Hockey: Southend & Benfleet sides make hard fought start to their seasons

Starting the season - or all four Southend & Benfleet Ladies teams  Pictures: Naomi Barker/Alan Radley
Starting the season - or all four Southend & Benfleet Ladies teams Pictures: Naomi Barker/Alan Radley

THE opening day of the hockey season was hard fought for all four Southend & Benfleet Ladies teams with only the seconds picking up a point away at Upminster 3’s.

During the summer, a major reshuffle of players meant that S&B teams lacked the chance to play together and were handing debuts to several younger players who stepped up from the junior section.

Southend & Benfleet first team lost at home 3-0 to a well drilled Upminster 2’s and even a debut for goalkeeper Carmel Snyman could not prevent Upminster taking a 2-0 lead into half time.

The second half produced an improved team performance with a flurry of penalty corners testing the away goalkeeper but a goal still eluded the S&B team, with Upminster eventually adding a third.

The S&B second team opened their game with attacking intent but against the run of play Upminster 3’s scored a well worked goal.

It wasn’t long before S&B were on level terms through a strike into the top corner from the edge of the circle by Naomi Barker.

This lead was short-lived and Upminster led 2-1 at half time.

More goals were exchanged in the final period with Anna Tutton equalising for S&B on her second team debut, with a sweetly positioned hit into the bottom corner.

Upminster scored again to lead for a third time but S&B were not to be denied a point with Emillie Burton managing to squeeze the ball through the Upminster defence resulting in a 3-3 draw and a share of the points.

The third team hosted Old Southendian 2’s with the away team scoring in the first 10 minutes.

However S&B's defence regrouped to keep Old South at bay before conceding close to half time.

The second half showed promise with the team beginning to gel and becoming more confident playing the ball round the back to open up the play.

But S&B could not convert this to a goal and ended up conceding a third to eventually lose 3-0.

Elsewhere, the fourth team travelled to a strong Braintree 3’s side and were on the wrong end of a 7-2 score line.

With a new captain and two players in their first adult match, Karis Young and Gracie Green, S&B were 5-0 down at half time.

A spirited second half saw goals from Jessika Stafford and Claire King but two more Braintree goals dashed any hopes of a comeback.

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