OLD SOUTHENDIAN stayed on track for Premier league hockey with a 2-1 win over promotion-rivals Havering.
It moved the Old Boys a point clear at the top of the East Division One table with seven games of the season remaining. It is all a far cry from the last campaign where they only avoided relegation on the last day of the campaign.
Havering arrived at Warners Bridge on the back of a six-game winning streak and spearheaded by their influential playmaker, Paul Dover.
But the hosts boasted their own eight-match unbeaten run and were ready to battle for the spoils.
The first half was tight, and the Old Boys were indebted to a superb save from goalkeeper Nick Richards, diving back onto his line to intercept a goalbound shot after an initial strike had ricocheted off of the post.
And they built on that by taking the lead soon after when top scorer Tim Robinson drove the ball home. They extended the lead early in the second half, much to the delight of the vocal home crowd. And while Havering would end the game with a conversion rate of no goals from seven short corners, the Old Boys converted their only set piece of the game as Mike Smithson dived full length to deflect in James Byford’s push to wide of the far post.
Then with Smithson picking up a 10-minute yellow card for a rash challenge, the Old Boys set out their defensive stall. Havering threw everything at the home defence over the remaining 20 minutes, but a gutsy and resolute performance, spearheaded by man of the match Luke Knowles in central defence, restricted to the opposition to a single goal to end the game as they held on for the win.
But Old Southendian’s second team saw a three-match winning run ended as they went down 3-2 at Redbridge & Ilford.
But there were wins for the third and sixth teams. The ladies’ club resume fixtures on Saturday.