DEAN Birrell wants Oxford City Stars to bounce back after a double defeat on the first weekend of the NIHL Division One South season.

The head coach described his side’s 6-3 loss at reigning champions Streatham Redhawks and the 4-2 home reverse to Slough Jets as an ‘eye-opener’.

Stars were missing three key players but took the match to Streatham and went 3-1 in front, only for the hosts to edge ahead in the final period to take the points.

On Sunday, they won the first period against Slough 2-1, but failed to capitalise on the lead.

Both matches were closely fought and the Stars coach is taking the positives forward.

Head coach Birrell said: “We’re building here and it is still early stages for us. But the weekend was an eye-opener.

“It’s clear the league is highly competitive and a lot of clubs will be in the mix.

“We gave Streatham a real game and run them close, but in both fixtures, we ultimately lacked a bit of firepower.

“That’s something we need to work on.

“The squad is still gelling and there are many positives to work with as a club.

“We’re now looking forward to another double header weekend and the opportunity to put some points on the board.”

Joe Edwards, Jake Williams, Dan Williams and Aiden McGurk all missed the trip to Streatham, with Will Birch and James Eldridge coming in.

It took just 71 seconds for Stars to go ahead, Theo Bundock setting up Eden Parish for the perfect start.

Streatham equalised after four minutes, but Matt Lawday restored the lead and the visitors reached the end of the first period 2-1 up.

Eldridge added a third after the restart and it looked as though they would reach the next interval with their advantage intact.

Streatham halved the deficit 35 seconds before the end of the period, though, and they showed why they were champions in the closing stages.

They struck four times in the final 20 minutes to seal victory, condemning Stars to a losing start.

The Oxpens-based side were back at home the next day and again began well against Slough.

It was a similar first period to the previous day’s game, as Dan Williams and Bundock scored to go 2-1 up after the visitors had taken the lead.

That was as good as it got, as Slough turned the tables with two unanswered goals before the next break.

The teams swapped ends halfway through the third period due to the lighting at Oxpens, but Stars could not make the most.

The visitors dominated and added a further strike to win 4-2.

Stars visit Slough on Saturday and host MK Thunder 24 hours later, with a 6.15pm face off.