Oxted 1 Harleston 1

England Hockey League

Men's Conference East

Oxted 1 Harleston 1

HARLESTON made the long journey down to Surrey to face middle of the table Oxted. Their opponents had won the league last season but this year's form would suggest that there would not be much between the two sides.

With Gill out injured Tristan Baynes filled in at bottom diamond and James Fanger returned to the squad after injury. Harleston started strongly pushing forward early. Magpies deserved to take the lead when Duncan Graves was released through the middle of the pitch, the youngster rounded the keeper before cruelly slipping resulting in his shot being forced wide. From here Oxted started to take control of the game - playing the ball long distances through the middle of the pitch catching Magpies off guard. Despite coming under pressure from a couple of corners the Harleston team hung on until 15 minutes when Oxted took the advantage when they slotted home at the back post.

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Harleston tried to up their tempo but Oxted continued to move the ball round superbly, creating many overloads when possible putting the Harleston team under pressure. Harleston did create another great opportunity when Tom Dunnet caressed the ball into the path of Ben Gowin but again the forward found the keeper in great form keeping Oxted in front. Harleston hung on to the keep the score at 1-0 for the remainder of the half.

Harleston started the second half in better form moving the ball around and creating overloads of their owns. Despite seeing more of the ball Harleston could not create any more clear cut chances. Harleston were reduced to 10 men for five minutes following a crunching tackle from Wheelhouse, although numerically outnumbered Harleston started to create chances and with 10 minutes to go Harleston snatched a vital goal when Baynes followed up a short corner guiding the ball over the keeper into the net.

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Both teams created chances in the last 10 minutes, Leigh Sitch heroically clearing the ball off the goal line at the back post and Hipwell forcing the Oxted keeper into another fine save. Harleston were satisfied with a point but need to improve on their first half performance before they face Southgate at home next weekend in their final match before the Christmas break.

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