Sevenoaks get first point on the road but late equaliser will feel like a loss

MENS HOCKEY LEAGUE DIVISION ONE SOUTH: Bath Buccaneers 1 Sevenoaks 1

Credit: Sue Sheeres

Sevenoaks men’s 1st XI registered their first point of the season on Sunday afternoon with a 1-1 draw away at Bath Buccaneers. Unfortunately for Oaks it will feel like two points dropped rather than a point gained, having lead for the vast majority of the match before a late equaliser robbed them of all three points.

In atrocious conditions, with persistent wind and rain throughout the game, Oaks got off to a strong start, getting significant joy down the right hand side, winning two penalty corners. The first one was well saved behind for a long corner by the Bath keeper, but from the second James Thomas pounced on the rebound to volley Oaks into the lead after only eight minutes. The remainder of the first quarter passed with little incident. In the second quarter Bath began to gain a foothold in the game and earned a penalty corner of their own but it was well defended by the Oaks defensive unit. A period of sloppy play from Oaks allowed Bath a couple of turnover opportunities, one of which saw the Bath attacker break one on one towards Richard Potton in the Oaks goal, but the Oaks keeper managed to do enough with his angles to force the shot wide. A let off for Oaks. A fine move for Oaks led to a reverse stick effort from Ian Haley from the top of the D but his shot sailed high over the crossbar and the sides went into the half time break with Oaks leading 1-0.

At the start of the third quarter Bath pushed high up the pitch in a man to man press, which initially caused Oaks a few issues out-letting, leading to some cheap turnovers but Bath failed to create any open play chances of note. A couple of Bath penalty corners came and went with no score, from which a drag flick forced a sharp save from Richard Potton in the Oaks goal. Sevenoaks were unlucky not to extend their lead when another good move saw Haley slide a reverse stick pass to Ben Allberry on the right hand baseline and his deflected effort was well smothered by the keeper. In the fourth quarter Bath continued to search for an equaliser but in general their direct approach of crashing balls into the D was well contended with by the Oaks defence. With seven minutes remaining on the clock a soft, bobbling ball across the D skipped off the wet playing surface and somehow made its way through four Oaks defenders allowing a Bath forward a tap in on the goal line to draw the sides level. The Oaks response was strong and they flooded forwards in search of a winner, earning themselves four penalty corners in the dying minutes of the game. The first effort was saved up in the air by the keeper and a second corner was awarded. From the second corner the ball struck the foot of the number one runner and resulted in a third corner. The initial effort was saved and a wild challenge on Craig Morton as he went to convert the rebound was lucky not to result in a penalty stroke, and instead saw another penalty corner. This time the initial effort was saved again and the rebound dropped to Tim Warrington but he skewed his shot wide of goal and the umpires blew for full time with the scores tied at 1-1.

Next week Oaks are away from home again, this time on the south coast at Havant, who have lost their opening two games of the season. Oaks will be keen to put in a better performance than they did last season at Havant and will hope to register their first three points of the season.