South Premier Div 1
Oxford University 2
Lewes 4 (Clark, Spruce, Baxter 2)
Lewes refuse to go down without a fight
As the national league program drew to a conclusion this weekend it was confirmed 3 teams would be relegated from South Prem. A 4th team could also drop dependant on the outcome of relegation playoffs.
When Lewes arrived at Iffley Road on Saturday, they knew the 70 minutes ahead of them would be their final chance of keeping their season alive. Lewes – 2nd bottom, faced an Oxford Uni side 4 points above them, with 3 games to go.
They took a squad of 15 and welcomed back top scorer Alex Baxter after a week absence through a hamstring injury. Jo Piller also returned to the squad.
The opening exchanges were tense, with neither team pressing too highly up the field. Ben Cooke and Chris Spruce were a threat for the away side, where the University utilised long aerials behind the back line, the second attempt forcing a smart double save from goalkeeper Josh Pewter.
Patience in the final third was a point cemented by coach Stu Goodman. A free hit was beautifully executed into the D by Harvey Waller, Matt Clark made no mistake to make it 1-0.
This lead was however short lived. Matt Rickson conceded a corner for not retreating 5 and was also shown a yellow. The resulting corner was saved by Pewter only for the rebound to be turned in.
The game went into half time all square. After the break Oxford started to compound the defence, however James Callaway alongside Tom Stratford held strong. It was the counter-attacking prowess that helped Lewes regain the lead. Alex Baxter held the ball up in the final third and struck a ball wide of goal that was tipped in by the onrushing Chris Spruce. This 2-1 lead was nullified yet again however and in similar circumstance, short corner saved by Pewter and the rebound smoothly finished on the post.
Lewes knew that a draw was no good and they started to apply the pressure in the closing stages. Jimmy Fuller was a handful yet again and he caused no end of problems. It was Baxter that found the way through though, scoring his 16th of the season. He soon added his 17th from the penalty spot after a ball was stopped by the body of the Oxford Blues defender.
At 4-2, it was all about character and digging deep to see out the closing stages. Jo Piller remained a cool customer at the back, and the added legs of Mark Best, Alex Lloyd and Jonny Rea ensured Lewes remained a tight unit in their defensive duties. It finished 4-2 and with fortunate defeat by Henley (2 places above) Lewes are now just 2 points from potential safety with 2 games to go. Lewes will face Henley on the final game of the season.
Before that though they face a tough test against Milton Keynes at the Southdown, 1:30pm. Support greatly appreciated. It will be another must win, but the boys in green will take a lot of pride and confidence from this victory.
Lewes Veterans Qualify For Sussex Cup Final
Lewes made it to their fourth successive County Cup final by winning their Pool on Sunday at the Southdown Club. The hosts, South Saxons and Worthing were the three sides competing for a place in the final with matches of two twenty minute halves.
Lewes played the strong Worthing side first and struggled for a while before, from Andy Green’s pass, Paul Spruce fed Martyn Stillman who ran on, rounded the goalkeeper and scored with a skilful reverse stick strike. This lead was doubled from a penalty corner when Will Champness slipped the ball to Green who scored to make it 2-0. Lewes needed the crucial third goal in the second half but could not get it and Chris Marchant saw his powerful flick well saved by the goalkeeper. Successive penalty corners came to nothing and Worthing came back into the match and the hosts’ goalkeeper Chris Sharpe made some good saves as Lewes came under pressure. With five minutes left Worthing scored from a penalty corner and despite another penalty corner on the final whistle Lewes survived to win narrowly 2-1.
With a win against South Saxons guaranteeing them a place in the final Lewes started slowly after their earlier match and it took some good interceptions from defenders Chris Picken and Hugo Youngman to wake the side up. After ten minutes Champness and Green combined again from a penalty corner to open the scoring and then skipper Rob Heinzl, making a welcome return to the side after injury, set up Mike Fuller who struck home from the top of the circle to make it 2-0 at half time. Again the crucial third goal did not arrive early in the second half until finally Billy Smart started the move from halfway and Marchant finished well with an accurate flick to make it 3-0. Lewes could have made it four in the closing stages but Steve Fuller was denied when he volleyed a hard cross towards the top corner of the goal only for the Saxons goalkeeper to save well. The County finals will be over the weekend of 23/24 April at the Southdown Club.
Sussex Men’s Division 2
Lewes 4s 1(Picken)
Lewes 4th XI were well beaten by leaders Crowborough 7-1. With Lewes safe in the league they bloodied some youngsters up front who showed encouraging potential. Chris Picken got Lewes’ consolation goal.
Sussex Ladies Division 2
Lewes 4s 0
Middleton 1s 2
The Lewes ladies once again proved their metal in the last game of the season with a solid performance from the entire back line to keep the skillful Middleton to just 2 goals. The Black Knight of the week award went to Dionne ‘None shall pass’ Gooding who saved virtually everything Middleton smashed at her.