Saxons return with key clash

Jamie Busbridge, right, will miss South Saxons Hockey Club's opening game of 2014 through holiday. Picture by Simon Newstead

Jamie Busbridge, right, will miss South Saxons Hockey Club's opening game of 2014 through holiday. Picture by Simon Newstead

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South Saxons return to action following the Christmas break with a crucial relegation battle on home astroturf.

The Hastings-based side faces third-from-bottom Cliftonville tomorrow (Saturday) in a match which was originally scheduled for November before torrential rain made the artificial surface unplayable.

Both teams have since struggled in South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 and are separated only by the visitors’ superior goal difference on six points.

Saxons captain Paddy Cornish appreciates how crucial the match is in the battle against the drop, especially as they are playing one of the few ‘first teams’ in the league.

“Apart from Mid-Sussex, Cliftonville are the only other first team near the bottom, so we know we’ll be playing their best XI,” said Cornish. “They can’t drop players down, this is what they have - it’s a big game against their true team.”

Saxons have failed to win since the opening day triumph away to Sevenoaks II, though they did record a notable draw away to high-flying King’s & Alleyn’s.

Cornish added: “Our main target is to avoid relegation. We’ve been a bit disappointed so far, but we still have more points than we expected at the beginning of the season - and we’ve had some decent results, like the draw away to King’s.”

Cornish expects to field a strong side as key player George Eldridge is back from university, although Jamie Busbridge is on holiday. He said: “We’re confident. There was a good spirit at the last training session - hopefully we can get maximum points.”