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Brighton place their faith in youth as season ends

Brighton place their faith in youth as season ends

David Chappell26 Mar - 16:07
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Men's review - 4s fate down to the last game of the season v Lewes, 9s claim third place

Bath Buccaneers 1s 3
BHHC 1s 2

With an eye on the future Brighton & Hove picked four under-17s for their final men's national league game of the season at Bath on Sunday.

Aaron Patel, Malachi Hayes, Patrick Ford and 15-year-old Josiah Wood all acquitted themselves well as Brighton's difficult Division One South campaign - which has seen them relegated - ended with a creditable display in defeat.

With Bath still in danger of joining Brighton in tier three next season, the hosts had plenty to play for and took an early lead from a penalty stroke. But Joe Naughalty levelled matters from a short corner that had broken down and going into the final quarter the game was in the balance.

Bath sealed victory and safety by scoring twice more before Naughalty converted a penalty corner with the last play of the game.

Brighton head coach Chris Borsoi was pleased with the display and praised his side for sticking together through a season which brought 17 defeats in 18 games.

The second relegation place eventually went to Old Cranleighan after their 4-4 draw at fellow strugglers Sevenoaks was not enough to keep them up. Havant, who had also been in danger on the final day, crashed 8-3 at Exeter University while champions Richmond ended their campaign on a losing note, going down 5-4 to local rivals Teddington.

The photograph shows Brighton & Hove's youngsters in the men's 1s squad at Bath (from left) Aaron Patel, Malachi Hayes, Patrick Ford and Josiah Wood

Middleton 1s 2
BHHC 4s 2

Andrew Bromley reports: "Knowing that we required a win to keep the wolf from the door, we were blessed with a close to complete squad for the match away in Littlehampton. A couple of last-minute withdrawals provided opportunity for both Will Brickell and Jens to have a run out for us. Given the pitch is like playing on grass, they probably regret their decision to assist us!

After a warm up of upright trapping, we readied ourselves to fight for survival. The first 10-15 minutes were all Brighton, with the adult home defenders struggling with the pace and movement of the BHHC forwards (mostly kids!). We won numerous PCAs but a mixture of surface conditions and home team GK kept the score 0-0.

However, Brighton finally broke the deadlock with Bromley lining up Seb Wilkinson to sweep home. Middleton weren't out of the game for long though as their tactic of smashing the ball as hard as they could to their high forward paid off, with Hehir being adjudged from 80 yards away to have fouled the Middleton forward on the top of the D (despite Orris being behind him). A stroke awarded and scored which certainly did not align with the current FIH rulebook. The rest of the half was much of the same - Brighton making loads of attacks and winning corners (to no avail) and Middleton practising their driving.

Half time, and more focus was put on having bodies in the D as we moved up the pitch.

After an end-to-end 10 minutes, disaster, as Middleton took the lead. Orris and Hehir had collectively made about 15 reflex saves but Middleton scored from a few yards out. We quickly resumed peppering their 25 but still weren't making any inroads. Hehir decided that he should provide some feedback to the umpire and rightly had a green triangle shown his way. Cause and Effect. We managed to keep Middleton out for this period and then managed to win a few more corners. Still no goals.

As the final five minutes loomed, Hehir went full Captain Oates to allow us to play with 11 on pitch. In the last minute Will scored the equaliser but the umpire was already blowing for a PCA. Frustrating but not contentious. The first PCA secured a foot in the D but the re-take saw Stan the Man deflect in the equaliser.

Certainly not the result we wanted or, as it transpired, needed. Crowborough won at home 5-1 which was a huge change in fortunes given they'd lost the reverse fixture. Voting was carried out at The World's End in Patching, with Hehir unanimously taking home MoD. Stan won DoD (again!) with nods to Jens, Will, Ivor and Peter.

Our destiny is now only partly in our hands, as we'll stay up if we beat rivals Lewes and results go our way. To be honest though, in our 11 matches since Christmas we've only scored six field goals (plus 10 PCAs / PS). We sadly may only have ourselves to blame."

BHHC 5s 2
Horsham 3s 4

Hidetomo Moro reports: “The 5s lost to the well organised promotion candidates Horsham 3s. The 5s kept the ball well for the first ten minutes, and made an incisive move up the field to Sam Nicholls who marked his return with an expert strike into the corner for the first goal.

Horsham adjusted their press to win the ball back, and pressured the 5s defence to make chances and gain penalty corners. Three goals were conceded, but GK Alex Eason made some key saves to prevent further losses.

The 5s improved on passing and teamwork in the second half. Horsham kept forwards high and scored a fourth goal. Callum Pooles made some good runs but was green carded, and Evan Hitchen made some good runs but was Horsham face pushed.

The 5s kept going and after one move Lloyd Easterbrook-Cotton scored the second beneath the keeper. The 5s played well in a competitive match against a well organised and capable side.

MoM: GK Alex Eason
DoD: Callum Pooles for the green."

Mid Sussex 4s 0
BHHC 9s 1

Alistair Thomson reports: "In no time at all it seemed, especially for us oldies, the final game of the season against Mid Sussex had arrived. Having dropped out of the promotion race and a chance to emulate the 8s in the league above, the opportunity to cement third place for the second season running was on the cards.

The team turned up in good spirits at the pastoral surroundings of Ardingly College having managed to sort out some logistics that meant we partly adhered to our green credentials, although it was disappointing that the chief eco warrior did not instigate the three-line whip and force everyone down the train/cycle combo.

Yet again SatNav issues dogged Miles in his epic journey from Peacehaven. He really must read the instruction manual before the next time he plays and maybe not adhere to SSJTM (Steve Spears Journey Time Methodology).

Unfortunately, having turned up in jeans, Miles was unable to change due to the long list of draconian don’ts that are part and parcel of playing at Ardingly.

The first half started with the shock of the season. Reedy started on the bench for some reason only known to Thompo. This probably allowed Mid Sussex to dominate the early exchanges before the midfield engine room of Wappy and Toby started to take control. At both ends there was plenty of action but few clear-cut chances. Harry, having another sterling game at the back, made a miraculous clearance off the line when the ball seemed destined to cross the line.

Youngster Finlay, debuting in goal, was involved at an early stage, rushing out to confidently kick a loose ball up the pitch which quelled the early jitters at the back. Ah if only our regular keeper could do that!

Having missed the hailstorm on the way to Ardingly, the sunny weather suddenly took a turn for the worse and the rain returned. It was unfairly suggested that Thompo subbed himself for Reedy to avoid getting wet when instead it was a tactical masterstroke to carefully engineer the replacement of “Jab and Miss” College at right back.

All square at half time and unlike previous games during the season, the low-key chat focused on the positives and where had Miles gone? Kobe Myles delivered some wise words and even though the temptation was there, he managed to avoid relapsing to his whiteboard addiction which was just as well as very few of the squad still understand ‘press’ and ‘screen’ after two seasons of Kobe Myles masterclasses.

The second half consisted of the usual fair share of missed passes and panic at the back coupled with Wappy moaning that he was doing the jobs of three people, but perhaps none of them particularly well. Maybe he should have focused on his primary role.

Dreaders provided the two moments of the half. Firstly, he lived up to his name in spectacular fashion with an epic shot and topple. Needless to say, the ball never reached its desired target. Dreaders would argue that it was a cunning ploy to trick the ex-National League goalie on the opposition team. Dreaders is indeed an enigma. For someone who is unable to stop the ball at any other moment during the game, he managed score an infeasible goal by reacting first to a rebound from his own shot putting the ball high into the net past James Myers.

It is now three days on from this moment and still the team are struggling to understand what they saw. Young Finlay in goal, stated that it was the best goal he'd ever seen. Perhaps he should watch our 1s more … or perhaps their opposition!

Wappy, tiring of doing three jobs badly, subbed himself off for Dreaders who came on at left midfield. Yes! You read it correctly, Dreaders in midfield. You do not have to be Einstein to realise that this was a disaster. This resulted in an unusual formation where we had no left midfield for five minutes and then no right back for five minutes. Poor Harry was totally confused by this but fair play to him, he didn’t stop his robust tackling of the oppo.

Having managed to survive the last few minutes of panic at the back, the game ended 1-0 which prompted Wappy to state that this was the worst game of the season. A more measured response would have been it was a hard-fought victory against the team who finished second.

The game was well umpired by two competent umpires which led to a competitive game played in good spirits. All the youngsters had good games; Evan, Ren, Harry, Toby and Finlay and have progressed well over the season, especially Toby who again had an outstanding game.

After the game, we retired to St Francis Social club which for some of the team involved a sightseeing tour of Princess Royal Hospital. An interesting fact was discovered during this time, Paula Radcliffe and Reedy have something in common. Obviously, it isn’t running. It is in fact that they are both partial to a bit of Iron Maiden!

The journey was worthwhile as rather than the usual sausage and chips, an exotic Thai curry was the fare and a bonus for the drivers was that Harvey’s Best Low Alcohol was on offer which helped the team stay for longer than planned contributing to aftergame atmosphere. Maybe this is something more clubs could follow.

All in all, a thoroughly good day of hockey and socialising and as previously mentioned, if you're looking for a fun hockey team to watch and socialise with, look no further than the BHHC Men’s 9s AKA The Glorious Vengeance!"

Other results

East Grinstead 2s 2 BHHC 2s 0
BHHC 3s 3 Guildford 2s 2
Eastbourne 3s 1 BHHC 6s 0
BHHC 7s 5 East Grinstead 0 (walkover)
South Saxons 3s 5 BHHC 8s 0

Further reading