Bee­ston are still buzzing de­spite fail­ing to seize on early ad­van­tage

The Hockey Paper - - MEN'S PREMIER DIVISION - By Jack Miller

BEE­STON ended their sea­son on a high with a two-goal tri­umph over East Grin­stead, and Ol­lie Wil­lars is de­ter­mined to view the pos­i­tives de­spite let­ting a com­mand­ing po­si­tion in the league slip in re­cent weeks.

The Bees fin­ished fifth in the Pre­mier Divi­sion – one place higher than last term – af­ter goals from Richard Lawrence and Joe Sharp helped them leapfrog Sun­day’s op­po­nents.

But while the cam­paign has ended more pos­i­tively than the last, it could have been so much bet­ter for the Not­ting­ham out­fit af­ter five wins and a draw from their open­ing seven fix­tures.

At that point Wil­lars and co. might have been plot­ting a play­off push, but while Sun­day’s tri­umph was only their se­cond three­p­ointer since the Christ­mas break, the de­fender in­sists they are proud of their progress.

“It was a good win in the end – those sort of games can end up as a bit of a dead rub­ber but we were adamant we wanted to fin­ish fifth and im­prove on what we achieved last year,” said Wil­lars.

“We’re eight points bet­ter off, so that was re­ally im­por­tant for us. When you look at where we were at Christ­mas, we def­i­nitely would have said that we should have been fin­ish­ing in the play-off places.

“But we had Gleggy (Mark Gleghorne) go out to In­dia and we had some oth­ers in South Africa with Eng­land as well, so that caused us to lose a bit of mo­men­tum.

“You only need to look at the goalscor­ing tally to see how im­por- tant Gleggy was for us, so not hav­ing him around was tough – we only lost to Wim­ble­don and Hamp­stead by one goal each.

“But we can be re­ally proud of our ef­forts. If you look at where we were at the start of the sea­son, it was all about sta­bil­is­ing af­ter los­ing some key play­ers.

“We want to re­cruit well in the sum­mer, get back into the top four and be back win­ning the ti­tle again in the next few sea­sons – it’s as sim­ple as that, we want to push on again.” East Grin­stead edged what was a tight­ly­con­tested first half, with Bees stop­per Si­mon Hu­jwan im­pe­ri­ous be­tween the sticks and deny­ing both Ash­ley Jack­son and Si­mon Faulkner from penalty cor­ners.

But the hosts got more of a foothold af­ter the break, and cards for EG’s Jack­son, Faulkner and Andy Piper changed the mo­men­tum of the clash.

Bee­ston took the lead from Lawrence’s penalty corner flick past the help­less post­man, and they con­sol­i­dated their lead with ten min­utes re­main­ing through Sharp’s mishit shot, which caught an East Grin­stead shin pad and found the back­board. This cer­tainly had the feel of an endof-sea­son en­counter in Not­ting­ham, but one man that stood out was man-of-the-match Rolf Steen­metser – Bee­ston’s dutch de­fender who will head back to his home­land at the end of the sea­son.

Wil­lars added: “There’s been a lot of work gone on be­hind the scenes to set up this part­ner­ship with HC Rot­ter­dam, and it’s clearly bear­ing fruit. We want to move it on and bring more big Euro­pean clubs on board.

“Rolf ’s been a su­perb player for us this sea­son; he came from the Dutch un­der­18s so he’s still a young lad but some of his play has been su­perb.

“He’s been very im­pres­sive so I’m sure he’ll have a bright fu­ture back in Hol­land – it’s a shame for us we can’t keep him any longer!

“He said he’s learnt a lot and it says a lot for our league that for­eign play­ers are able to come over and im­prove.

“We’ve had Harry (Martin) and Dixie (Adam Dixon) go the other way this year. They are lov­ing it, learn­ing lots, and play­ing re­ally com­pet­i­tive hockey as well.”

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