Hockey: Familiar story as Chichester lift Sussex Cup

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Chichester have won the Sussex Cup for the seventh time in ten years.

They and Brighton travelled to East Grinstead for this year’s first-team final.

Both teams have had a good season with Brighton winning the league to enter the national league next season and Chichester finishing third.

Chichester were unbeaten in 15 matches and had the league’s top goalscorer in Martin Gough and the best defensive record in the league. Brighton were slight favourites having won the league, but honours were even in terms of head-to-heads this year.

Chichester dominated the opening five minutes and were close to a goal in the opening minutes when the ball fell to Jack Lerwill, who was denied by a fine save from the Brighton keeper.

The Chichester forwards - Andrew Sparshott, Martin Gough and Oli Robinson - pressed the Brighton defence and forced errors from the Brighton back-line but Chichester were unable to make the most of their early pressure.

Brighton took the lead with their first attack: a quick break lead to a Brighton forward beating Chichester keeper Dan Godsmark and the ball bounced off the covering Kieran Henn’s stick into his body, resulting in a penalty flick which was comfortably converted.

Chichester lost their way for the rest of the half and would have been two down but for a fantastic save from Godsmark and clean-up play from Jason Collins.

They came out for the second half looking refreshed and the forwards once again pressurised the Brighton defence and forced errors.

This resulted in Sparshott picking the ball up just inside the Brighton half, driving towards the D and flicking the ball to Lerwill on the right. He rounded the keeper and fired the ball into the goal from a tight angle.

Chichester’s momentum grew and three minutes later it was 2-1 as a diving interception from captain Richard Blakesley saw Gough pick the ball up and fire a pass to Sparshott, who deflected the ball into the goal.

Blakesley made it 3-1 when his reverse-stick shot found its way into the bottom corner.

Chichester had turned the tie on its head within ten minutes.

Brighton lacked urgency and Chichester repelled any attacking moves through fantastic defending from player-coach Jason Collins, Luke Matthews, Henn and Dan Brook.

A strange umpiring decision led to Blakesley receiving a yellow card late on and, with Chichester down to ten, Brighton pulled one back to make it a nervy last five minutes.

Another unfortunate decision led to a penalty corner being awarded, which proved to be the final play, and Godsmark, Henn, Matthews, Spear and Collins ensured extra time was not needed.

Team picture: back from left, Dan Godsmark (GK), Mark Pacey (Team Manager), Steve Spear, Luke Matthews, Alex Thakore, Jack Lerwill (VC), Alex Holton, Dan Brook, Oli Robinson, Andrew Sparshott; front, Jason Collins (Player Coach), Martin Gough, Richard Blakesley (C), Beejay Ranger, Alex Baxter, Kieran Henn, James Ellis.