Brighton and Hove go into the second half of their Men's Hockey League campaign on Saturday evening (February 2) aiming to remain in the top six in the Conference East in order to claim a place in the new North-South conference structure for next season.
They take on City of Peterborough at Blatchington Mill School at 6pm in a match switched from Sunday lunchtime due to their opponents' cup commitments and buoyed by two comfortable friendly victories in recent weeks over Conference West sides Chichester, who are struggling, and Havant, riding high in second place.
Fifth-placed Brighton will be keen to keep Peterborough out of the top six picture when they meet on Saturday. Peterborough are eighth, six points adrift of Brighton, who finished the first half of the season on a high after winning 3-2 at Oxted in late November. When the sides met in October, Peterborough inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Brighton 3-2.
Saturday's match had been scheduled originally for Sunday lunchtime but England Hockey ruled Peterborough's Tier One Championship tie against Beeston had to take preference, leaving BHHC having to find an available pitch slot at short notice at the end of a busy Saturday. All support will be welcome.
First team coaches Jon Royce and Jon Williams cast their eyes over the men's 2s on Saturday and saw the Brighton side end a seven-game run without a win in a 4-2 victory over Kings and Alleyns 1s in the Kent/Sussex regional league.
Two goals from Dan Hore and a cracking reverse stick effort from Nathan Tyler helped give Brighton - skippered on the day by James Treadwell - just their third win of the season and while they remain bottom of the table, they are well in touch with five sides above them.
In Sussex division one the 3s won 4-1 at Worthing 3s to cement their mid-table place ahead of their clubmates.
"Brighton arrived at Worthing early, just in time to watch resident Brighton umpire Luke Cain Williams dish out cards to the very naughty Worthing and Gore Court players," reports skipper Andrew Bromley.
"There must be something in the water at Angmering School as our match was also littered with cards, however many for unknown reasons! Brighton stormed into an early lead through Ed Bending and Chris Page. We were cutting through the Worthing team - our pace and direct play causing them serious issues.
"After half time, both Dan Reid and Roel Stein smashed home goals of their own, with a Worthing goal in between. All in all a superb performance and result. We enjoyed teas in the new Worthing clubhouse and wished Potter well as he is returning to the USA."
The 4s hopes of an upturn in fortune at home against league leaders Eastbourne 2s lasted just 90 seconds as they went down 6-0.
“Form for the 4s since the Christmas turkey has been poor and entertaining Eastbourne 2s gave us the opportunity to surprise the table toppers,” says skipper Carlo Missirian. “We prepared for the game to play disciplined hockey and ensure the opposition would be in for a tough game. Unfortunately Eastbourne scored after 90 seconds from a well worked move and their confidence was sky high.
“The first half went on to be very tough to control their high paced attacking hockey with some sublime finishing. At no time did the 4s give in - Ade was very unlucky not to score from a superb deflection, the Eastbourne keeper pulling off a remarkable reflex save.
“The second half was a more even affair but the 4s passing and touch at times was disappointing mainly due to the physical effort to compete with the young opposition. Frustrations did boil over with the game becoming a little fractious and the obligatory cards produced.
“Overall frustrating in that everything Eastbourne tried seemed to come off and the 4s will need to get back to enjoying their hockey.”
It was a different story for the 5s, who also faced a youthful Eastbourne 3s side, and ran out 4-1 winners in a division two fixture.
“Brighton 5s turned up to to Eastbourne with 15, a hard number to manage but all were needed as within 12 minutes we had three defenders go off,” reports captain Ramzy Omran.
“We played a youthful Eastbourne 3s and as Bunny said they may be be fit but inexperienced. Which proved the case as Alex and Sam combined well to give Michael a diving tap in. Then minutes later the champagne moment of the game as Sam entered the D, the keeper came off the line and Sam lobbed him with Eastbourne defenders scrambling to stop the ball. They failed. We then sustained some Eastbourne pressure but led 2-0 at halftime.
“Second half was strange as Eastbourne’s best player seemed to leave at half time. We had a lot more of the game and scored two good goals from Michael and Sam. Will and Lloyd combined well and should have got the goal they deserved. 4-0 up but Eastbourne got a consolation with two minutes to go.
“MOM - Zac for great saves. DOD - Laurence for feeding the squirrels.”
The 6s lost 7-3 after putting in a creditable performance against an Eastbourne 4s featuring two ex-internationals and which hasn’t lost a game in division three this season.
“BHHC actually took the lead after a strong start through a Jacob tap in, but Eastbourne’s quality broke through, scoring four in six minutes and another two immediately after half time,” reports Myles Ford.
“Brighton then responded, despite Ali missing a flick, Si and Ali with quality finishing. Eastbourne then closed the scoring with a short corner finish in injury time.”
Skipper Richard Barnes was delighted with a welcome sudden goal glut as the 7s thrashed Crawley 4s 7-0 in division four.
“Starting strongly, the M7s were good value for their 2-0 lead at halftime thanks to a Phil Standen SC strike and a wicked deflection from a misdirected Kevin Mould effort,” he said. “Brighton's midfield dominance continued in the second half and new model SC routine paid dividends with two strikes from Dickie Barnes and one for Gary Revelchion. A second from Phil Standen and far post move for Chris Lake completed the scoring.”
Playing at home against league leaders East Grinstead 4s was always going to be tough for the 8s and so it proved in a 6-1 defeat.
“We entertained top of the table EG who haven't lost since September and have been scoring for fun,” reports Matt Sale. “Always going to be tough against a skilful youthful side; however we created some early opportunities but fell behind to some clinical finishing.
“EG scored three in each half with Dreadful getting our consolation goal with a tap in. Can't fault the teams effort; however this EG side are an unstoppable force at this level.”