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Competitive hockey set to return this weekend as local teams conclude pre-season preparations

Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club men’s first team concluded their pre-season preparations with an entertaining 4-3 defeat to Winchester.

The men beat Reading III the previous week thanks to a brace from Ben Cook and a strike from Piers Cunliffe and drew 1-1 with Gloucester thanks to another Cunliffe goal at the beginning of the month, making it one win, one defeat and a draw from their pre-season campaign.

Having endured a turbulent season last term that saw them change captains midway through and struggle for form and consistency, the men will be hoping for smoother sailing ahead of their South Central Men’s Division 1 North opener against Berkhamsted & Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.

Action from the men’s second team’s warm-up game against Reading. Pictures by Chris Forsey
Action from the men’s second team’s warm-up game against Reading. Pictures by Chris Forsey

Meanwhile, the men’s second team rounded off their preparations with a game against local rivals Reading.

Taking on rivals Reading
Taking on rivals Reading

The second team have enjoyed a promising pre-season, beating Gloucester II 3-2 and thrashing Andover II 6-0.

Cameron Dunlop has top scored with three goals, while Nick Barrett and Ben Stump have both scored twice.

A painful end to pre-season for some
A painful end to pre-season for some

The second team will look to take their free-scoring form into their South Central Men’s Division 2 North curtain-raiser, which will see them travel to Henley II.

Defending a short corner
Defending a short corner

Elsewhere, the women’s first team will be keen to avoid a hangover following a difficult warm-up campaign, which ended in a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Wallingford.

The ladies will need to rediscover their goalscoring touch, having drawn a blank in both of their final two pre-season matches, drawing 0-0 with the second team in an inter-club friendly.

The women begin their South Central Women’s Division 1 North campaign with a trip to fellow Berkshire outfit Maidenhead II.

On the other hand, the second team will go into their South Central Women’s Division 1 Thames campaign full of confidence, following up their goalless draw with the first team with a 2-1 win over Wallingford III.

A Mary Cavanagh brace ensured the ladies finished pre-season unbeaten ahead of their first competitive match this weekend, a trip to Oxfordshire to take on Henley III.

Goals from Francois Kilian, Henry Durie and Oliver Soames weren’t enough to prevent the men’s third team from falling to a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Reading V.

The third team’s South Central Men’s Division 4 North season begins with the visit of Maidenhead II on Saturday.

Chris Obin scored a hat-trick as the men’s fourth team had a near-perfect final preparation game, thrashing South Berkshire V 6-0.

Two goals from William Jones and a solitary strike from Liam Kilsby-Steele completed the rout for the prolific fourth team, who kick-off their South Central Men’s Division 1 Thames campaign with a home game against Maidenhead III.

The men’s masters team schooled the men’s fifth team, hammering them 5-0 thanks to two goals for Guy West, two for Johnny Neill and one for Richard Pool.

The masters get their South Central Men’s O40 Wessex Masters League season underway with a trip to Havant Bees on Saturday, while the fifth team take on Staines IV in their South Central Men’s Division 2 Thames opener.

The women’s fifth team, who struggled for goals for all of last season, were blunted in attack once more as their pre-season concluded with a 1-0 defeat at home to Wallingford V.

The ladies will be hoping to open their South Central Women’s Division 5 Thames account with a trip to Amersham and Chalfont VII this weekend.

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