IT turned out to be a rather disappointing start to the new season for Milton Keynes Hockey Club, with both the men’s and ladies’ first teams losing their opening games.
The ladies were on the end of a 6-0 home beating by Eastcote, while the men lost by the odd goal in five at Eastbourne. And that was followed by an agonising golden goal defeat to Woking in the first round of the England Hockey Knockout Cup the next day.
Promoted from last season, the ladies faced a tough test against last year’s runners-up at Leon School, and it took Eastcote just five minutes to open the scoring as the visitors played with good pace and gave the hosts no time on the ball.
MK battled to try and make something of their attacks and chances in the D, but nothing was good enough to beat the Eastcote keeper. The defence of Helen Cooke, Steph Bates, Max McMenamin and player of the match Jess Barnes – along with goalkeeper Laura Pellington-Woodrow – had the tireless task of soaking up attack after attack, requiring some fine tackles and saves just to keep the score at 1-0.
Despite MK’s best efforts, Eastcote managed to find ways through and MK found themselves three goals down by half time. Following a firm team talk from coach Sue Sutton, they returned to the pitch for the second half determined to close the gap and put the Eastcote defence under some pressure.
However, with three minutes played in the second half Eastcote once again found a way through the MK defence to make it 4-0. The home side stepped up their game after that and Alice Vigor, Chrissy Little, Lindsay Kettleborough and Lou Reynolds all worked continuously to link the MK defence to attack and create goal scoring opportunities.
The final quarter of the game saw play switch from end to end, with MK creating a number of chances, but they were unable to take any and the visitors made them pay with two further goals to seal a 6-0 victory.
After an early midfield battle and going close through Ben Woodford, the men fell a goal behind at Eastbourne but quickly hit back when Brett Holland flicked the ball home from a penalty corner routine.
The visitors fell behind for a second time just after the break, but they responded well and drew level again from a penalty corner – Woodford firing towards goal for Mark Davies to squeeze the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.
The game became bit heated after that with both captains having to be called in by the umpires to calm their players down. And MK’s mood wasn’t helped by a scruffy late winner as Eastbourne took the lead for a third time and wouldn’t let it slip again.
After a long trip back from the south coast, the men then took on Woking in the cup the following day and thought they had opened the scoring early on – only for the umpire to disallow the goal after protestations from the visitors.
However, they did eventually take the lead when a ball in from Andy Dixon was met with a slight deflection at the back post by Scott Craig. And it go even better when Dixon added a second MK goal, leaving the Woking goalkeeper flapping as his drag flick found the bottom corner.
But Woking picked up the pace after that and scored two goals in quick succession to level the scores after 70 minutes, with golden goal extra time required to separate the sides. And it was the visitors who got it in the form of a scrappy goal that ricocheted in like a pinball to send them into the next round.
The ladies’ 3rds were beaten 4-0 by Marlow, the men’s 2nds thumped Banbury 6-0 – including two goals from Matt Darvell and one for man of the match Toby King – and the MK Samurai side beat Maidenhead 4-1.