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Sevenoaks Indoor 16-17

Indoor Squad 1617

Weekend 2

Sevenoaks went into the second weekend of the Premier League Indoor Hockey tournament looking to secure a top four finish and with it a much coveted place at England Hockey’s Super Sixes Finals Night for the third consecutive year.

Sevenoaks 5 v 6 Loughborough

In their opening fixture Sevenoaks faced a new look Loughborough Students side bolstered by the return of several England U21s from international duty.  Sevenoaks were slow off the mark going one nil down inside the opening few minutes, the Christmas break perhaps taking its toll. It took a well-executed short corner from David Smith, immediately followed suit by a Duncan Parnis drag flick to snap Sevenoaks out of their funk.  Following their initial lull Sevenoaks began to impose themselves on the game, probing a deep sitting Loughborough unit and maintaining the lion’s share of possession. Some fine efforts from Jack Valentine and Mike Barber tested the Loughborough keeper but without any joy.  Just as Sevenoaks were beginning to look comfortable two cheap turnovers in quick succession enabled the students to break and take the lead once more. The game continued in this rather frenetic fashion with one side taking the lead only for the other to draw level - Parnis, Torry and Barber the scorers for Sevenoaks. The game entered the final five minutes with the scores level at 5-5 only for a controversially awarded goal to give Loughborough the lead, and after a manic few moments, their first three points of the tournament. 

Sevenoaks 7 v 5 Bath

After a disappointing start Sevenoaks went into their second game against Team Bath knowing only a win would keep their Wembley dream alive. Woefully, in spite of that impetus, yet again Sevenoaks started poorly conceding two goals in as many minutes.  Fortunately for Oaks their talisman George Torry was on hand to claw one back, robbing the Bath defender and calmly slotting it past the onrushing keeper to provide a much-needed boost. Sevenoaks continued to build momentum culminating with Barber finishing off a well worked short corner routine to draw level.  Further goals from Smith and Barber briefly fired Sevenoaks into the lead but Oaks were unable to keep Bath at bay as a poor spell left them 5-4 down with eight minutes to go.  Refusing to let another three points slip through their fingers Sevenoaks rallied as Torry worked his magic down the left hand side, eliminating two defenders and emphatically finishing into the far corner.  The equaliser saw Bath capitulate as Smith and Barber went onto to bag Oaks a sixth and seventh, and with it, a crucial win.

Sevenoaks 1 v 0 East Grinstead

On day two Oaks faced tournament favourites and indoor hockey behemoths East Grinstead.  The opening few minutes proved a cagey affair as Oaks’ defensive credentials were put to the test. Oaks stuck to their game plan superbly, restricting EG’s free scoring forwards by defending deep, compacting the space and trying to exploit Grinstead on the counter. Somewhat surprisingly EG mirrored Oaks’ approach, sitting deep and allowing Oaks plenty of territory and possession.  Oaks looked a totally different side to the day before as they moved the ball well creating several openings, but the EG keeper remained resolute. The score at half time, 0-0.  The second half continued in much the same vein as EG struggled to break down the Sevenoaks defence. The ever faithful Chris and Nick Barker continued to frustrate the EG forwards with a string of exquisite tackles. On the rare occasion that Grinstead were able to fashion an opening, goalkeeper Richard Potton was on hand to deny them with several fantastic reaction saves.  It wasn’t until the thirty-fourth minute that the deadlock was finally broken. Player coach Duncan Parnis broke down the right hand, drawing the last EG defender before finding Torry on the far side with only the keeper to beat. Torry dragged the ball onto his reverse and had the composure to slot the ball underneath the oncoming EG keeper handing Sevenoaks a deserved one-nil lead.  Sevenoaks defended for their lives as EG piled on the pressure looking to get something out of the game. A seemingly impossible save on the line by captain Nick Barker in the dying moments secured a historic win for Sevenoaks and handed EG only their second domestic loss in nearly a decade.

Sevenoaks 7 v 7 Reading

In their final game of the tournament Sevenoaks entertained a Reading side that needed a victory to secure their place at Wembley. For Oaks a win or a draw would see them over the line.  Reading threw caution to the wind opting to start with six outfield players, their keeper watching from the side-line. The gamble initially paid off as Oaks failed to cope with the extra man conceding two early goals. Sevenoaks were quick to respond however as a well-earned short corner allowed Barber to continue his campaign for the tournament’s top goalscorer, firing into an empty net.  Reading though were not deterred and continued to dismantle the Sevenoaks defence adding another four goals to their tally. A David Smith short corner proved Oaks only consolation as they went into halftime 7-3 down.  Following some inspirational words from Parnis and determined not to let the opportunity pass them by Oaks came out the second half firing on all cylinders. A superb one-two between Chris Barker and George Torry saw Barker through on goal who slammed the ball into the far corner signifying Oaks’ intent.  Despite a promising start the score remained 7-4 for much of the half. It wasn’t until the last five minutes that Oaks rolled the dice, mimicking Reading’s earlier system and opting for six outfield players. Almost immediately the gamble paid dividends as an intricate move down the right hand side saw Barber finish the ball into the bottom corner. Thirty seconds later Barber found the net again following another flowing move down the right hand side.  With only a minute to go Sevenoaks pressed Reading high up the pitch forcing a turnover ball. They quickly recycled the ball to the opposite side finding the Oaks teenage New boy Jack Valentine who put it on a plate for Torry who found the back of the net taking the score to 7-7, the comeback complete.  The draw meant Sevenoaks finished fourth place in the league together with a place at Wembley finals night for the third year in a row.  Sevenoaks face Surbiton in the semi-finals on 29th January at 13:30 in England Hockey’s Super Sixes Finals Night at the SSE Arena Wembley.  The game will be televised live on BT Sport.

Indoor Wk2 1617

Indoor Wk2 Scorers

Weekend 1

Sevenoaks experienced a mixed weekend in the opening four games of the Indoor Premier League with two wins and two defeats, leaving them in 4th place in the table on six points heading into the second weekend on 7th and 8th January.  They will need to get six to nine points in the second weekend to secure a place in the top 4 and a spot at Wembley Finals Day at the end of January.

Sevenoaks 6 v 5 Bowdon

Sevenoaks opened up the campaign with a narrow 6-5 victory over Manchester side Bowdon.  In a topsy-turvy game, Oaks took the lead in the 11th minute when George Torry shot from wide left in the D into the back of the net.  A quick fire double from Bowdon just before half-time gave them a 2-1 lead at the break.  A slow start to the second half saw Oaks fall a further goal behind at 3-1.  However, 2 goals for Mike Barber and another for Torry saw Oaks race into a 4-3 lead with 10 minutes to play.  Bowdon were not done and two goals in a minute saw them re-take the lead at 5-4 with 8 minutes to play.  A strong finish by Oaks saw Jack Valentine level the scores at 5-5 with 5 minutes to play and a minute later Torry completed his hat-trick and gave Oaks a 6-5 lead, which they held onto until the final whistle.

 

Sevenoaks 0 v 2 Wimbledon

In the 2nd game on Saturday Oaks put in a very disappointing performance to lose 2-0 to Wimbledon.  In a tepid first half neither team really threatened to open the scoring until a penalty stroke was awarded to Wimbledon, but the effort struck the post and the score remained 0-0 at half time.  Early in the 2nd half Wimbledon managed to squeeze the ball past Richard Potton in the Oaks goal from a very narrow angle to take a 1-0 lead.  Oaks pushed and pressed, but couldn’t find a way through the organised Wimbledon defence, and with a late yellow card for David Smith leaving Oaks a man down, and having taken the keeper off for an additional outfield player, Oaks were hit on the break and Wimbledon scored in the final minute to win the game 2-0.

 

Sevenoaks 7 v 3 Canterbury

Sevenoaks bounced back from the disappointment of the Wimbledon game on Sunday morning with a significantly improved performance against Canterbury.  A blistering start to the game saw Nick Barker open the scoring after only 2 minutes, and this was added to a minute later by Duncan Parnis to make the score 2-0 after only 3 minutes.  Canterbury had no answer to Sevenoaks’s crisp passing and moving game, and in the 7th minute Oaks made it 3-0 when Mike Barber got his name on the scoresheet.  This signalled a golden patch of the game for Barber, as he added a 2nd and 3rd in the 10th and 15th minutes respectively, to complete his hat-trick and put Sevenoaks 5-0 up before half-time.  Canterbury pulled a goal back before the interval, so the sides went into the break with Oaks leading 5-1.  After the break, Canterbury reduced the deficit to three making the score 5-2, but any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Barber grabbed his 4th goal of the game to put Oaks 6-2 up.  There was still time for the sides to exchange goals before the final whistle, with Parnis adding his 2nd of the game for Oaks, giving a final score of Sevenoaks 7 v 3 Canterbury.

 

Sevenoaks 4 v 5 Surbiton

In what was probably the game of the weekend, Sevenoaks came off on the wrong end of a 5-4 score-line against early league pace-setters Surbiton.  The Surrey side made a strong start to the game taking the lead in the 4th minute, before adding a second in the 7th minute to race into a 2-0 lead.  Oaks responded strongly pulling a goal back with a well worked penalty corner, finished off by Mike Barber to make it 2-1.  The game was disrupted somewhat by players from both sides being sin-binned for technical fouls, but it was Surbiton who next added to their tally, when a slick attacking play was too good for Potton in the Oaks goal and made the score 3-1.  A stunning 2 minutes before half-time saw Oaks draw level at 3-3 with first Barber adding to his tally, before Jack Valentine scored the equaliser to send the sides into the break level.  Surbiton re-took the lead shortly after half-time to make it 4-3 in the 24th minute.  The next 15 minutes were scoreless but contained some of the best hockey of the tournament from both sides.  The Oaks defence including Nick and Chris Barker, and at times Duncan Parnis and Rob Schilling were resolute and repelled whatever Surbiton had to offer, and when they were breached Richard Potton was on hand in nets to keep the ball out.  The Oaks attack of Torry, Barber, Valentine and Smith were causing Surbiton problems, but couldn’t find a way through, until a penalty corner in the 39th minute when Torry found the top corner to draw the sides level at 4-4 with only seconds remaining.  Perhaps naively Oaks went in search of a winner with 10 seconds to go, and a turnover deep in the Surbiton half enabled them one last attack, and some excellent skill from the attacker saw him enter the D and lift the ball over the advancing Potton and cross the line as the clock ticked down to zero.  There was some debate as to whether the ball crossed the line before or after the clock had hit 0, but the absence of a buzzer meant there was no way to settle the debate and the result was a 5-4 defeat for Oaks.

The result sees Oaks sit 4th in the table, level on points with Reading, but ahead on goal difference.  Oaks face Reading in the next round of fixtures in what will be a pivotal game in their chances of qualifying for Wembley finals day.  Mike Barber’s haul of 8 goals over the weekend sees him in 2nd place in the individual goal-scoring charts, and he’ll be looking to add to his tally next time round in fixtures against Loughborough Students, Bath Buccaneers, Reading and East Grinstead to help Oaks reach Wembley for the third season in a row.   

 

 

16-17 Preview

Despite a Christmas break in the National Conference East, the mince pies and mulled wine are on hold for Sevenoaks Men's 1st team, as they prepare for the first weekend of fixtures in the National Indoor Premier League. For the fourth consecutive season, Sevenoaks will compete in the premier indoor competition in England, and will hope to match their achievements of the last two seasons, when they secured top four finishes in the round robin league stage to qualify for finals day held at Wembley arena. The league fixtures are split across two weekends, with four matches over the 17th & 18th December and the remaining four after Christmas on the 7th and 8th January. 

Oaks begin their campaign on Saturday 17th December at 2.30pm against Manchester side Bowdon, and later the same day (6.30pm) they face Wimbledon. On Sunday they face Canterbury at 11am and Surbiton at 3pm. A productive weekend of points would stand Oaks in good stead for a top 4 spot, so it is imperative that they get off to a good start. Over the last few weeks they have had friendly fixtures against Surbiton, Canterbury and reigning champions East Grinstead, so they have prepared well and will hope to hit the ground running on Saturday. 

Unlike previous years Oaks go into the weekend with no external players registered, instead utilising only players from the outdoor squad. Indoor rules permit teams to register two players playing their outdoor hockey for other clubs. However, new signings for the outdoor squad this season all bring significant indoor experience, with Arnau Izard being involved in junior Spanish international squads, Rob Schilling representing the USA and David Smith having significant domestic indoor experience with Sheffield Hallam and Hampstead & Westminster. 

The squad go into the first weekend, being held at Bromsgrove School, hopeful that their experience over the last few seasons, alongside their preparation this season, will give them an excellent opportunity to secure another top four finish.