On Saturday Saints travelled to the picturesque town of Hailsham for a game which both sides needed to win to ease any danger in the bottom half of the table.
Hailsham v St Francis: Saints started brightly and went ahead early through a fortunate deflection off a Hailsham stick after the ball was firmly struck into the D. From then on the first half was dominated by the home side who pilled on the pressure with attack after attack, most of which were instigated by their playmaker in midfield.
Saints found it tough to deal with his close control and dribbling skills, which eventually lead to fouls being committed in and round the D. A penalty corner was eventually converted, again through and deflection to draw Hailsham level. Saints then lost their heads rather and just before the break a statement from the skipper, strangely, led to a 16 being reversed into a penalty corner which was again converted and Hailsham when into the break in the lead.
A few choice words from the coach at half time appeared to have the desired effect as Saints were much the better side at the start of the 2nd half, but they would eventually rue a series of missed chances from their forward line.
Saints could have been out of sight, but as they pilled forward towards then end of the game, Hailsham hit them on the counter and scored a very good 3rd goal to leave Saints with a mountain to climb. At this point Saints were again guilty of losing their heads and 2 tackles which were more reminiscent of a lumberjack competition meant they were down to 9 men at one point. Hailsham finished much the stronger and Saints had keeper Matt to thank for keeping the score at 3-1.
St Francis 2XI - 2 v 2 - Brighton 4XI
For the third week in a row a different looking Saints faced a side that they were close to performance wise in the first meeting on the season and in league position. This aside it would still need a good performance get new players settled to get as a team.
This did not seem to be too much of an issue and from the get go new player to the side this season George Bazire and Tom Harvey were linking up with the half’s around them well to provide good hockey going forward.
Though both teams had forays in to each other’s D it was Saints that were constructing the better hockey going forward as Brighton were opting for the long ball option. As the half wore on the saints peppered the Brighton D. Good work and balls in from the left right and down the middle were struggling to be converted as clear chances on goal were wasted.
A rare break away from saint rather than the build up that had been more common saw Tom Harvey receive the ball wide on the left just in side the B’ton half. Andy Lineham set off down the opposite touch line in wide open space. As Harvey was closed down some felt the chance had passed, then at the last second he produced an arrow straight pass all the way across the pitch to find Andy’s stick rushing in on the D. The keeper charging out Andy Lineham cooly finished like a seasoned play he is developing in to rapidly. Brighton pressed back after the restart to end the half ensuring the saints defenders and keeper were also at there best as they closed out the half at 1-0.
The second half saw saints press harder than they had in the first. With ball being moved freely through the back line and in to the half’s the pressure was beginning to build. A common route in the half was created through the excellent movement of Doug Bridges allowing Richard Drake to fire the ball at will in to the Brighton D, about 10-15 times without an attacker being able to get a stick on the ball. The pressure was rewarded shortly afterwards as Calum Lumbard converted well to make it 2-0. Brighton began to rally, and were shortly 2-1 behind with 10 mins left to play. Saints became twitchy. The calm heads and cool passing that had got Saints in to the led began to break down. Brighton pounced on a mistake and levelled the scores at 2-2. A gutted Saints side pushed maybe too hard in the last mins to try and give a truer reflection of the game but to no avail as the scores remained 2-2. Though this may have been two points that saints let slip through their hands missed opportunities and a loss of cool may have defeated saint on the day.
MoM - John Tullett - for tireless work through the midfield and running one at short corners like a thunder bolt.
Saints 3’s visited Lewes in confident mood having won their previous 5 games and looking to continue a winning run in order to maintain pressure on Horsham at the top of a competetive Division 4 in the County league. Instructions were to be on guard from the offset against a number of wily and hardened old timers in the Lewes lineup. Saints threw themselves into the game and stopped Lewes settling by winning a number of early challenges to impose their presence on the game. Whilst the hockey was not always pretty, Saints were content with the earlly exchanges and scored the opener with good work from Steve Branagan who set up Brendan Sheil to send a shot towards goal only to be thwarted by predator Janek Lewandowski to deflect and add to his seasons goal tally. Saints continued to pressure the Lewes defence and won a short corner at which Tim Furber and Neil Henry stepped up to offer a further threat to the Lewes goal. Brendan Sheil pushed out and Neil Henry sent in a rasping and unstoppable shot to take Saints to the half time break with a deserved 2-0 lead.
Half time discussions revolved around Martin Feltham stressing the need to remain focused and disciplined and that Saints needed to retain their shape, consequently, James Peel playing left midfield took it upon himself to play on the right therefore requiring all around him to adapt. Gabriel Mohammed playing left back also had ambitions to make his mark and pushed forward at every opportunity. Ed Whitehead having been hospitalised and requring stitces in a head wound from the previous week seemed somewhat withdrawn at the offset but soon regained confidence and grew into the game. Jack Foulger seemed to be on the receiving end of challenges in early exchanges and needed to be sidelined by injury only to bring his pristine shoes to the field for the second half, he worked effortlessly with Brendan Sheil in the heart of midfield and helped to create openings for young, soon to be a man, strker, Josh Jones, who failed to convert but worked well for the team as the Saints continue to defend from the front.
Although Saints were dominant, Richard Foulger was called upon to make a number of saves in goal and it is to his credit that he wins man of the match for turning up for the 3’s and achieving his first clean sheet of the season. Saints 3’s retain the best defensive record in the county and will look to consolidate on this as the season draws to an end.
This week sees a top of the table clash with Saints 3’s entertaining Horsham with a large crowd expected at St Pauls.
Great Win for 4’s!!
After weeks of playing in rain and hail Saints 4’s welcomed Horsham 4’s to a very sunny St Paul’s on Saturday.
A much changed saints team seemed inspired by the change in the weather and started the game well. New keeper Pat Gannon was hardly troubled in the first half and the defence of stand in skipper Peter Fermer, Stuart and James Campbell and new boy Toby Rolph kept Horsham out and also set up some good attacking moves.
A period of sustained pressure finally paid off when a ball from the sideline was worked to James Campbell to drive the ball into the D from the 23 metre line. The ball was deflected into the goal by a Horsham defender but did it get a final touch from Tyrone Stoner. One for the dubious goals committee but what really mattered was that Saints led 1-0 at half time.
The second half started with Saints again pushing forward with wide men Luke Alum and Callum Nourish providing some good balls into the D for strikers Billy Donohoe and Jack McDonald but Saints failed to increase their lead.
Gradually Horsham started to push forward but Nick Budibent and Tyrone Stoner did a great job in the centre of midfield to prevent too much pressure on the Saints D. When Horsham did break through keeper Gannon was more than up to the job and made one great save high to his left.
The last 10 minutes saw Horsham force a series of short corners but these were well defended and the final whistle saw Saints earn a hard fought 1-0 win over a much higher placed team. Man of the match was Toby Rolph but all Saints players should be very proud of their performance!