South Saxons produce stunning fightback to beat title hopefuls

Alex Coombs takes on a pair of opposing defenders during South Saxons' 4-3 win at home to Marden Russets. Picture by Simon Newstead
Alex Coombs takes on a pair of opposing defenders during South Saxons' 4-3 win at home to Marden Russets. Picture by Simon Newstead

South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team defeated top two opposition for the second successive Saturday.

Saxons followed up their 3-1 win at home to South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 leaders Ashford by coming from 3-1 down to beat second-placed Marden Russets 4-3.

Third-placed Saxons, who have won their last six contests, are now just a point behind second-placed Marden having played an extra game.

See also: * South Saxons versus Marden Russets in pictures
* South Saxons versus Ashford picture special
* South Saxons inflict first defeat on league leaders

With Marden not having played since December 8, Saxons set themselves the task of catching the visitors cold after their long winter break.

Saxons started with good possession and a clever Andrew Acott pass led to a chance for Jamie Busbridge which was saved by the goalkeeper.

The pressure was maintained and Saxons opened the scoring from a short corner. The ball eventually found its way to Josh Elliot, who finished on his reverse for his maiden first team goal.

Marden soon came into the game and controlled possession for long periods without really threatening, until a melee in the D led to an equaliser.

As Saxons tried to reclaim the ball, a number of cards were issued, including greens for Busbridge and Lloyd Williams, and a yellow for Will Orr.

Marden won a short corner in the latter stages of the first half and duly converted to lead 2-1. It could have been worse for Saxons as captain Paddy Cornish made a stunning clearance off the line from another corner.

Marden came out looking more dangerous in the second half and George Sutton, deputising for his injured father in the home goal, made a string of saves to keep the score down, ably assisted by the defensive line of Orr, Dave Waters and Cornish.

Marden, however, did find a third goal and that was soon followed by another green card, this time waved at Alex Coombs.

Buoyed by the crowd and their unbeaten home record, Saxons pushed forward and a well-worked short corner routine featuring a one-two between Coombs and Jon Meredith ended with the former applying the finish.

Acott then found some space to score the equaliser after good work from Oli Cornelius, who undoubtedly had his best game for Saxons.

Going into the final 10 minutes, Saxons were well on top. The pressure told when Busbridge won a short corner and the ball found Coombs to put Saxons 4-3 up with four minutes remaining.

The drama wasn’t done, though. From the restart a Marden forward ran straight at Busbridge, who made a strong tackle which the umpire deemed worthy of a yellow card.

Saxons had to survive two short corners in a nervy finish, but held on for a fine victory. First team debutant George Sutton was man of the match.

Saxons will travel to fifth-placed Canterbury [3] Pilgrims this coming Saturday.

South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2 top five (played-points): 1 Ashford 12-31, 2 Marden Russets 11-27, 3 SOUTH SAXONS 12-26, 4 Gillingham Anchorians 12-24, 5 Canterbury [3] Pilgrims 11-20.