Three goals in the opening 20 minutes laid the path for Southampton’s 4-2 South Women’s League Division 3B win over Horsham at the Sports Centre.
Abi Woodcock got the show on the road, the first from a short corner and the second after a move with Lou Hopkins. Bernie Jones made it 3-0 before Horsham launched a comeback and clawed two goals back before half-time. Southampton needed a fourth goal and got it through Zoe Stride.
Winchester beat Lewes 2-0, relegated Trojans lost 2-0 at Oxted and the promoted New Forest came out on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller, losing 4-3 at Brighton & Hove, where Lia Waine, Lynn Jones and Rachel Lloyd were on target.
Charlie Cooper, pictured, was on target as Bournemouth launched their South League Premier Division 2 West campaign with a 3-0 win over Slough. Alex Messenger and Matt Squires got the other goals.
The Down Grange spectators were treated to an 11-goal fest but despite an Andy Pett hat-trick and a Michael Deller-Merricks brace on debut, Basingstoke lost 6-5 to Aldershot & Farnham.
Rowledge cricketer Ian Metcalfe bagged two of the Aldershot goals, while team-mate Sam Plater was on target in Guildford's 3-2 South Premier Division win at Tunbridge Wells.
Amy Sheehan gave Trojans ladies a 14th minute lead, but two Wimbledon goals in three minutes either side of the half-time break led to them suffering a 3-2 defeat in the Women’s National Division South opener.
Boosted by the return of Jenny Gough at the back, Trojans enjoyed the early spoils, but any prospect of new coach Jon Price treating the girls to an autumnal dish of strawberries and cream were shattered around the half-way mark.
Annie Dalton’s 35th minute short corner conversion, followed by a field goal from Tamsyn Naylor three minutes later put Wimbledon in the driving seat and when Ruth Morgan potted another set piece midway through the second half, Trojans were cooked. Jill Toombs got their second from a penalty corner in the final play.
Trojans raised Lizzie Gittens converted two penalty strokes to give Reading a 2-0 win at ISCA, who had KES schooled Imogen Lea in their line-up.
Basingstoke’s Western Conference bow at Down Grange ended in a 2-0 defeat by Exe.
Jamie Rawlings converted two penalty corners but was unable to save Havant from a 3-2 opening National League South defeat by visiting Southgate.
A summer signing from Fareham, who had a brief spell with relegated Premier Division Reading last season, Rawlings scored both his goals in the second half, by which time Havant were already chasing the game.
They initially trailed to a 15th minute strike by John Sterlini and then minutes before the break were two goals behind through Charles Hamilton. Beaten 4-3 by Fareham in the Premier 1 cup recently, Southgate turned round 2-0 up.
A new look Havant, rejigged following the departure of a contingent of overseas players from last season, fought back strongly after the break and within four minutes of the restart were back in the game.
18-year old Polish striker Eryk Bembenek won Havant’s second corner of the game and Rawlings, who had shot narrowly wide from the first, duly converted.
Lifted, Havant enjoyed their best spell of the game, but with the next goal clearly crucial, the hosts conceded a stroke when Polish international goalkeeper Maciej Pacanowski bowled over a Southgate player. Alex Williams made it 3-1 from the spot.
Havant forced two more short corners, the first of which was saved by goalkeeper Chris Rea and the second - in the 69th and last minute - was converted again by Rawlings.
Havant chairman Chris Pickett said: ‘Despite losing, one should put the result into perspective. Southgate played well and without doubt are a mature, well-drilled and experienced team that I am sure will be near the top at the end of the season.
‘Havant, after losing a high number of players, fielded a relatively young side, or certainly one with a subtle blend of experience and youth and they will take a few games to be most effective. There are plenty of positives to take into Sunday’s visit to Canterbury.
Fareham ladies have had to make wholesale changes from the squad which won promotion to South Women’s League Division 2 following last season’s Division 3B championship triumph.
They were without six of that title winning side and, with seven teenagers in the team, they only lost 2-1 at Oxford Hawks to a goal two minutes from time.
They took a second half lead through Vicky Field, but Hawks clawed it back to win through goals by Jess Upjohn and Annabelle Gulliver
Jo Faulkner and Laura Pendleton have stepped down from 1st XI hockey, last season’s skipper Lydia Rosewell has moved to London to work, and Georgia Collins and Sophie Raymond have gone to university.
In addition, last season’s top scorer Heather Batten is currently out with an ankle injury and Rebecca Reavell was unavailable for the season-opener. Both should be back for Saturday’s visit of 2019/20 Division 3A winners Harrow to Henry Cort, 11.45.
‘We had a very young team,’ said Lemon. ‘There were seven teenagers, including three making their debuts.’
Four of those were under 16, including 14-year-old debutants Hannah Ward and Anya Middleton.
‘Whilst disappointing that we conceded the winning goal late on, this is outweighed by the positives we can take from the game and the encouragement it can give us as we look ahead to the rest of the season,’ Lemon added.
‘We will be a much better side later in the campaign as we get used to a new league, new teammates and new positions, but the progress we have made since the start of pre-season is encouraging.
‘The aim is just to consolidate this season and then look to build. We don’t know any of the teams in our league, it’s a whole new ball game.’
Four local youngsters made their mark in the opening round of England Hockey League matches, with Fareham duo Will Penrose and Will Raymond scoring for their respective university sides.
Penrose opened the scoring from a penalty stroke for Cardiff University against Fareham, but ended up a 6-1 losers as the Conference West visitors scored four times in the last 11 minutes to run out comfortable winners.
Younger brother Rory has joined Reading (to coincide with studies at Reading University) and played in his new club's disappointing 0-1 defeat by Teddington.
Raymond scored the seventh - and his maiden National League goal - as Cardiff & Met ran riot, beating Deeside Ramblers 8-1 in Cheshire - his first competitive match since attaining a First Class honours degree in Sport & Exercise Science in the summer.
Chichester starlet Alex Pendle is now studying at Loughborough and played in the 3-1 win at Cambridge City. His Chi teammates, meanwhile, lost 2-1 to Harborne.
Tom Croft-Baker and James Harden, both schooled at King Edwards', helped Durham University II beat Barfoot Tigers 3-0 in National Conference North.
Matty Bell (left) notched a hat-trick before Richard Aves (right) scored twice more to give Trojans an emphatic 5-0 win over South League Premier Division neighbours Winchester at Stoneham lane.
Bell scored twice in the opening half and completed his hat-trick early in the second period. Aves completed the rout with two second half goals.
Former King Edward VI student Bell, who has just begun a three-year Sports Therapy degree course at Chichester University, scored a hat-trick in the corresponding match against Winchester last season, which Trojans won 6-3.
Bell flew to Queensland this summer to sharpen his hockey skills in Brisbane, but played only one match in Brisbane before Aussie lockdown. Fortunately, he was able to swap his hockey stick for a surf board and didn’t waste any moment of his time on the golden beaches of Surfer’s Paradise.
Bell's hat-trick may have grabbed the headlines, but MoM went to the emerging Toby Dudson, who had an outstanding match in the Trojans defence. Dudson is a former team-mate of Bell's in the KES fifth form.
Winchester, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, managed only one shot on target and look to be headed for another long winter. Only two penalty corners were forced and the umpires had a card free afternoon.
Fareham scored four times in the last 11 minutes to beat Cardiff University 6-1 – the result a perfect lift-off for new coach George Harris and his young charges following last season’s relegation to the Western Conference.
The outcome of Fareham’s visit to the Welsh capital hung in the balance on the hour mark as the students tried unsuccessfully to cancel out a 2-1 deficit.
But the wind was taken out of their sails by Chris Davey’s third for Fareham, who went on to score three more times in the last five minutes to run out comfortable winners.
Fareham, who won only twice before being relegated from National South last term, found themselves trailing to a sixth minute penalty stroke conversion by KES raised Will Penrose, who spent the last two seasons at Henry Cort and is now studying biology at Cardiff University.
Davey conceded the penalty, blocking a university strike on the line.
It took Fareham a while to emerge from a lethargic start it needed a verbal 'rocket' from Harris at quarter-time to fire them into action.
The coach got the response he was looking for as Portsmouth Grammar School’s Alex Beckett, one of numerous teenagers in the squad, equalized for Fareham in the 23rd minute from a move initiated by Phil Larcombe and shortly before half-time Niall Stott celebrated his comeback from a broken leg by converting a short corner to give the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.
Fareham weathered a near half-hour Cardiff University spell of pressure before Davey grabbed a crucial third goal, with Larcombe again the provider.
Finishing strongly and emerging the fitter side, Fareham turned the screw and scored three more goals before the final whistle – Beckett getting his second either side of an Alex Boxall brace.
Beckett might well have christened his debut with a hat-trick but unselfishly set up Fareham's sixth for Boxall.
Havant chairman Chris Pickett has written to England Hockey asking for the 2020/21 National League season to be delayed due to the pandemic.
His concerns are mainly to do with players travelling to and from away games in wet weather without changing rooms being open.
‘It’s not ideal,’ he said, ‘but we have to get on with it. ‘There could also be problems with travelling - in our 2nd XI, for example, there are a lot of youngsters who don’t drive.
‘I would have liked to have seen the league postponed until the new year. We could have played clubs like Fareham, Chichester and Portsmouth rather than travel long distances.’
Havant and their league rivals are allowed to postpone a certain percentage of their games in 2020/21 for Covid-related reasons.
If both teams involved in a game can’t play, they are allowed to agree a 0-0 draw.
If a club postpones more than its allocated percentage, they will have to forfeit each match 3-0.
‘You could see some weird results,’ said Pickett. ‘Frankly, I have grave concerns whether the league will actually be finished.’
Havant enter the new National South season against Southgate at Havant College on Sunday (12.30) with a much-changed squad.
Argentinians Manuel Silvetti and Federico Bertoni and Pakistan international Atiq Arshad have not returned, while Michael Deller-Merricks has joined Basingstoke and Tom Croft-Baker is at university.
In addition, Charlie Stubbings has moved away to Teddington to work and the influential Matt Cox is still waiting for a knee operation and could miss a large chunk of the campaign.
Jakub Janicki, meanwhile, is playing in Berlin this season.
There is a Polish feel to the squad, though, with top goalkeeper Maciej Pacanowski and striker Maciej Janiszewski returning for another season. They will be joined by new signing and fellow Pole Eryk Bembeneck.
Tahsin Chowdhury, who has played National League hockey for Lichfield, has also signed along with Fareham’s Jamie Rawlings, who had a spell with Reading last season.
Trojans plan to take their successful pre-season form into the Southern League Premier Division curtain raiser with Winchester, whom they beat twice last term before the city side eventually staved off relegation.
They won 2-1 at King’s on the opening day with goals by Colin French and Richard Hill before hitting Winchester for six in the Stoneham Lane return, Matty Bell notching a hat-trick in the 6-3 victory.
Player/coach Richard Markham is delighted how Trojans pre-season has gone and has paid tribute to Ian Bassett “for his tireless efforts in getting hockey back at Stoneham so the team could complete a two-month preparation programme.
“This has given new faces a chance to bed themselves in and has allowed returning players to stake a claim for a squad place for the season.
“We’ve done well in attracting new players and welcome Cameron Berry, Tim Fewtrell and Piers Everleigh into the 1s squad.
“The addition of new faces and the growing maturity of the home grown players means the club have been able to play a more expansive game during pre-season with successful matches against Fareham, Bournemouth, Basingstoke, Staines and Oxford HC.”
Trojans’ match against Winchester is at Stoneham Lane, 1.30.
Fareham’s prospects for the upcoming Conference West campaign, which begins at Cardiff University on Sunday, have received a significance boost with the return of influential former Great Britain Olympian midfielder Niall Stott.
It will be twelve months ago to the day that Stott suffered a double break of his ankle and leg at Teddington – a serious injury that was to have a profound effect on Fareham’s 2019/20 season, culminating in relegation from the National South division.
The 39-year old was a member of the GB squad in the 2004 Athens Olympics and played for East Grinstead and Havant before joining Fareham three seasons ago.
Stott, who is tip toeing his way back by playing in short spells, admits he thought the injury was a career-ending one.
“In all honesty, I didn't think I would ever be back playing again. It’s the longest I have been out of hockey in my whole career. I’ve made quite a remarkable recovery. Now it’s good to be back playing again,” he reflected.
“I spent 11 weeks in a full cast and another six weeks in a moon boot. After that I was then on crutches with very light weight bearing through my foot and building the weight through my leg as time progressed.”
He explained: “I was allowed to start light training mid-July and build it up slowly and gradually. I am still not back to full training yet and that will be a few months away yet.”
Having been sidelined for almost a whole year, Stott acknowledges it will take time before he can take a full part for Fareham.
“I am nowhere near fully fit and that will take a lot longer. I am still doing rehab and prehab to get my leg as strong as possible and try to get to where I was before, but that is a long way off.
“I am just glad that I can be back on the pitch again in some capacity as that was looking unlikely at points during my injury/recovery. I will be recovering for a long time and the journey is long hard and slow.”
Amid the disappointment of relegation from National South came the green shoots of numerous talented youngsters being given valuable game time in readiness for this season.
Fareham were national finalists in England Hockey’s Under-18 Cup two seasons ago and it’s the bulk of that side that will play in Conference West this term.
Stott is looking forward to playing his part, albeit in short spells on the pitch.
“I see my role in the squad as one of experience and trying to help as much as I possibly can by using my experience and knowledge in both tactical and technical aspects of the game.
“We have a very young squad with some experienced guys in there with a slightly older head on their shoulders.
“I really hope that we can play (a full season) and get back to enjoying the sport we love.
“I think we have the making of a very good squad and we are looking to develop the players and club style of play, with a new system introduced by our new coach George Harris, which we are all getting used to.
“It is always difficult to predict how well you are going to do as there is so many variables that can happen.”
Pre-season has been encouraging, even a fairly predictable 9-1 defeat at Premier Division Beeston was not as ‘bad’ as the score-line might suggest.
Stott said: “We played some good hockey. It was a really good experience for the guys to play against a team of Beeston’s quality and a massive learning curve for the boys and the club, plus it shows the level we aspire to get to.”
The former Scottish international has expressed his thanks to Fareham for their support during this long injury period.
“I owe massive thanks to Nick Knight and his staff in the clinic as I truly don't think I would be playing hockey again if it wasn't for them.
“They helped me through the most difficult parts of my journey back to hockey. They are so knowledgeable and welcoming and would do anything to get their clients to where they were before or even better.”
Talented Harry Trussler will swap his cricket bat for his hockey stick on Saturday when Winchester launch their South Premier League challenge against Trojans at Stoneham Lane, 1.30pm.
The teenager has enjoyed a successful albeit truncated cricket season with St Cross Symondians, celebrating a maiden Southern League Cup century against Andover and a fifty in the win over Lymington.
Now he switches roles from run scorer to potential goal scorer for Winchester’s hockey team, who look to make a positive start against their arch local rivals.
Fareham’s decision to put their faith on youth following last season’s National Hockey League relegation has paid immediate dividends.
A squad largely comprising home grown players twice came from behind to beat Southgate 4-3 and earn a place in Saturday’s delayed 2109/20 Tier 1 Championship final against mighty Beeston in Nottingham.
They were twice behind inside the opening seven minutes but level 2-2 by half-time with goals by Danny Rawlings and Alex Beckett.
Fareham took a 3-2 lead ten minutes into the second half from a rasping Shane Vincent penalty corner drag flick and scored a fourth through Alex Boxall just short of the hour mark.
Fareham were forced to play the last five minutes with ten men after George Davey was red carded but even though Southgate clawed back a third the town youngsters held on.
“It really was an uplifting start to the competitive season,” enthused former goalkeeper George Harris who has replaced Ben Barnes as head coach.
“We did well in a tournament involving Barford Tigers and Havant previously so we took a lot of confidence into the Southgate match, beating them with nine home grown players in the squad which is very encouraging.
“Beeston are a massive club in English Premier Division hockey, so it will be a great experience for the lads.”
Fareham were rock bottom of the National South division with only two wins when last season was curtailed in February due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with relegation already a certainty.
They will compete in the Western Conference this coming season, with Chichester their local rivals alongside trips to Cardiff, Bristol and the West Country.
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