Sevenoaks hosted Oxford Hawks in their final home league game of the season on Saturday in front of a large crowd of supporters and sponsors. Oaks knew that anything other than a win would give Oxted the opportunity to wrap up the league the following day when they faced Fareham.
In spite of missing several key players, including player-coach Ian Haley, Oaks made a decent start to the game, controlling possession well and looking threatening around the final third. However, it was Hawks who had the better opportunities in the opening exchanges, as their aggressive high press created some turnovers deep into Oaks territory and but for a loose final pass Hawks could have taken the lead on a couple of occasions. Richard Potton was on hand to make a couple of decent saves, whilst Ben Fox made two excellent clearances off the post from penalty corners. Oaks had a few chances of their own but it took until the 32nd minute to break the deadlock when a penalty corner won by Fox, was converted by Andrew Ross, after a neat move at the top of the D, to make it 1-0. That was how it remained at half-time.
Oxford Hawks continued to contribute to an excellent game of hockey, pouncing on Oaks errors and high-pressing to force further errors. Man of the match Potton, in the Oaks goal, had to be at his best to deny Hawks on a good few occasions. Oaks saw three players sin-binned for minor infractions in the second half, which slightly halted their progress, but in spite of this they had a few glorious opportunities to extend their lead, firstly when a slick move ended with the ball falling to George Torry with the goal gaping but a stunning recovery save by the Hawks keeper kept the ball out. Shortly after Ed Matts was picked out by a superb long ball by Ross, but his reverse stick effort was weak and easily saved by the keeper.
Oaks had a number of penalty corners, but the Hawks keeper dealt with them with relative comfort. With seven minutes remaining Oaks did finally manage to double their lead when some excellent play involving Nick Barker and Alex Thomson saw the latter slap the ball across goal where Torry was on hand to tap in at the far post to make it 2-0. Hawks responded with a couple of late penalty corners but were unable to convert and the full time whistle blew with Oaks 2-0 victors.
The win briefly took Oaks to within two points of leaders Oxted, but an 11 nil win for them against bottom of the league Fareham on Sunday means they remain five points clear with only two games remaining. The win also preserved an unbeaten home record for Sevenoaks; winning eight and drawing one of their home league games this season.
So, there is work to be done on their away form ahead of next season. It appears increasingly unlikely that Oxted will slip up enough for Oaks to capitalise, but the team have responded well with four consecutive victories after two disappointing defeats after the Christmas break.
The two remaining games are away to Teddington (Sunday 15th) and Southgate (Sunday 22nd).