South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team moved one step closer to title glory with an emphatic 5-1 win at home to Brighton & Hove III on Saturday.
An Olli Beal hat-trick fired Saxons to a victory which keeps them top of Sussex Open Hockey League Division One on goal difference with one game remaining.
With skipper Jamie Busbridge out injured, Jon Meredith took the armband and Saxons found themselves behind 10 minutes in. Home goalkeeper Mike Sutton was caught by surprise by a penalty corner which, in his view, was fired in from outside the D.
Saxons levelled almost immediately, however, when Meredith drove forward from the centre circle and laid the ball off to the enigmatic Alex Coombs, who found Beal unmarked in the D with a perfect aerial ball and Beal fired home the equaliser.
Saxons went in at half time ahead as Coombs added to the score with a trademark drag flick into the back of the net.
In the second half, Saxons showed more of the form which has seen them lead the table for most of the season as they started to exert control.
Man of the match Chris Meredith was a constant threat driving up the right flank, and the pace and power of the home side began to overwhelm seventh-placed Brighton.
Saxons made it 3-1 when good work from John Morgan led to Beal finding himself with just the goalkeeper to beat and once again he made no mistake.
Beal turned provider for the fourth goal when he found Coombs with a pinpoint pass from the corner to the top of the D and top scorer Coombs added another to his tally by smashing the ball home.
Beal got the reward for his hard work when he completed his hat-trick as Coombs found him in the D and the centre-forward finished in style, sending the ball into the roof of the net.
Saxons will enjoy a week off over Easter before playing their final game at home to ninth-placed East Grinstead III on Saturday April 2. A win there would secure the title and promotion.
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