Hockey: Tunbridge Wells forced to wait for title decider after allowing three-goal lead to slip

Pam Mills

THE juggernaut that secured promotion from South Premier League Division Two last weekend was brought to a shuddering halt by Banbury at Kent College.

Tunbridge Wells needed just a point to secure the league title but despite going three goals ahead the second-placed side clawed their way back.

The Oxfordshire club had inflicted Wells’ only previous defeat of the season but Wells went on the attack and player-coach Ben Allberry delivered a neat deflection to score from a Harry Roberts delivery.

Then Sam George found space to burst into the D and after James Beck’s initial shot was saved, Ben Brandt was in the right place to slot the ball into an open goal.

The hosts continued to put pressure on the Banbury defence and Simon Hare, who had been bossing the midfield, stole the ball and neatly converted a reverse-stick shot.

Despite going three goals down Banbury were playing a high press and the hosts were indebted to James Harris in goal for a handful of crucial saves.

But a well-placed aerial ball from deep enabled a visiting forward to deflect the ball round Harris and slot home to reduce the deficit.

And then a simple error in the Wells back line reduced the deficit further as the home side went in at half-time leading 3-2.

As the pitch grew frostier in the second half, Banbury played the smarter hockey and Wells continued to make simple mistakes in dangerous areas.

That allowed Banbury to score three times and they were deserved winners, moving to within one win of securing promotion themselves.

Wells will be looking to bounce back on Saturday (March 24, 3pm start) when they travel to Guildford seeking that final championship point from their penultimate match.

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