HELENSBURGH Hockey Club’s first team cemented their place at the top of the league in style on Saturday, extending their unbeaten start to the season with an excellent 8-1 win away to Glasgow University’s third XI.

Helensburgh went into the game at Garscube with the advantage of having beaten the Glasgow students 5-3 in an exciting fixture just a few weeks previously and looking to build on their fine early season form which had seen them undefeated in their opening seven matches.

But the on-form Burgh team were hit by an early shock when Glasgow Uni pressed their visitors hard early on, managing to nick the ball off Heywood at the back before rifling an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Craig Keith and into the net.

Helensburgh, however, refused to let the loss of the opening goal put them off their rhythm, and in truth the visitors looked comfortable in possession throughout.

Burgh pulled themselves level when Barry Cox pushed in a penalty corner for leading scorer Jonathan Cox to convert the equaliser, and it was soon two for both the visitors and Cox when he worked his way into some space inside the D before slotting home to put Helensburgh ahead.

Cox won an even greater reward for some excellent play up front when he completed his hat-trick before the break, slotting home Alan Stuart’s through ball to give the away side a 3-1 interval advantage.

But Helensburgh were in no mood to rest on their laurels in the second half: instead they simply ramped up the pressure on the home side, pressing the students back into their own half and adding another five goals to their tally.

A well-worked short corner routine involving Stuart and Gordon Black earned the visitors their fourth, Stuart the man on target, before a well-executed finish gave Cox his fourth goal and Helensburgh their fifth.

Black then joined in on the action, pushing in a penalty corner to four-goal hero Cox before running on to the return pass at the near post to add number six with a simple finish.

Barry Cox added to his tally with a bullet of a shot late in the game to make it 7-1 to Helensburgh.

And there was still time for Helensburgh to rub salt into the home side’s wounds: in the dying moments, and with Glasgow Uni on the attack in the hunt for a late consolation goal, the visitors staged a superb counter-attack, with Stuart and the two Coxes combining well before setting up Gavin McKenzie to slot home goal number eight.

Saturday’s win sees Helensburgh open up a five-point advantage at the top of West District Division 2 ahead of the third XIs of both Kelburne and Western Wildcats – an excellent start to the campaign for a Burgh team who might have expected to take more time to adjust to playing hockey at a higher level after winning promotion at the end of the 2017-18 season.

Team: C. Keith, G. McWilliam (capt.), D. McGregor, R. Heywood, G. Caulfield, G. MacKenzie (1), I. Bowyer, A. Stuart (1), B. Kennedy, G. Black (1), J. Cox (4) (MoM), B. Cox (1), A. Bowman.

Thanks to John Friel for umpiring.

Next week the team are at home to Ayr, with a 12.15pm push-back at Hermitage Academy.