Oxted and Brooklands MU played out a dramatic, eight-goal draw as the race for a coveted top-six spot further heated up in the Men’s Premier Division.
Both sides are right in the hunt to be on the correct side of the post-Christmas split and this 4-4 draw could yet prove decisive.
Brooklands raced into a 2-0 lead as Andrew Jackson netted twice in the opening five minutes but goals from Mark Galloway, Peter Friend and Nick Giles turned things back in Oxted’s favour.
Leo Watton levelled matters at 3-3 with a 43rd-minute strike from a penalty corner before Sam Driver put Oxted on top once more, only for there to be late drama when captain Peter Flanagan snatched a draw for Brooklands with a 70th-minute goal.
It means Oxted are sixth in the Men’s Premier Division, four points ahead of Brooklands one place below.
At the summit, the top three of Surbiton, Wimbledon and Old Georgians all recorded big wins.
Surbiton clocked up a 5-1 triumph away at Beeston with Ben Boon, Jamie Golden (twice), David Goodfield and Rob Farrington finding the net for the visitors before Sam Apoola grabbed a consolation for the hosts.
Five was also the magic number for Old Georgians who won 5-0 on the road at Hampstead & Westminster.
James Tindall got the ball rolling with a goal after 12 minutes and Tom Carson double the advantage before half-time.
In the second half, Ed Carson and Ashley Jackson scored within three minutes of each other and Tom Carson’s second goal rounded things off.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon had to work harder for victory on coach Karl Stagno’s return to his old club East Grinstead but Ed Horler’s second-half double gave them a 4-2 win.
It had been 2-2 at half-time when Ian Sloan and Peter Scott’s early goals for the Dons were cancelled out by Benjamin Mackey from a penalty corner and Jamie Wallace from open play.
And in the division’s other game, University of Exeter’s wait for a first point of the season goes on after Holcombe recorded a huge 7-2 triumph, as Nick Bandurak scored twice in the first five minutes and Barry Middleton also netted early to set Holcombe on their way.
Division One North
Loughborough Students stayed perfect atop Division One North as they made it seven wins from seven this season by thrashing Deeside Ramblers 9-2. The Students now have 33 goals to their name but that’s still four less than second-placed Cardiff & Met, who found scoring easy but stopping their opponents less so against Sheffield Hallam as they edged to a 5-4 victory. University of Nottingham kept up the pressure in third with a narrow 3-2 win away at Olton & West Warwicks, while Bowdon thrashed City of Peterborough 8-1 and nothing could separate Cambridge City and University of Birmingham in a 1-1 draw.
Division One South
Reading maintained their 100 per cent record in Division One South but they left it late, requiring a 69th-minute goal to win 3-2 away at Southgate. At the other end of the table, Havant’s wait for a first point of the season goes on after they narrowly lost 2-1 to Old Cranleighan, while the battle of second vs third ended 1-1 between Team Bath Buccs and Canterbury. A draw was also the result between strugglers Brighton & Hove and Oxford Hawks – with 2-2 the final score – while Sevenoaks lost 3-2 to Teddington and drop to fifth
Old Loughtonians extended their lead atop the Conference East as they battled past London Edwardians 3-2. Edwardians stay fourth despite defeat but Loughtonians’ advantage was increased because Richmond were held to a thrilling 4-4 draw by Hampstead & Westminster 2s. Remarkably, that wasn’t the only 4-4 draw in the division as West Herts and London Wayfarers also scored eight goals between them, while Spencer’s recent good form came to an end with a 2-1 defeat to bottom side Indian Gymkhana and Bromley & Beckenham suffered a heavy home loss, beaten 5-1 by Wapping.
The two unbeaten sides at the top of the Conference Midlands remain so as both Harborne and Barford Tigers recorded away wins. Harborne squeezed past Lichfield 2-1, while the Tigers bested St Albans 3-0 and they opened up an even greater gap on third-place Harleston Magpies, who fell to a third straight loss at the hands of Loughborough Town – 2-0. Bedford and Khalsa Leamington contested the most entertaining game of the weekend as they drew 4-4, while a solitary goal for Cambridge University was enough for them to beat University of Birmingham 2s 1-0.
Belper remain top of the Conference North as they came from a goal down to beat Wakefield 3-1 on the road. They failed to extend their advantage over the teams in second and third however, as Timperley downed Preston 3-0 and still unbeaten Didsbury Northern ended a run of three successive draws by getting back in the win column – 3-1 over University of Durham 2s. Elsewhere, Doncaster were 2-1 victors over Leeds in a Yorkshire derby and Alderley Edge experience the joy of six by beating Beeston 2s 6-2.
There are currently just six points separating the top seven sides in the Conference West and there were goals aplenty in the latest round of action. University of Bristol are still top of the pile but their lead has been cut to just one point after they drew 2-2 with fellow student side Cardiff University, while Ashmoor jumped to second by winning a thriller 4-3 away to University of Exeter 2s. Isca drop to third after their 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham, in what was the hosts’ first win of the season, while Clifton Robinsons stay fourth after a 3-3 draw with Plymouth Marjon and Fareham closed the gap by triumphing 3-1 over in-form Chichester, ending their three-game winning streak.