South Saxons Hockey Club won 4-2 away to Sutton Valence II in a final game winner-takes-all battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
The returning George Eldridge scored a hat-trick to give Saxons a victory which will ensure they finish off the bottom of South Hockey League Kent/Sussex - Regional 2.
Saxons came out all guns blazing in humid conditions, with slick play from the back line finding Eldridge, who ran fiercely at the opposition before slotting his and Saxons’ first of the contest.
However, a counter-attack from the home team resulted in a scrappy goal being slotted past Saxons goalkeeper Stewart Feakes to level the scores at the break.
Injured captain Paddy Cornish delivered the half time team-talk, inspiring his side to an improved performance after the restart. Neat work from Alex Coombs and Harry Reece ended in a Saxons short corner, which Eldridge converted into the bottom corner.
Saxons piled on the pressure and increasingly worked the ball down the right flank. Stand-in captain Gavin Cload linked effectively with James Bunday and Jamie Busbridge, and the latter struck a Coombs cross into the net for Saxons’ third goal.
Eldridge completed his hat-trick and put the game beyond doubt by coolly slotting home after a Saxons effort was blocked on the line by an opposition
hip. Valence scored again in the dying seconds, but it was too little, too late. The matchball was sponsored by El Paso Mexican Restaurant.
Standings (played 20 matches unless stated): 1 Blackheath & OE 50pts, 2 King’s & Alleyn’s 43, 3 Brighton & Hove 36, 4 Crawley 36, 5 Sevenoaks II 31, 6 Lewes II 27, 7 Mid-Sussex 23, 8 Cliftonville (19) 21, 9 Canterbury III 19, 10 SOUTH SAXONS 15, 11 Sutton Valence II (19) 12.
See tomorrow’s Hastings Observer for reaction.