Brighton & Hove face a massive new year challenge if they are to avoid relegation from the Men's Hockey League Division One South as they ended the first half of the season pointless after 10 straight defeats.
Again lapses in concentration in the last quarter cost them dear against Old Cranleighan in the freezing rain at Blatchington Mill on Sunday, the visitors running out 3-1 winners to complete a league double over Brighton.
The game got off to a fast start, with skipper Adam Flett firing Brighton in front from a penalty corner only for the visitors to hit back immediately. The game remained in the balance until the final quarter, when the visitors, who were adept at breaking up the play and pouncing on any speculative Brighton passes, made the breakthrough.
First they struck after seizing on a loose ball and some nifty stick work created the scoring chance and then they capitalised on a smart break down the right to seal matters.
Brighton, who are now 10 points from safety, return after the winter break with a trip to Old Loughtonians on February 4.
Exeter University and Old Loughtonians took advantage of Richmond not playing due to the weather to close the gap at the top of Division One South. The students thrashed Canterbury 5-1 to move two points behind the leaders while Old Loughtonians won 4-1 at Teddington. Bath Buccaneers beat Havant 4-2 to move out of the bottom two at the visitors' expense.
BHHC 9s 1
Mid Sussex 4s 2
Last Saturday the M9 went down 2-1 to Mid Sussex 4s with Simon Taylor (aka Doc) getting the goal. The match report is an audio delight produced by Simon Smith available exclusively to TGV subscribers.
A week late but here is the BHHC M9s vs Middleton M2s match report by Simon Smith:
BHHC 9s 3
Middleton 2s 2
Noun: A game played on a sports field between two teams of 11 players who each have a curved stick with which they try to put a small, hard ball into the other team's goal. It’s all about the basics.
A bright, sunny day saw the usual suspects and some talented youngsters face an opposition of similar disposition. This game above all illustrated that whilst the M9s are a competitive team playing some delightful open hockey, with skilled youngsters unleashed by mishits with greybeards.
The 9s look threatening, we pass, run, tackle and create many opportunities, but we are seemingly unable to put the ball into the other team’s goal.
Like Amazon parcels, countless chances went awry. Dreaders and Jesse did manage to deliver and put the 9s ahead twice, but twice Middleton responded. Imagine a DPD driver standing in the back of his van just randomly chucking things out and about (sticks, cards, comedy moments) and you’ll have an idea of just how incisive the M9s are not, in the D.
The game seemed destined for a draw but in the final minute the M9s are awarded their 17,000th short corner of the season. Cometh the hour, it’s a cliche I know, but like Jobs saving Apple, like Wellington at Waterloo, like Bungle upstaging Zippy, one man stood tall and fired the winner for the 9s. Signed sealed and delivered. It was reminiscent of Brandi Chastain scoring the winner for the USA in the ’99 World Cup final, but we were all somewhat relieved Thompo didn’t whip off his shirt to reveal his sports bra."
BHHC 2s 1 East Grinstead 2s 9
BHHC 6s 3 Eastbourne 3s 4