks will now need to pull off an astonishing escape to avoid relegation. They travel to second placed Hampstead and Westminster next week to try and cause an upset.