A young woman was left traumatised after being attacked as she walked along June Meadows in Midhurst late on Friday night (March 19).
A police spokesman said it was a 'terrifying' attack which could have been far worse if the woman had not been able to lash out at the man with her handbag and escape.
Police spent Saturday and Sunday (March 20 and 21) making door-to-door inquiries in the June Lane and June Meadows area of Midhurst and are appealing for witnesses and information.
The assault took place about 11.30pm as the 22-year-old woman walked along June Lane.
The spokesman said: "She became aware of a man behind her. She stopped and turned to face him before walking away more quickly, which the man also did."
He caught up with the victim while she was in June Meadows, grabbing her by the arm and swinging her around before trying to pull her towards a ditch.
"She fell into the mud but the man pulled her up and tried to grab at her clothing before she managed to hit him with her handbag and escape," said the spokesman.
Detective Sergeant Sally Arbuckle from Chichester CID said: "This was a terrifying attack which could have been far more serious had the victim not managed to break free.
"Understandably she is traumatised by what happened and we are very anxious to hear from anyone who may have witnessed something in the area at the time.
"We are particulary interested to hear from the person sitting in a silver car parked in a lay-by in June Meadows at the time."
The man is described as white, aged in his late 20s to early 30s and over 6ft tall.
He wore black or dark trousers or jeans, black footwear with yellow around the sole and toe area, a black hat with 'Liverpool' in red across the forehead and black cotton gloves.
"Because of the detailed desciption of the clothing we are hoping someone will recognise this person and come forward," said DS Arbuckle.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 60 70 999, quoting serial 2246 of 19 March. Alternatively, please call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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