South Saxons Hockey Club’s men’s first team fell to a 5-2 defeat away to second-placed Marden Russets on Saturday.
A Saxons side missing George Eldridge, Lloyd Williams and captain Paddy Cornish was caught on the break early on as Marden took the lead.
The home team doubled its advantage not long afterwards as the ball broke down the right-hand side and Marden scored with a strike into the roof of the net.
Saxons fought back as good link-up play by Sam Bunday and Chris Meredith got the ball into better territory.
Saxons were back in the game when Jon Meredith fended off a number of opposing defenders before playing an aerial ball over the defence to Nick Taylor. He came into the D and found Jamie Busbridge, who grabbed the goal.
A good spell of play followed as Saxons won a couple of short corners back to back, but Alex Coombs was unable to convert.
Saxons committed men forward, but were again punished on the break and went in at half time 4-1 down.
In the second half, Saxons were knocking at the door only to see attack after attack repelled by the Marden defence.
Man of the match Jon Meredith controlled the midfield and Taylor was causing serious problems for the home defence down the right.
The pressure eventually paid off when Andrew Acott played the perfect inside out pass to find Gavin Cload free in the D and he slammed the ball home.
Coombs and Taylor did well to win further short corners, but Saxons were again unable to convert.
The home side added a fifth goal towards the end of a second half that Saxons had dominated.
The Hastings side was made to pay for another slow start away from home.
Ninth-placed Saxons should welcome back Eldridge and Williams for the visit of Crawley this coming Saturday. Push-back at Horntye Park is 1.30pm.