South Saxons back in action against league leaders

South Saxons captain Paddy Cornish defending against Hailsham at the start of last month. Picture by Simon Newstead
South Saxons captain Paddy Cornish defending against Hailsham at the start of last month. Picture by Simon Newstead

South Saxons Hockey Club men’s first team captain Paddy Cornish believes a top three finish is certainly possible heading into the second half of the season.

Saxons are set to resume their South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 programme after the festive break sitting in fourth place - one point behind third-placed Gillingham Anchorians.

Cornish said: “I think top three is possible. Gillingham are a point above us and they came up last year so they’ve done really well. The aim is to get in front of them, get in to third and from then anything can happen.

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“The main aim, though, is to beat the overall points total from the previous years. As long as we’re improving year on year, that’s the main thing.

“I don’t think we’re completely ready to get promoted, but we’ll always keep pushing for it.”

Saxons’ skipper believes ‘we’ll know where we’re at’ by the end of the month as the first three games after the resumption are all against top five opposition, starting with back-to-back matches against the top two.

The Horntye Park-based club will host leaders Ashford tomorrow (Saturday, push-back 1.30pm) and second-placed Marden Russets next weekend before travelling to Canterbury [3] Pilgrims on Saturday January 26.

Still unbeaten Ashford, incidentally, have won all nine of their fixtures since drawing 2-2 at home to Saxons in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the campaign.

“It’s a tough opening to the second half, but I’m confident against anyone when we’re at home,” continued Cornish. “I think we can get at least four points out of the first two games, if not more.”

Saxons have picked up 20 points from their 10 encounters so far and headed in to the festive break on the back of four consecutive victories.

“We’re pleased with the points total so far, we’ve got more than we did (at the same stage) last year,” continued Cornish. “We were quite pleased to get a win away at Southwick towards the end of the year - that was a big win because we’ve struggled there the last couple of years.

“The more difficult games in the second half are at home - Ashford, Marden, Gillingham, Southwick. If we get the same points total as the first half, we’ll be in a good position.”

Saxons staged a productive training game involving the first and second teams last weekend, and resumed their regular Tuesday night training sessions this week.

Gavin Cload is suspended for tomorrow’s match, but Josh Barraclough, who is back from university, is expected to make his debut.

Saxons’ men’s second team will be in action immediately before the front side as it hosts Crowborough firsts in Sussex Open Hockey League Division One. Push-back is 12noon.