Sevenoaks show steel at Hollybush Lane

Mens Hockey League Premier Division: Sevenoaks 0 Hampstead & Westminster 2

Sevenoaks narrowly lost out to Hampstead and Westminster (H&W) at Hollybush Lane on Sunday in a hard fought game.

On paper it looked like it would be a tough game, with H&W having won all of their three games and Oaks starting the season with one point from their opening three games. However, Oaks got off to a strong start, applying significant early pressure to their visitors, but they were unable to make it count with regards the score line.

After six minutes, H&W, with their first attack of note, scored the softest of goals after a quickly taken free-hit saw a lifted ball across goal that found its way to the far post where it was tapped in by an unmarked forward to make it 1-0. H&W won a couple of penalty corners but were unable to add to their score. Oaks continued to play some excellent hockey but failed to put the finishing touches to good approach play to test the H&W keeper.

With just under ten minutes to half-time H&W doubled their lead when a ball into the Oaks D was touched beyond Richard Potton in the Oaks goal and weakly dribbled over the line to make it 2-0. Another soft looking goal and quite deflating for Oaks having matched their opponents for much of the game.

The second half saw Oaks have to weather a bit of a storm as they received two green cards and a yellow card, sending players to the sin-bin, meaning Oaks played about nine minutes with H&W enjoying a numerical advantage. A solid defensive display, marshalled by man of the match Chris Barker, meant H&W were unable to add to their tally despite a couple more penalty corners and a shot from open play rebounding off the post.

Oaks had a penalty corner of their own but number one drag-flicker Andrew Ross was off the pitch at the time. Duncan Parnis worked the keeper with his effort and Gurmukh Bhamra followed up with the rebound, which looked destined to find the back of the net, but the visiting keeper pulled off an excellent save. Oaks continued to push for a goal to get them back into the game, but H&W held firm and the final whistle went with the score still 2-0 to the visitors.

Sevenoaks will travel to Wimbledon next week to meet last season’s league winners, who have endured a difficult start to the season losing their opening three games.