South African hit-man Sinoxolo Mbekeni scored twice in the second half as Trojans reversed a 2-1 half-time deficit to beat London Academicals 3-2 at Bermondsey and so maintain the pressure at the top of South League Premier Division 2.
Two matches before the winter break, Trojans remain one point behind leaders Guildford, who beat Blackheath & Eltham 4-3, writes Toby Dudson.
A lively start produced missed chances at both ends, but an early lead for Trojans – Ian Bassett coming off the bench to score from a penalty stroke awarded for a shove on Rich Aves, who had been picked out by an imaginative piece of play by Ben Cole.
As Trojans turned the screw looking to build on that early lead, so Bassett sent a deflection wide and Paul Hilton struck a shot straight at the Academicals goalkeeper when another strike to add to his recent three-goal tally beckoned.
Trojans, whose return fixture with Guildford on January 19 is clearly going to have a major impact on the title race, were made to pay for their profligate finishing.
Academicals scored twice before half-time through a Seb Golding equaliser and a short corner conversion by Niall Kelly, which found Trojans all over the place at the back.
Bassett put Academicals under early second half pressure with an aerial pass, while Dave McNee’s leads upfront led to more chances being created and the game opening up.
Trojans eventually equalised through Sinoxolo Mbekeni, ‘Essex’ to his friends, who previously played for the Stoneham club in the second phase of the 2016/17 season, scoring nine times. Ben Cole provided the assist.
With the game delicately balanced 2-2, Trojans saw Chris Jackson retire for first aid and then lost Harry Warren to a green card (a bit of umpire back-chat), leaving Bassett and Toby ‘Costa’ Dudson to shore up the centre defence.
Warren’s return (alongside the patched up Jackson) proved crucial as he picked out Mbekeni, who dribbled through three defenders before putting the ball in the top right-hand corner for Trojans’ winner.
Academicals refused to lie down and forced several unconverted short corners before a relieved Trojans crew heard the final whistle.
* Trojans host winless Slough at Stoneham Lane on Saturday, 1.30.
A sixth defeat in seven matches has dropped Winchester into trouble in South League Premier Division.
Oxford University's 3-2 win at Kings' has dropped Winchester into third from bottom spot ahead of demanding pre-Christmas games against London Edwardians and table topping Spencer.
Jack Culmer and Kieran Molloy scored for Winchester, who lie three points ahead of Henley, who trimmed Milton Keynes 2-0.
Winchester seconds lost 4-1 at Wimborne Wayfarers, with Stu Swift scoring the consolation goal.
Trojans ladies go into the Investec Women’s Western Conference winter break in mid-table, with a won three, drawn three, lost three playing record from the nine-match pre-Christmas programme.
Top of the log are runaway leaders Stourport, who celebrated a ninth straight win, courtesy of a seventh minute winner by Lottie Atkinson, which Trojans were unable to cancel out at Stoneham Lane.
Ironically, Stourport’s winner came after Trojans had forced two unconverted penalty corners.
Trojans played well in the opening 35 minutes, forcing one fine save out of Stourport goalkeeper Sophie Wood and enjoyed a fair share of the second half exchanges, but short corner routines were poor and their attacks lacked a real cutting edge.
Southampton Ladies lie third in South League Division 3B after Sue Merry and Natalie Romain inspired a 2-0 victory at winless Barnes, while the creditable 1-1 result with second placed Wanderers was Fareham’s fourth draw in ten outings.
Havant climbed into second place in the National League Western Conference with a fine 3-1 win over Birmingham University, who held top spot until a fortnight ago.
Lifted by a ninth minute strike by Miguel Rodrigues, Havant were 2-0 up at the break through a Federico Bertoni penalty corner.
Birmingham got one back seven minutes after the break, but Bertoni wrapped it up for Havant two minutes from time.
Chichester came from behind to win 2-1 at Cardiff & Met, Luke Emmett *35) and Ollie Baxter (62) scoring their second half goals.
Fareham had three players sin binned in a six-minute second half spell and lost 3-2 to Bristol University – George Davey having given the hosts an early lead. Jamie Rawlings got Fareham’s second two minutes from time.
Trojans ladies went down 1-0 to Investec Women’s League leaders Stourport, but the men’s team won 3-2 at London Wayfarers, with South African hit-man Snoxolo Mbekeni scoring twice. They remain second in SPL2 behind Guildford.
Winchester’s miserable South Premier Division form continued with a 3-2 home defeat by Oxford University.
Trojans have a more youthful look this season, but some of the more experienced Stoneham set remain the guiding lights – as was proved in the 5-0 victory over winless South League Premier Division 2 strugglers Woking.
Colin French opened the scoring, Paul Hilton got two second half goals, Steve Cole kept a clean sheet – and Chris Jackson (left) played the entire 70 minutes.
The match also marked the return of South African hit-man Sinoxolo Mbekeni, from Port Elizabeth, who will be at Trojans for the remainder of the season.
Trojans started the game well, putting Woking under pressure from the start. The hosts hassled and harried well early on, with Ian Bassett at the heart of the early attacks. Despite this intent and endeavour, Trojans were unable to capitalise on good build up play for much of the first half.
The youthful Woking side had set up to counter, unleashing a probable league record in failed one touch passes in attempts to prise open the league’s best defence, which has leaked only 11 goals thus far.
Trojans controlled the first half well, and opened up the scoring with powerful top D strike from French finding the bottom corner of the Woking goal.
After that overdue breakthrough, Trojans were able to get a second. A soaring aerial from Bassett tore open the Woking defence, and Ben Cole was able to get the home side’s second to make it 2-0 at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Trojans creating and missing a plethora of chances, short corners coming and going. Woking continued to stick to their philosophy of late cuts and first time bounces, to little avail.
As the game wore on, the speed and close control of Sinoxolo Mbekeni, playing his first game in around two months, began carving through the away side.
This pressure led to a third goal, with a deft touch from Paul Hilton utterly bamboozling the Woking keeper.
Three up and with Jackson still on the pitch, Trojans got a fourth, an improvised short corner being parried to the always lurking Richard Aves, who tucked the ball away with aplomb.
Before the final whistle Hilton doubled his tally. Afterwards, there were celebrations for Cole’s clean sheet, Jackson’s uninterrupted 70-minute session and Toby Dudson’s 16th birthday, a chocolate cake, sponsored by Costa of Otterbourne.
Fareham twice came from behind to lead Cardiff & Met 3-2 going into the final phase of a National League Western Conference thriller – only to have the win points prised away from them seven minutes from time.
The 3-3 draw nudges Fareham into seventh place ahead of Sunday’s final match of the calendar year against early season leaders Bristol University, who ended a five-game losing run with a 4-0 victory over winless Isca.
“It was so disappointing. We had worked so hard to get ourselves in to a winning position. Our guys were pretty gutted that we had let the win slip out of our grasp,” reflected Fareham coach Ben Barnes.
“But you have to take your hat off to how Cardiff did not give up. With a team full of internationals, many who played at the Commonwealth Games this year, they have plenty of quality and experience.
“A draw was a fair result and one that many might have seen as a good one for us, but on reflection we are not happy with it entirely, the guys were disappointed.”
Fareham were chasing the game from the third minute, having lost possession in the visitors’ half and had no time to recover as Cardiff broke from their own 23m line to the Henry Cort clubhouse end where Rhys Bradshaw converted.
Cardiff were a well drilled unit, restricting Fareham to two first half short corners, the second of which saw goalkeeper James Fortnam beat a Jamie Rawlings drag flick away with his outstretched legs.
“Cardiff could easily have added to that early goal, but we defended well and at 0-1 at the break we had a real opportunity to get back into the game,” Barnes added.
It took Fareham three second half minutes to equalise – the goal coming after a Niall Stott penalty corner shot was cleared off the Cardiff line.
But Chris Davey worked the ball back in and Martin Gough tucked it home.
Within seven minutes Cardiff had restored their lead with Jack Pritchard’s tenth goal of the season, but Fareham were quick to respond and equalised with a slick team goal.
Stott was once again involved, working the ball up to Gough, who returned the compliment by teeing up Davey to make it 2-2.
“We were playing well, with the energy and commitment from the squad excellent and going 3-2 up with eight minutes left was nothing more than we deserved,” the coach said.
Stott, hugely influential in the Fareham engine room, and Rawlins both had shots saved before the former Scottish international powered home a drag flick to give Fareham a 3-2 advantage.
But sides are so often vulnerable directly they’ve scored and Fareham found themselves pulled out of position and Carl McKenzie roofed Cardiff’s heartbreak equaliser.
Stott and McKenzie rather unnecessarily saw yellow soon afterwards and with the Scotsman carded, Fareham’s chances of victory went to the sin-bin with him.
Winchester must beat Oxford University at Kings’ on Saturday (2pm) if they are to halt a sequence of five defeats in the last six South League Premier Division matches.
They will slip to third from bottom if they lose to the Dark Blues.
Winchester crashed 5-1 to Bromley & Beckenham – the game being all over bar the shouting with the Kent side 4-0 up at half-time.
“It was a very poor first half performance saw us go into the break four down, but Bromley (third) were a very well drilled and efficient unit, possibly the best team we’ve played so far,” reflected Winchester coach George Harris.
“The manner of the goals we conceded from set pieces and in defending too deep was particularly disappointing.
“I was frustrated by our inability to adapt tactically to Bromley’s overloading tactics in the first period.”
“At least we acquitted ourselves much better in the second half albeit with nothing to lose and Craig Jeffrey got us on the scoreboard.”
Harris is planning a change of tactics for Winchester’s home game with Oxford, which precedes two demanding matches against table topping Spencer and Old Edwardians.
Looking ahead to the weekend, Harris said: “Going forward we will be adopting a much more aggressive approach in our play whilst taking a few more risks in order to get ourselves back into contention for a promotion place.
“We been cut off from the top four and need a little luck with injuries and greater consistency in availability if we are to move forward.”
Havant remain third in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference after a 2-2 draw at Oxford Hawks.
They scored twice in five second half minutes to lead 2-1 through Federico Bentoni and Matt Cox, but Andy Watts equalised for Oxford soon after.
Fareham shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Cardiff, who took a third minute lead through Rhys Bradshaw and were back in front again through Jack Pritchard after Martin Gough had equalised.
Chris Davey finished off a slick team move to make it 2-2 before Niatt Stott powered Fareham 3-2 ahead eight minutes from time.
But Cardiff levelled it up though Carl McKenzie straight from the restart.
Chichester salvaged a 2-2 draw at Team Bath, who led 2-0 at half-time.
Ollie Bradshaw clawed a goal back, but it needed a last minute penalty corner from Alex Messenger to earn Chichester a draw.
Trojans ladies drew 0-0 at Reading, but the men thumped Woking 5-0. Winchester crashed 5-1 at Bromley & Beckenham.
Guildford’s lead over Trojans at the top of South League Premier Division 1 is down to a solitary point.
While the Surrey pacesetters were being held 2-2 at Eastbourne, Trojans trimmed Horsham 3-1 at Christ’s Hospital, where Dan Ferrier converted penalty corners either side of half-time and Paul Hilton got the points clinching third.
Trojans called the tune from the start, creating numerous turnovers and an abundance of chances, none of which they took.
Some fine goalkeeping, poor finishing and twice the woodwork kept Trojans at bay – until Ferrier’s powerful drag flick from a short corner put them in front.
Trojans paid the penalty for missing those chances as Tim Upchurch equalised for Horsham, beating the evergreen Steve Cole high to the goalkeeper’s left.
Trojans, who host winless Woking at Stoneham Lane on Saturday (1.30), were lucky not to be further behind at half time when a well timed interception gave Horsham a two-on-one with Cole, only for an open goal to be missed under pressure from the chasing Harry Warren.
The second half started brightly for Trojans, creating more good chances only to fail at the final pass or shot.
Ferrier was on target again with his second – and fifth of the season - from another penalty corner to give Trojans a 2-1 lead, and then Paul Hilton scored his first goal of the term, turning and firing high into the net from the top of the D after a good pass from Matt Bridger.
Horsham were willed into life and were kept at bay by some good saves from Cole and some mature defending from a second half centre back pairing of teenager Toby Dudson and Harry Warren. late green card for Ben Cole gave Horsham the numerical advantage which was undone when indiscipline gave one of their forwards a yellow card for verbally abusing the umpires.
Trojans ladies scored twice in quick succession during the last eight minutes to beat high riding Investec Women’s Western Conference rivals Olton & West Warwicks, who twice clawed their way back into the game after falling behind.
Trojans, who won 4-2, played some of their best hockey of the season in the first half and, but for a series of fine saves by Frances Taylor, would have been out for the count by half-time.
All they had to show for their efforts was a 23rd minute short corner far post deflection by Jill Tombs – an advantage wiped out by Olton’s Sade Gerald four minutes after the break.
Trojans bounced back and restored their lead six minutes later – Cita Haines rounding three diving challenges before teeing up Amy Sheehan, who volleyed the Stoneham girls back in front.
But midway through the second period it was all square again, Sally Walton converting a penalty corner to make it 2-2.
Trojans regrouped to regain the initiative and put the game beyond Olton’s reach with two late goals.
Tombs potted another short corner and two minutes later Haines clinched a 4-2 win to inflict the Midlanders’ first defeat of the season. To add to Olton’s woe, goalscorer Walton was red carded for dissent in the closing play.
Fareham benefitted from a bizarre ‘umpire assist’ goal before clinching a thrilling 4-3 National League Western Conference win over Chichester, who had clawed back a 2-0 half-time deficit.
Five minutes remained on the clock when Kiwi Jack Gilbert broke on the left and powered a cross-shot towards the Chichester goal.
Chris Bristow flung himself to his left to parry the shot – the ball flying off and hitting umpire Darren Cass before landing conveniently at the feet of Niall Stott, who gratefully restored Fareham’s lead at 3-2.
The goal sparked a terrific climax to the derby – Alex Pendle equalising from a disputed penalty corner straight from the restart, but Gilbert clinching a Fareham victory with two minutes left.
Fareham ought to have put the game to bed after dominating the first half, but only having goals by Gilbert and Stott to show for their efforts.
They missed a gift chance right at the start, but Fareham’s first penalty corner was converted, New Zealander Gilbert picking up the pieces after Stott’s drag flick had been blocked.
Bristow, who had a terrific match in the Chichester goal, twice saved subsequent short corners before Alex Boxall forced a fourth set-piece which Stott stuck away to make it 2-0.
Chichester changed tact after the break, playing more from the back, but Bristow continue to thwart Fareham, denying Gilbert in a one-on-one break and saving from Chris Davey.
Two Chichester goals in five minutes by Andrew Sparshott turned the match on his head.
The bearded Chichester striker got his first after teenager Alex Pendle had been denied from a first penalty former and then scored a spectacular equaliser.
Fareham forced three unconverted short corners before Stott restored their lead from the bizarre ‘umpire assist’ five minutes from time.
But the visitors had two players sin-binned and were down to nine men for a chunk of the closing stages.
Pendle equalised at 3-3 immediately after, but Fareham weren’t to be denied – a long corner into the D from the right finding Gilbert, whose 68th minute winner was his seventh goal of the season.
Trojans ladies scored twice in the closing eight minutes to secure a 4-2 win over visiting Investec Women’s Western Conference rivals Olton & West Warwicks at Stoneham Lane.
They twice saw leads by Jill Tombs (23) and Amy Sheehan (46) cancelled out, but with eight minutes left Tombs (pictured) converted a penalty corner and soon after Tacita Haines made it 4-2 from open play. Olton had a player red carded in the last minute.
Trojans’ men are only one point behind Guildford at the top of South League Premier Division 2 after the leaders were held 2-2 at Eastbourne.
A Dave Ferrier brace and a solo stroke from Paul Hilton gave Trojans a 3-1 win at Horsham.
Micah Smithard scored his seventh goal of the season, but was unable to spare Winchester a 2-1 home defeat against Banbury – a result that has dropped the city club to ninth place in Premier 1.
Fareham seconds had scored 11 goals in their past two Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1 matches, but found themselves hit for six without reply at Purley.
Two goals in three early second half minutes set Winchester up for an action packed 5-3 win over the South League Premier Division’s bottom club Henley, who twice cancelled out leads by the city club.
Ben Hibberd and Micah Smithard scored twice each as Winchester halted a sequence of back-to-back defeats.
“It was a satisfying win,” reflected Winchester coach George Harris. “Even at this stage of the season we knew was a must win game.
“I challenged the team to show how much they want a top four place and we showed much better fluency from the outset.”
The action fizzed from the start and barely relented until the final whistle as Winchester took an early lead when Ben Hibberd was most alert as the ball pin-balled around the Henley defensive area.
But the more mature Henley stuck back quickly as Chris Green powered home a reverse strike after a rapid counter attack.
Winchester took a 2-1 lead out of the first period when Micah Smithard pounced at the breakdown of a penalty corner.
The stakes were upped quickly after the break when some poor defensive decisions let in Alex Land to equalise.
The following ten minutes were all Winchester's.
Firstly, the increasingly impressive Harry Trussler sent a long aerial down the left wing for Ben Hibberd, who beat the floored keeper and finished from a narrow angle with his reverse.
Two minutes later, they struck on a classic counter attack from a Henley penalty corner, Jack Culmer releasing skipper Kieran Molloy through the centre.
Hibberd then pulled the ball across the face of the goal for the sliding Smithard to make it 4-2.
Malloy scored the fifth Winchester goal, Craig Jeffery showing some clever control under pressure in the opposition "D" from a bouncing ball and lined up a narrow angle strike which Malloy tapped home to make sure of the conversion.
At 5-2 things looked comfortable, but Henley kept coming and tension mounted when they struck their third through Jonny Taylor with still ten minutes remaining.
Harris added: “Unfortunately, some lax defending allowed Henley back in when we threatened to get on top and run away with the game.
“The crucial fourth goal put us 4-2 up and should have seen us put them to the sword, but some uncharacteristic ill discipline saw us down to ten men for the last phase and a 5-3 scoreline could have caused us a problem, but we battled through a tough period.
“It just goes to prove that there are no givens in the South Premier !”
Fareham took the lead inside three minutes against Olton & West Warwicks at Henry Cort – but were eventually beaten 3-1 by an efficient Midlands side, who lie third in the Western Conference log.
Chris Davey fired Fareham in front after a move created by Danny Rawlings and Jack Gilbert.
Moving the ball quickly, Fareham played some crisp early hockey, but Olton gradually worked their way into the game and after a fourth penalty corner, Peter Jackson equalised.
Fareham lost their early momentum and nine minutes into the second period Olton snatched the lead – Tom Brammer on target after a short corner had crashed against the bar.
The game had a distinct competitive edge, Fareham laying siege to the Olton goal, forcing the visitors’ to twice clear the ball off the line.
In their bid to balance the score, Fareham were guilty of running too much with the ball and creating turnovers.
Olton cashed in and sealed the points with a Jackson penalty stroke 13 minutes from the end.
Jack Stubbings scored two penalty strokes in the last four minutes as Havant trimmed Bristol University 3-1, while Chichester (whom Fareham visit on Sunday, 1pm) lost 3-1 to table topping Birmingham University, with Oli Baxter scoring.
Fareham seconds made it 11 goals in the last two Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 2 matches with a 6-2 mauling of London Edwardians II – Aiden Page (2), Luke Gould (2), Owen Evans and teenager Fergus Jackson on target.
Fareham ladies and their Southampton counterparts are jostling for third place in the South Women's League Division 3B, but both trail unbeaten leaders Eastbourne by five points.
Benefitting from an early Nat Romain strike, Southampton swept to a 5-1 win over Chichester at the Sports Centre.
Lou Hopkins doubled Southampton’s lead before Chichester pulled one back just before half-time. But a Zoe Stride brace and a late Sue Merry penalty stroke ensured an emphatic Southampton win.
Beaten 1-0 by Southampton the previous week, Fareham also went nap, with Vicky Field (2), Gracie Coleman, Tara Jolly and Laura Pendleton, with a drag scoop, on target in the 5-2 win at Horsham.
Trojans had to withstand a late West Hampstead onslaught to secure a 3-2 win which keeps them in second place behind free-scoring South League Premier Division 2 pacemakers Guildford, who blasted Staines 7-1.
The visitors enjoyed most of the early possession, but chances went begging until Dave Ferrier finished off a fine right-flank move to fire Trojans ahead.
West Hampstead’s response was immediate, Benji Knights Johnson equalising with a penalty corner drag flick.
Ian Bassett found himself denied by the WH keeper just before half-time, but when Paul Hilton and Colin French, two of Trojans ‘old hands’ got together, the lead was restored, Hilton creating the opportunity by beating two defenders.
Angus Haigh made it 3-1 for Trojans, but West Hampstead, so often bogey opponents in the past, refused to lie down, with Alex Stobbart setting up a frantic finale when he clawed a second goal back. But Trojans held on.
Trojans ladies allowed a 3-1 interval lead to slip from their grasp and ended up having to be satisfied with a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw with promoted Investec Women’s Western Conference Barnes.
They fell behind to a fourth minute goal by Tri Doyle, but by half-time were 3-1 up through an Emma Teague (pictured above) equaliser, which preceded an Amy Sheehan brace.
But having to play 28 minutes of the match with ten players on the pitch eventually took its toll as Barnes grabbed a late equaliser.
Teague’s 17th minute equaliser came from a short corner, while a slick threesome down the left initiated by Heather Batten led to Sheehan making it 2-1 six minutes later.
As Trojans took control, so Sheehan converted a penalty stroke on the half-time whistle.
Both Trojans goalscorers spent time in the sin-bin as Doyle clawed it back to 3-2 and, with six minutes left, Rose Evans levelled it up.
Batten and Barnes’ midfielder Zelda Beverley were yellow carded in the final minute.
Charlie Stubbings converted two penalty strokes in the last four minutes to give Havant a dramatic 3-1 win over Bristol University and maintain fourth place in the National League Western Conference.
The game burst into life after a goalless opening 53minutes when Pakistan international Akhtar Ali fired Havant ahead. Tom Minall levelled on the hour mark, but Stubbings’ late penalties won it for Havant.
Fareham swept into a third minute lead through Chris Davey against Olton & West Warwicks, but ended up 3-1 losers – the same margin of defeat Chichester experienced at table topping Birmingham University, where Oli Baxter got a late reply.
Trojans ladies fell behind early on at Barnes, but turned round 3-1 up after Amy Sheehan had scored twice to improve on Emma Teague’s equaliser.
But Trojans had three players yellow carded, two in the last quarter, and ended up drawing 3-3.
Winchester and Trojans enjoyed success in the South Premier League, with Ben Hibberd and Micah Smithard each scoring twice in the city side’s 5-3 win over Henley.
Trojans, second in Premier 2, won 3-2 at West Hampstead, with Dan Ferrier, Colin French, and Angus Haigh on target.
Chichester's great entertainers ! Their five Western Conference matches this season have produced 36 goals - 18 at each end !
Back (from left): Andrew Sparshot, Jack Lerwill, Matt Sewell, Alex Thakore, Alex Holton, Josh Brown, Dan Brook, Ollie Robinson, Ollie Baxter. Front: Joe Budgen, Alex Pendle, Alex Messenger, Stevie Doolan, Keiran Henn, Cam Ryall, Alex Baxter, Ollie Robinson.
Chichester Observer photo.
Welcome to Vimps at the Hockey
Powered by Cricket-Hockey.com, the hockey equipment specialists in Downton, Salisbury