Week 3 featured match review: EG 1-3 Beeston

Ashley Jackson and Mo Gandhi in action for Beeston and East Grinstead in NOW Pensions Men's Hockey League 450x291

A brace from Sam Ward ensured Beeston maintained their 100% start to the season with an excellent 3-1 win over East Grinstead at Saint Hill. Ward struck in the 43rd and 57th minutes to take his tally to six in three games this campaign, whilst Ashley Jackson scored a late consolation goal for the hosts.

Both sides could have taken the lead through early penalty corners. First Ward was denied by Richard Potton in the East Grinstead goal before at the other end George Pinner was down well twice to turn the ball around the post from Jackson’s drag flicks. It was from a penalty corner that Beeston eventually took the lead. On 19 minutes Richard Lawrence beat Potton with a low drag flick that thundered into the backboard to the goalkeeper’s left.

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The visitors controlled much of the rest of the half, keeping possession well and not allowing East Grinstead time or space whenever the Sussex side had the ball. Ward went close to doubling the lead just before half time but his shot from an acute angle on the left side of the D went wide of the near post.

Beeston came out after the break searching for the all-important second goal. Ward threatened once more, but his slapped effort was smothered by Potton and Lawrence had another penalty corner batted away by the East Grinstead goalkeeper. Adam Dixon had the clearest chance of the match so far just six minutes into the half. The Bees’ captain cut inside on the right of the D and hit a reverse stick shot that was brilliantly saved by Potton’s outstretched foot. They didn’t have to wait long to score their second goal, however. On 43 minutes David Ames broke forward down the right hand side. With time and space, the No.5 fired a pass into the D where Ward reacted the quickest to get a deflection and make it 2-0.

East Grinstead threatened sporadically. Andy Piper did well to rob the defender and send a reverse stick cross fizzing across the D, agonizingly out of the reach of the diving Mark Luns. Pinner kept out a Joe Naughalty penalty corner and then Adam Jordan shot wide from another set piece as the home side tried desperately to salvage something from the game. Ward had other ideas and after 57 minutes he effectively settled the game with a smart turn and shot on the reverse that beat Potton and went into the bottom corner for 3-0.

East Grinstead forced a series of late penalty corners, and just when it looked like Pinner would get a clean sheet, Jackson finally beat him with a high drag flick that nestled into the net via a slight deflection. It was too little, too late for the hosts and Beeston took a well-deserved three points.

East Grinstead coach Karl Stagno told England Hockey: “It’s nothing for us to worry about at this stage of the season. The important thing for us is the performance and we didn’t produce a performance today. We didn’t get into any kind of rhythm and we didn’t play our game and so I’m disappointed because of that rather than the result.” He added: “Beeston are a great side. They play with lots of energy and are willing to break forward in numbers. They played with a lot of intensity but we just didn’t match them in any of the areas we had to.”

Stagno’s opposite number, Matt Taylor was understandably delighted with his team’s third win from three matches: “I think we defended very well in the first half and took our chances in the second half so it’s a good result for us. We knew they’d be a threat in attack. Their front five is so strong so it was just a question of denying them the ball as much as we could and restricting their corners. I was pleased with how we did that in open play. Corner count was probably too high, but overall we’re extremely happy with how things went today.”

Captain Adam Dixon was full of praise for Beeston’s two-goal hero and top scorer, Sam Ward: “We lost Simon Egerton this year and he’s a proven goalscorer so it was obviously a big blow to see him leave. We’ve had Wardy at the club before so we know what he’s capable of. When he showed an interest in coming back to Beeston we bit his hand off. As you saw today he’s slotted straight in, really hit the ground running and picked up where Egerton left off. He’s had a superb start.”

Next week, Beeston play host to Surbiton, the only other unbeaten side in the top flight, who were held at home by Wimbledon this weekend. East Grinstead travel to Hampstead and Westminster, winners this week over Sheffield Hallam.