South Premier League
Lewes 1 (Clark)
With five matches left Lewes are clinging to their Premier League status after a narrow defeat at the Southdown Club. After a good win at bottom of the table Staines the previous week Lewes had high hopes of continuing this form but Banbury proved a determined and hard side to beat.
You could not have asked for more effort from the hosts – in a tight match they at least deserved to share the spoils – but when you are at the bottom of the table little appears to go for you. The early exchanges saw Lewes defending well against mid table Banbury’s attacks. They grew in confidence and forced successive penalty corners which were cleared and then Banbury broke and their quick forward evaded a loose defensive tackle and drove into the circle and converted with a powerful reverse stick strike after twenty minutes. Within five minutes Banbury’s lead had doubled as their forwards’ speed exposed Lewes’s lack of pace in defence and a clinical break and one two saw a simple chance converted from close range to make it 2-0 at half time.
The next goal was going to be crucial to the outcome of this match and Lewes dominated the majority of possession in the second half with skipper Matt Clark leading from mid-field. They pressurised the Banbury defence and created opportunities with James Fuller and Alex Baxter prominent in attack. Clark was just wide from close range and then Chris Spruce half volleyed into the side netting from close range after a melee in the Banbury circle.
Banbury resorted to some heavy tackles under this pressure and deservedly found themselves down to nine men with two yellow cards – but they defended well in numbers and frustrated the hosts. Successive penalty corners came to nothing for Lewes but just as it appeared they were running out of time a powerful low Alex Lloyd flick from a penalty corner was only half saved by the goalkeeper and an alert Clark converted the rebound from close range with ten minutes left to make it 2-1.
Lewes pushed up trying to earn a draw but it was Banbury who had opportunities to put the match beyond Lewes as they broke but goalkeeper Josh Pewter made successive saves to keep Lewes in the match. A vocal home crowd drove Lewes forward in the final minutes and they forced a penalty corner in overtime but a well worked routine saw Harvey Waller’s flick go agonisingly just past the post and an important point eluded Lewes.
Lewes face leaders Old Georgians away on Saturday when they will hope to upset the form book as they will not be expected to get anything from this match before the final four matches of the league season which will dictate the outcome of their season.
EH Women’s Trophy
Lewes Ladies 1s 3 (Lewes won 4-1 on penalty flicks)
Teddington Ladies 1s 3
Having dispatched Newent 2-0 in the previous round of the EH Women’s Trophy, Lewes Ladies 1’s made the slightly shorter trip to Teddington HC for another away match. Teddington are the oldest hockey club in the world, so have had longer to prepare for this match than the Lewes ladies.
With the Teddington Ladies 1’s team playing a league above Lewes, Coach Hugo Youngman and his team knew they would have their work cut out to gain the upper hand in this match. With a large home crowd watching and 3 intrepid Lewes supporters doing their best to drown them out, the Teddy bears looked like they meant business from the push-back.
Teddington put immediate pressure on the mid-field and earned an early short corner and a well-placed drag-flick put Teddington in to a 1-0 lead. More pressure followed and the Lewes defence, comprising Sarah Hall, Kerry Fitzpatrick, Carly Wise and Gabster Rudrum had to repel a number of strong Teddington attacks. In fact Lewes were having to fight extremely hard just to gain possession of the ball and were living off scraps. However, a great interception by Leigh Chivers in mid-field fed the ball forward where Anna Hilton’s predatory instincts finished off the move with a beautifully taken goal. 1-1 after 15 mins.
Stung by this equaliser, Teddington upped their work rate and won another short corner. Although, the short corner routine went wrong this time, they fed the ball back into the Lewes D and managed to slide the ball passed Carla Leach, in the Lewes goal. The match was pulsating to watch and the action went from one end to the other with both teams resolutely preventing any further goals and the first half finished with Teddington 2-1 up.
Whatever Hugo Youngman said to the team at half-time worked, because the Lewes Ladies started the second half like greyhounds following the hare. With Teddington pushing the ball high into the Lewes half from the re-start and trying to press Lewes into a mistake, Carly Wise cleverly released the ball to Emma Pavitt who linked up well with new player Emily Robinson and Lewes started to gain more control of the mid-field and it wasn’t long before the Lewes ladies equalised with a lovely finish from the unstoppable Kerry Fitzpatrick.
Lewes now looked the stronger team and it wasn’t long before they scored again through youngster Katinka Morris to put Lewes in the lead 3-2. The umpires started to get fairly animated at this point in the game and the slightest infraction seemed to result in flurry of green cards. Lewes lost 2 players to greens and Teddington also got a green with both sides also losing players to yellow cards late on. Teddington fought hard again to get the equalizer and after sustained pressure managed to slot another goal to leave the final score 3-3. Penalty-flicks beckoned and having lost out to Brighton Ladies 1’s a few weeks ago on P-Flicks, would Lewes be able to handle the pressure? Leigh Chivers stepped up and flicked the ball, which just slid under the Teddington keeper and crossed the line to put Lewes 1-0 up. Tedington levelled the score 1-1 with a well taken flick. Sarah Hall then stepped up and the Teddington keeper had no chance 2-1. Carla Leach then saved the next 3 Teddington flicks, whilst Marie Spence and Kerry Fitzpatrick calmly slotted their flicks in to the Teddington goal to seal a fantastic win which not only put them into the semi-final of the Trophy, but also proved that they can compete with teams from the league above, which will hopefully, stand them in good stead for next season’s promotion battle.
The reward for a great win is yet another away draw, this time against Harrogate on the 20th March. Thanks to the stoic Lewes supporters for making the trip and drowning out the Teddy Bear’s support and well done to the Lewes Ladies for a great win.
Sussex Division 2
Lewes 4th XI 4 (Calff, Marchant, Spruce 2)
South Saxons 2nd XI 2
Lewes moved up to fifth in the league with this well deserved victory. They went behind in the opening minute when a disputed penalty corner was converted by Saxons but responded when Chris Marchant converted their own penalty corner and then Oli Calff scored from a penalty stroke after fifteen minutes. Just on half time Lewes increased their lead when Andy Green’s accurate pass was deftly deflected into the goal by Paul Spruce from close range.
Although the hosts dominated early in the second half they failed to convert their chances and Saxons got back into the match scoring from a penalty corner midway through to make it 3-2. Lewes finally made the game safe with ten minutes remaining when Green was the provider again and his cross was converted by Spruce to earn victory.