Chichester’s hockey heroes halt Havant

Jack Lerwill, Kieran Henn (contesting the ball), Dan Brook and Alex Thakore / Picture by Neil Marshall
Jack Lerwill, Kieran Henn (contesting the ball), Dan Brook and Alex Thakore / Picture by Neil Marshall

It was a hectic weekend for Chichester’s men’s hockey first team - they lost a league game in Exeter despite a great battle, then beat neighbours and rivals Havant to reach the semi-finals of the national cup.

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University of Exeter 3 Chichester 4

Conference West

Chichester made the long journey to Exeter for a tough league game - and came home having just missed out on a famous fightback.

It was Chichester who conceded first to a well-worked Exeter attack. Chances came for both teams but Exeter controlled the game and found themselves increasing 3-0 up by the interval.

The second half saw a revitalised Chichester finally able to start dictating the game.

Established midfielders Thakore, Lerwill, Emmett and Cox drove forward with pace and linked with the goalscoring prowess of Gough, McCarthy, Sparshott and Baxter to create clear opportunities.

Against the run of play Exeter increased their lead.

Chichester players don’t often give up, and the club’s history of determination and will to win was visible here.

It wasn’t long before Chichester’s hard work was rewarded with an expertly-finished goal coming from the team’s goalscoring talisman Martin Gough.

The momentum of the game shifted and Gough’s initiative inspired a flurry of attacks with more hard work being rewarded at the hands of club stalwart Jack Lerwill leaving the scoreline 4-2 with 4 minutes left.

Chichester continued to apply pressure and create chances. With two minutes left Chichester were able to win a short corner, which Ben Palmer excellently converted to take the game to 4-3 with a minute left.

The Exeter bench and team were visibly worried, and with Chichester’s last ounce of energy they launched a final attack but were unable to get the goal to take the game to an arguably-justifiable draw.

Chichester realised the challenge they gave themselves by conceding so many early goals, but it was hard not to be impressed with the attitude of the players to fight until the very end, leaving the pitch exhausted.

It is this determination that gives them a fighting chance to survive in the national league.

CHI: Pacanowski, Brook, Henn, Sewell, Palmer, Emery, Cox, Thakore, Lerwill, Emmett, Sparshott, Gough, McCarthy, Baxter.

Chichester 3 Havant 1

Hockey Association Cup QF

Less than 24 hours after an exhausting defeat at the hands of University of Exeter, Chichester won an historic national cup quarter-final match against local rivals Havant.

With only ten miles separating them and a history of a high standard of hockey for both clubs, this game was destined to be a great spectacle and was hotly anticipated.

The game started with Chichester looking comfortable on and off the ball but as the first half continued, Havant began to get used to the pitch and settle, keeping possession well and threatening Chichester’s defence.

From the start, both teams were clearly suffering from fatigue from their games the previous day and it looked clear this was going to be a physical challenge to be won by the team who wanted it the most.

While Chichester were comfortable dictating the possession, they struggled to penetrate the Havant defence and it was the away team who took the lead with a well-worked short corner.

Havant’s confidence was lifted and they continued to threaten Chichester’s defensive ability, but the home team’s defensive line of Brook, Sewell, Henn and Palmer, supported by the returning former GB international Jason Collins, were happy to absorb the pressure and limit Havant’s scoring chances.

After a tough and physical first half, both teams were glad to hear the half-time whistle go to take a rest and discuss tactics.

The second half started with Havant keen to impose themselves on the game.

Chichester began to move from passive defensive tactics to increasing pressure on the away team. Spurred on by great club support, Chichester started to dominate possession and it wasn’t long before they were able to push through the fatigue and play the hockey they can.

A great interception from Brook and a fast break from Cox and Lerwill found Sparshott in space, the ball travelling 70 yards in a few seconds, finding McCarthy with just the keeper to beat.

Under pressure, McCarthy calmly lobbed the ball home to level the scoreline and spark a deafening cheer.

Chichester’s confidence grew and soon they were creating chances through build-up play and counter attacks, quickly giving McCarthy another good opportunity, with the in-form striker seizing his chance to put Chichester in the lead through a well-placed deflection.

Havant responded with a string of threatening open-play chances and short corners, at one point benefiting from five consecutive short-corner attempts, each of which was expertly read and dispatched by Chichester’s short-corner defence team led by star goalkeeper Maciej Pacanowski.

Chichester continued to apply pressure and increased the lead when Martin Gough seized on a loose ball in the opposition’s D and buried the ball in the back of Havant’s goal, raising thenoise levels once again.

The game finished 3-1 with both teams’ supporters appreciating having witnessed a great game of hockey played by two experienced, skillful and competitive teams.

Now, Chichester join City of Peterborough, Beeston and Surbiton in the semis. Chichester will travel to face premier league opponents Surbiton on March 20, equalling the best national cup progress the club have ever achieved.

Chichester have already beaten one premier-league team to get this far so make sure you save the date and go and support the team.

CHI: Pacanowski, Brook, Sewell, Henn, Palmer, Collins, Thakore, Lerwill, Cox, Emmett, Sparshott, L Gibbons, Gough, McCarthy, Baxter.

Chichester PP Ladies 2nds 3 Crawley 4

Leaders Crawley gave Chichester a tough game but won only by the odd goal.

It didn’t take long for the opposition to put pressure on the Chi defence and they soon had a penalty corner awarded.

Crawley had several attempts and eventually put the ball past Claire Young.

Chichester’s passing was a bit off the boil and handed Crawley another opening to make it 2-0.

The Chichester midfield were working very hard and stuck to the task, which led to the forwards having several chances.

The visitors managed to get a third. Chichester knew they had to step up their game and they did with Emma Ward and Jenna Greenaway stopping the slide and distributing the ball well.

With great interaction between Ward and Ju Doherty, the ball got into the Crawley circle where Ward scored her first goal for Chichester.

Chichester put more passes together and with Sarah Jessop playing well she slid a goal the past the Crawley keeper to make it 3-2 at half-time.

In the second half Chi played much better and were pressing hard at every opportunity into the opposition half.

Chi were awarded a penalty corner from which Ward scored her second of the match.

Crawley were resilient and managed to get a fourth, disappointing for the home side who not once gave up the chase and nearly got the equaliser but ran out of time.

CHI LADIES: Claire Young, Tracy Austin, Jenna Greenaway, Merryn Young, Emma Ward, Rachael Trent, Sarah Jessop, Harriet Gray, Ju Doherty, Jess Gleeson, Geogia Welch, Jenny Horton.

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