David Adelston believes this season was a huge learning curve for players of Eastbourne Hockey Club, whether they are relegated or not.
Eastbourne still await their fate in the Southern Premier Division One but, despite Eastbourne’s 11th place finish, Adelston insists there are many positives to draw from the experience.
Adelston’s men face an anxious wait to see if they have secured their place in the Southern Premier division one for another season.
The mens firsts lost 3-0 away to Chichester on the final day of the season but Banbury’s defeat to London Wayfarers ensured Banbury ended the season at the bottom and in the automatic relegation slot. Eastbourne finished second from bottom and eagerly await the outcome of the three way play-off between Barford Tigers, Lichfield and Bromley & Beckingham.
Should Bromley & Beckingham win the Conference play-off Eastbourne will stay up.
Bromley and Beckingham began the three way play-off with a 5-3 victory over Barford Tigers.
He said, “It’s been a very tough season but it has been a very good learning one. The team have never played at this level before. It’s more disciplined, more professional and a very relentless league.
“The more they play in this league, the better they’ll get. If one or two of the players have an off day, the team suffers. In previous leagues we could get away with that, but in this one you pay for it. The players are now believing in themselves a lot more and I think they deserve to stay up.”
Eastbourne suffered a string of seven straight defeats in the middle of the season and only recorded five wins out of 22 encounters all year, three of which were in the last month of the season.
“We had a lot of factors to cope with early on in the season, such as suspensions of some of our key players and injury. We had a lot go against us and there has been a lack of competition for places in the side, which didn’t help.”
However, rather than focus on what went wrong this year, Adelston is full of praise for a number of his players.
“Rob Cornell has been excellent all season, as has our goalkeeper Chris Borsoi and Steve Perry, who was one of a very hard-working midfield.
Despite the defeats, we put in some great performances against Oxford University, who are one of the best sides around, and at home against Richmond and London Wayfarers. We drew twice with Spencer too, who finished up third.”
Regardless of what league they play in next year, Adelston knows work needs to be done over the summer to prepare for the next campaign.
“Tony Hayes has been training with the guys and making them a lot fitter, which shows. There’s lots of work to do over the summer in terms of talking and thinking. The players are extremely young, but they are older and wiser now.
“A good start to the next season is very important, particularly psychologically.”
Eastbourne still have a chance to salvage their season when they face Lewes Men’s 1s in the semi-final of the Sussex 1s cup on April 14.
Meanwhile Eastbourne Ladies lost 2-1 to Worthing the semi-final of the Sussex Vase Cup.