Sevenoaks battle with Brighton and the elements

ENGLAND HOCKEY MENS DIVISION ONE SOUTH: BRIGHTON 3 SEVENOAKS 3

Sunday saw a depleted Sevenoaks travel to the South coast to face Brighton and Hove, with the visitors seeking to bounce back from a narrow loss to Kent rivals Canterbury. Despite the best efforts of Storm Eunice the fixture produced quality phases of play as the players battled the opposition and the strong gusts.

Sevenoaks got off to their best start of the season with a series of promising attacks culminating in a penalty corner win, which was fired home by Paul Macleod giving the visitors an early lead. The lead was doubled shortly after as the Sevenoaks press forced a turnover in midfield and gave James Thomas the space to thread a pass into the Brighton D which fell to January signing Kieran Walton who calmly slotted the chance. As the game settled, long periods of possession from Sevenoaks were met with threatening counter attacks from the Brighton forwards. This breakaway threat resulted in the home side pulling themselves back into the game just before the end of the first quarter after a well-saved rebound from a penalty corner fell to a Brighton player who converted the chance.

The first half finished with the scores at 2-1 to the visitors. Eager to regain their two goal lead, Sevenoaks started the second half much like the first with the men in purple moving the ball through the lines fluidly before Ben Alberry finished off the well-worked chance. Sevenoaks looked to stretch the lead further with Man of the Match Ed Matts causing problems for the Brighton defence and January signing Cody Van Wyk’s backhand effort narrowly missing the far post. Ben Alberry was denied his brace shortly after, as a well-worked opportunity from a penalty corner was kept out by the Brighton keeper. However, in seemingly typical fashion, Brighton clawed their way back into the game with Joe Naughalty getting on the end of a dangerous pass from the flank and deflecting it past Richard Potton.

The home side kept the pressure on after cutting the Sevenoaks lead to just one goal. Richard Potton kept out a Brighton penalty corner and the Sevenoaks defence held firm. After regaining control of the game Sevenoaks thought they had put the game to bed when Nathan Palmer’s shot ricocheted off a Brighton shin pad and into the goal, only to be denied for dangerous play. After James Beck’s effort from a penalty corner slipped just wide of the left post, Brighton started to throw everything they had at the visitors in search of an equaliser. The Sevenoaks defence looked to be soaking up the pressure well with Craig Morton and Nick Barker making a number of vital interceptions and tackles. However, with a few minutes left on the clock, Brighton were able to work the ball to the baseline and feed it across goal to a waiting forward who opportunistically lifted the ball into the back of the net. With the scores levelled at 3-3, both teams ran out of time to secure a winner and the points had to be shared.

It wasn’t to be for the travelling Sevenoaks, who were bitterly disappointed to see their two-goal lead disappear after one of their best attacking performances of the season. While the result was not what they wanted there are plenty of positives to build on going into next weekend where Sevenoaks travel to Southgate for a battle under the lights on Saturday evening.