Big double header for hockey club

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A big weekend awaits Eastbourne Hockey Club as they kick-off their Southern Premier Division campaign on Saturday, followed by an exciting cup clash on Sunday.

The Saffrons outfit welcome Milton Keynes for their first encounter of the season before travelling to National league side Havant in the EHCup second round the day after.

However, manager David Adelston is refusing to entertain thoughts about the latter fixture until after the more important matter of domestic duty on Saturday.

He said, “We have got the two matches this weekend but the big one is Saturday’s league match.

“Sunday will be a very tough game for us and it’s nice to be able to test yourselves against those in a higher level but we are only concentrating on the Milton Keynes match right now.

“That will be the one that we really judge ourselves on.”

Milton Keynes finished 10th in the league last season, just one place and five points above an Eastbourne side who recorded a satisfying 5-1 win when the sides met at the Saffrons last season.

However, their opponents responded with an 8-1 mauling during the reverse fixture to leave Adelston wary of the challenge they present this time round.

“Every match in the league is tough for us this year and Milton Keynes is no different. You don’t know from one year to the next how teams will get on so, although they were near the bottom last year, that means nothing this year.

“It will be a good match, no doubt. The rain we’ve had recently will actually help because it allows the ball to move across the pitch a bit quicker. “Last winter the pitch was really dry so a little rain is actually a good thing for us.”

Eastbourne’s preparation for the league was marred slightly by a 5-0 defeat to lower-league Lewes I in a friendly last weekend but Adelston insists the side are not letting that affect them when they kick-off at the weekend.

“Aside from that result, we’ve had a good pre-season and we did have a lot of players missing on Saturday. We’ve been training really well though and, although we don’t have great availability for either match this weekend, it gives us a good opportunity to give some of the other players a run out.

“Pre-season results become irrelevant the minute the season starts but what is important is to get those friendly matches under our belt so we can be ready for the league, which we are.”