New skipper Chris Randall hails side's comeback spirit after dramatic weekend
Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club men’s first team embarked on a new era with Christian Randall as captain in dramatic circumstances.
Randall's side made an inauspicious start to Saturday's South Central Men's Division One North clash with Wallingford, going 2-0 down and having a man sent off for dissent.
However, goals from James Higgins and Jamie Bairstow rescued a point for Newbury, who ended a run of four straight defeats.
Goalkeeper Lawrence McCabe, who relinquished the armband after last week's defeat to Yateley, was man of the match.
The following day, Sunday, Randall's men progressed to the next round of the league cup after beating Aylesbury on penalty shuffles.
The game finished 2-2 before Newbury won 3-1 in the shootout with Jamie Bairstow scoring twice and Hallam Kelly, Kevin Randall and Peter Ruggiero all on target.
"I'm enjoying the new role, even if there's a lot more admin than I expected," Chris Randall said.
"We've had a few bad results and the morale in the team hasn't been great, but I was so pleased with how we responded.
"We sent out a message that we're united as a team, we worked for each other, kept our heads down and pulled together, it's a good start.
"I like to lead from the front on the pitch.
"I want us all to work towards a collective goal and have a strong finish to the season – and make sure we have fun."
Meanwhile, goals from Ben Stump, Joe Ruggiero and Mark Hutchinson fired the second team to a 3-1 win over Sonning 2nd, their second win in three games.
The third team were thumped 3-0 by South Central Men’s Division Four North leaders Buckingham but the fourths put three past South Central Men’s Division One Thames’ basement boys Tadley as goals from Aleksey Storchak, Andy Hastings and Tom Hope helped them to a 3-0 win and made it back-to-back victories.
The masters’ team were also in winning form, beating Portsmouth 5-0 as a brace from Johnny Neil and goals from Blue Nolan, Hugh Thompson and Neil McCullen inspired the veterans to their first win since November.
It wasn’t quite such a good week for the ladies as two goals from Hannah Jones proved in vain as the first team suffered a 3-2 defeat to Staines, their fourth South Central Women’s Division One North defeat in the last five.
The second team were well beaten 3-0 by Reading Riots but the third team managed much better, thumping Marlow 6th 4-0 following goals from Katy Hall, Kiana Miller, Robyn Matthews and Tegan Murray.
The fourth team continued their sensational run, winning for the 11th time in the last 12 thanks to a comfortable 4-1 win over South Central Women’s Division Three Thames bottom side Wycombe 5th.
Katherine Cain scored twice, Helen Hamlin scored her second of the season and Beverley Williams completed the rout for the league leaders, who are ahead of Windsor 3rd on points difference and have a game in hand on their rivals.