Sussex Men’s Div 1
Lewes 2s 2 (Daniels, Rideout)
We’re into lambing season in Sussex and, as befits a team with good representation from the agriculture sector, the Lewes 2’s squad is bursting forth with a new lease of life. Lewes men’s 2s kept their division 1 hopes alive with a hard-fought victory against Middleton 1s.
This was a must win game. And the bookies might have been forgiven for making Middleton 3-1 favourites. Mostly because the away game, dubbed “cardgate” by club jokers, was a 5-1 drubbing, in which Lewes struggled to keep 11 men on the pitch and were at one point down to 7. Which is further proof that when someone from the older generation gets misty-eyed about the “good old days” you can look them square on and say “Pipe down Grandpa. You’re talking tosh. I remember them so called old days. And they were rubbish”
But let’s snap back to the present. And a warm, sunlit Southdown club. Full of the promise of spring. And perhaps victory for the boys in green?
With decent support, Lewes got cracking from the offset, playing some of their best hockey of the season in the opening 20 minutes. The team was set up nicely from the back with Wood and Whiting well in control of Middleton’s pace and movement. The opposition may have been moving well but Lewes’ attack looked more threatening. Rideout and Rae (S) looked threatening and were judging their runs well. Bentley, Thomas and Clinch looked well in control of the midfield. Lewes pressure looked set to pay off. Rae (J) and Wain working off each other well to set-up a series of decent chances that should have been put away. But that’s not the Lewes 2s way. Why make it easy?
A slight sense of foreboding crept into the ground. Some last ditch tackles at the back were needed as Middleton’s attack pressed, eventually drawing a couple of smart saves from Bullmore – including one balletic dive which, if not entirely necessary did the job, and would have had Darcy Bussell salivating. Lewes responded well to this pressure and won a series of short corners, but weren’t quite able to convert.
However Lewes went into the second period knowing they’d edged the first and, if they continued to create chances, one would be put away. Sure enough, with the sun beating down, Blackwell and Clinch’s persistent pestering of the Middleton midfield paid off, and with the pressure applied, Lewes finally hit the backboard with a well taken Daniels goal, nicely set-up by one of Rae’s trademark mazey runs.
But Middleton bit back. And almost converted one of their 3 penalty corner attempts of the half, only to be denied by a lovely Whiting take off the line. Seconds late they threatened again, only to be denied by Bullmore’s box.
It was getting hot, and Lewes’ possession was starting to take it’s toll on a Middleton side forced to chase the ball. With space opening up all over the pitch it was Rideout who stepped up, twisted his opposite number and settled Lewes’ nerves with a second goal.
The home support were jubilant. Middleton didn’t really threaten again. Lewes emerged well deserved victors. And even if the post-match voting was of such a low calibre (the guest appearance from the umpires being the highlight) the team can take heart from a gutsy performance.
Sussex Men’s Div 2
Lewes 3s 0
With a large home crowd, the sun shining and buoyed by a strong team performance last week, the 3’s were optimistic of their chances for this re-scheduled Worthing game.
A strong start for both teams was a relief for Lewes, with some solid defence required from the defensive duo of Picken and Fewster at times. Lewes regularly opened up the Worthing mid field but few real attacking opportunities were presented for George ‘Goal scorer’ Martin. One Lewes short corner in the first half was denied by the Worthing Keeper.
The half time objectives were clear – win the game and keep the ball. The team needed to refresh and focus on: ball speed, communication and commitment. Lewes again started strongly and it really was anyone’s game. Two Lewes short corners early in the second half made the win look promising, and, despite a narrow miss off the post for a O. Loader deflection on a challenging bouncing ball, the scoreline remained at 0-0. The last 20 minutes saw a fitter Worthing team have the slight edge with a plethora of short corners expertly being kept out by C. Palmer and the defence in the goal. Man of the match performance was awarded to Palmer after a short corner breakdown resulted in a Worthing flick. Calmly and casually Palmer dismissed this threat to keep the score 0-0, much to the delight of the home crowd!
With three minutes to go a fast paced Worthing attack resulted in a wonder goal from the top of the D. Lewes tried to mount a counter attack but the clock quickly ran down. Final score Worthing 1 – Lewes 0.
A great game to end the season, demonstrating how far the team has progressed since October. Vice Captain Martin said at the end of the game “This game sums up the season, some great play at times, strong defence and a lack of ability to convert our chances” the mystery remains if he is talking about the 3’s hockey or his love life…
Sussex Mens Division 3
Eastbourne 4th Xi 3
Lewes 4th Xi 6 (Coplestone (2), Spruce (2), Stonley, Debice)
Lewes did everything they had to by winning their final game on the Saffrons but Chichester’s victory over Mid-Sussex saw them take the title with a game in hand leaving Lewes in second place.
Lewes outplayed a youthful host side but for long periods the result was in doubt until the second half. Lewes took the lead when Paul Spruce deflected in Martyn Stillman’s powerful reverse stick strike after ten minutes for the teams 100th goal of the season and when Dax Debice converted a penalty corner five minutes later it looked like it could be a comfortable victory. Eastbourne had other ideas though and one of their experienced midfielders scored a brilliantly taken solo goal then set up the equaliser in a two minute period to leave the scores level. Lewes reasserted their authority and James Coplestone converted after good work by Danny Poulsen and Alex Pewter to make it 3-2 and Spruce added a fourth just on half time to make it 4-2.
The first goal of the second half was going to be crucial and despite early pressure from Lewes it took good defending by Bill Short, Mark Tonkin and Simon Forster, as Lewes gave away possession too easily, to prevent a goal for Eastbourne. Midway through finally Coplestone set up Adam Stonley from close range and then Coplestone got his second and Lewes’s sixth after a skilful dribble. Eastbourne grabbed a final consolation in the closing minutes from a penalty corner.
A good season for Lewes who pushed Chichester all the way. A summer break and then it will be all go again in late September. If they can keep the majority of the squad together and strengthen in some areas they might be able to go one better next season.