North Heath off to a flying start in title defence

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Title holders North Heath A got off to a great start in Horsham District Primary Schools Hockey League, with straight wins in its group and none of its opponents able to score a goal against them.

Warnham’s record in its group was near identical, with one goal less and Holbrook were nearly as impressive but they actually let one goal in.

Finlay Duneclift starred for a Southwater A team that won two and drew two of its matches in Group 1. Steyning B, chiefly inspired by Will Murray, won a game more than Southwater but lost 3-0 when the two met. Billingshurst and Northolmes both competed well, and drew with Southwater, but with only one victory each they ended up in mid table. Leechpool suffered a full house of defeats but now they have had their first experience of how an artificial pitch plays are likely to come back stronger in the second meeting.

James Francis was the scoring force behind Warnham’s success, netting five goals. North Heath B, with goalkeeper Adrien Reed in outstanding form, were their nearest challengers courtesy of two 1-0 wins but they also felt Warnham’s wrath, 3-0 in the final game. Southwater B lost all three of their games but debutante goalkeeper Ellie Chapman can be proud of her efforts in making opponents work hard to score. Steyning A contested three close matches but lost two to finish third. Pat Ford can be pleased with his work for the Steyning A cause.

Kingslea B were nearest challengers to North Heath A in Group 3 but when they took on last year’s winners nerves got the better of them as six goals without reply, the night’s biggest scoreline, indicated. Shelley and Steyning C suffered on Kingslea’s rebound however. Shelley made a better attempt at cramping North Heath’s style only conceding twice and a Madeleine Wade goal against Steyning C elevated them into third spot. Relatively inexperienced Steyning C battled gamely and will have learned much from their first competitive outing.

Nathan Coward was main man and top scorer behind Holbrook’s table-topping exploits in Group 4. Kingslea A, who had Nicholle Chua playing well in defence, were their nearest challengers but the 4-1 scoreline in Holbrook’s favour when the two met is a measure of the dominance the Holbrookers enjoyed. Discounting Holbrook matches the group was very close there was not a lot separating Castlewood and St Mary’s, Horsham from Kingslea. An exciting 2-1 win for Castlewood against St Mary’s ensured the latter finished in bottom spot, despite a good performance from the Saints’ Billy Johnson.

Next meeting is on Friday 25 November with teams being stranded out into ability-based divisions informed by their placings in this first outing.

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