Full marks as Spencer and skipper Balbirnie eye promotion charge

Team spirit: The Spencer players are in the right frame of mind to win promotion from Surrey Premier Division One, according to skipper Philip Balbirnie

Team spirit: The Spencer players are in the right frame of mind to win promotion from Surrey Premier Division One, according to skipper Philip Balbirnie

First published in Sport Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

Spencer Hockey Club skipper Philip Balbirnie is adamant that his side has the desire for promotion to the second tier.

Despite a 1-0 defeat at London Wayfarers last weekend, the Fieldview-based side are sitting top of the Surrey Premier Division One – clear of Chichester by two points.

However, Chichester are the visitors this weekend – coming off the back of a 7-1 demolition of bottom club Eastbourne.

Despite the vast difference in last weekend’s respective results, Balbirnie remains confident of getting a result that would open a five-point gap at the top.

“Losing to Wayfarers doesn’t change anything – whatever the result we would have needed to get something out of Chichester, so the focus has not changed,” he said.

“Chichester are scoring a lot of goals, and they have the tightest defence in the league, but our defeat at Wayfarers was the first time in as long as I can remember that we have not scored.

“And in the 2013 calendar year, we lost just twice, so our defensive record is just as tight.”

He added: “We’re positive – we are at full strength and we have some selection headaches which is good.

“We beat Sevenoaks, who are third, at home the weekend before last so we’re confident on our home pitch.”

Only the top team wins promotion to the MHL Conference East, and should it be Spencer, they have plenty of experience to cope with the step up.

Also, according to the skipper, the balance within the side is perfect, and the drive is evident.

He said: “We have a great mix of guys who have played at Conference level, there are only two in the side have not.

“Adam Wilson is a former South African international, he is a quality player, and Simon Pinks used to play for Reading in the Euro Hockey League. But the whole team is very strong.

“We know what going up is about – but we also work incredibly hard, there is a desire among the guys to push on up.”

He added: “We’ve been close in the past and not necessarily wanted it enough, but this year we have a team that want it.”

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