Hockey: Chichester's fate goes to the final weekend
It was a big weekend for Chichester Hockey Club's first team in their bid to avoid the Conference East relegation play-offs. They beat Old Georgians - but lost to Oxted, taking their fate to the final game this weekend.
Chichester 3 Old Georgians 2
Chichester began a double-header weekend with a vital victory over Old Georgians.
In blizzard-like conditions the home side took time to warm up and found themselves on the back foot inviting pressure.
Keeper Maciej Pacanowski was forced into some cute saves to keep the scores level until his side began to find some momentum.
The deadlock was finally broken just before half-time when Alex Pendle worked his way down the Old Georgians baseline and expertly found Alex Baxter, who smashed home from close range.
The second half began with Chichester now on the front foot. A textbook counter-attacking move released Jack Lerwill, who charged through the midfield, shrugging off any attempt to dispossess him. Lerwill neatly tucked the ball under his shoulder for Alex Thakore to bundle home.
Old Georgians pulled one back with 15 minutes to go after a dubious penalty decision but their fightback was shortlived as Alex Holten delivered a floater across the D which Jamie Whitehouse was only too happy to slide on to and emphatically finish to make it 3-1.
Old Georgians stuck again but it was a case of too little too late.
Chichester stalwart Neil Pendle entered the fray to steady the ship, but was given his marching orders soon after. The back four of Dan Brook, Matt Sewell, Kieran Henn and Thakore were boosted by the return of Jason Collins and held firm until the final whistle to secure a vital three points for Chichester.
Chichester 2 Oxted 3
Chichester’s second game in as many days only went ahead after club volunteers spent the early hours of Sunday removing the snow that had settled on the pitch overnight.
With Chichester riding high after their performance the day before, they were looking to do the double over Oxted, who had only lost twice all season and would clinch the title with a win.
Chichester started slowly, giving away possession and conceding a number of early short corners. Dan Brook had to leave the field with a head injury after being on the receiving end of some friendly fire from Luke Emmett, giving youngster Josh Brown his chance to impress.
Chichester had a mountain to climb after going two down inside the first five minutes. The home side were rewarded with a string of penalty corners, one of which was deflected in by Ollie Baxter to the delight of the crowd.
The second half saw Chichester growing in confidence and testing the Oxted defence. Alex Sparshott proved a real handful down the right as he skipped past numerous opponents and was rewarded with a well-taken reverse stick strike under the keeper.
Oxted threw everything at Chichester but Alex Pendle must have thought he won it only to see his drag flick cleared off the line with the game entering the final ten minutes.
Emmett received a yellow card as he and the rest of the midfield fought to repel Oxted’s advances. With a point looking like a fair result, disaster struck as Oxted capitalised on a tiring Chichester side to score a far-post tap-in with three minutes left.
Chichester travel to high-flying Brighton this weekend for their final league game, needing a result to avoid play-offs, but will take confidence from two decent performances.
The team thanked all members of the club that made Sunday’s game possible and came to support in the freezing conditions throughout the weekend.
Chichester Ladies 2nds 2 Crowborough 0
Chichester ladies’ seconds overcame Crowborough at Kingsham.
The game was certainly the chilliest of the season to date and players spent the entire 70 minutes battling against the snow.
It began well with an early goal from Lindsay Hauxwell, a fantastic strike from the top of the D.
Chichester continued to apply pressure to the opposition leaving Crowborough with very few opportunities to get into their attacking half.
A succession of short corners against Crowborough gave Chichester the opportunity to go 2-0 up with Alex Hurd securing the second.
The last five minutes of the first half proved a struggle for Chichester and a short corner was conceded. After several unsuccessful attempts from the defence at clearing the ball a penalty flick was awarded to Crowborough.
With the pressure on, keeper Claire Young made a fantastic save to keep Crowborough goalless going into the second half.
The second half saw excellent hockey from both teams. Chichester had lots of opportunities for shots on goal but these were saved by Crowborough’s keeper or blocked by the defence.
Both teams battled through the blizzard but it ended 2-0 in Chichester’s favour.
Chi ladies: Parrott, Greenway, Hurd, Dale, Jessop, Woods, Young, Oliver-Catt, Trent, Hauxwell, Stemp.