South Premier Men’s League Division 2
Oxford University 1st Xi 5
Lewes 1st Xi 1 (Roberts)
Lewes suffered their sixth successive defeat to leave them in ninth place and in danger of relegation at the Christmas break. The heady heights of fourth place in late October seem a long time ago.
They gave a good account of themselves for much of the game against a strong University side getting ready for the Varsity match in the new year and who are second in the league. In an even first half the hosts grabbed the lead from a penalty corner mid way through but Lewes were unlucky not to be level when they hit the crossbar from one of three successive penalty corners from a Matt Rickson flick just before halt time when they dominated possession. Missing normal penalty corner striker Toby Price saw Lewes have to change their normal routine.
In the second half Oxford stretched their lead early on before Lewes reduced the arrears with a well taken goal. Skipper Matt Clark, who led by example, threaded through a perfectly weighted pass to Dave Roberts who coolly struck the ball into the goal past the oncoming goalkeeper. With youngster Sam Heinzl enjoying his role in midfield and stretching the University defence it was against the run of play when they scored from another penalty corner midway through to make it 3-1. Lewes struggled to get back into the match and defensive lapses in the final ten minutes saw two further goals to go in to give a somewhat harsh scoreline although they could not have any complaints about the final result.
Lewes will have to regroup over the break but will have injured players Rory Jervis and Australian Grant Davey back available which will strengthen their squad. They will need to pick up points quickly in the new year to try and move away from the relegation zone.
South Ladies Div 3b
Lewes 1s 1 (Molloy)
Fareham 1s 1
Having conceded a fairly bizarre goal midway through the first half the ladies recovered to gain a well-deserved point against a well drilled Fareham side.
The last two meetings between the two sides had resulted in 4 and 5 goal defeats for the home side so to draw against these opponents was a credit to the side. That they achieved this was down to a collective effort with the defence and midfield defending stoically throughout. Although the opposition did have chances throughout the game Carla Leach was outstanding in goal. The centre pairing of Amy Wayne and Sarah Hall was steadfast and assisted by Anna George and Rosie Youngman.
In attack the team showed enough class to score and Laura Molloy drew the teams level midway through the second half with a fierce shot from the top of D. Both teams had chances to win the game as the teams tired toward the end. However a very positive result that bodes well for the second half of the season.
Sussex Men’s div 2
Littlehampton 1s 2
Lewes 3s 4 (Martin)
Saturday saw Lewes travel to Littlehampton looking to round off the first half of the season with 3 points against the bottom placed side in the league. The game was delayed slightly as the LH keeper was late in arriving. This didn’t distract Lewes though who quickly opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to two strikes from Martin. After this the home side settled down somewhat and were soon back in it as a deflected short corner left Palmer helpless in goal. 2-1. This acted as a wake up call to the men in green, and the two goal lead was soon restored when a sweet strike from a short corner by Martin made it 3-1. The score remained this way until half time, with the Lewes centre back pairing of Fewster and Green controlling play nicely, and Pulley and Matthews looking as dangerous as ever in the middle of the pitch.
The 2nd half carried on similar to how the first half ended, with Lewes looking to hit LH on the counter, but the home side also created a few more chances, mainly thanks to their experienced skipper. With 10 minutes left on the clock the home side scored a well worked goal to leave the Lewes nerves frayed. 3-2. The game should have been put to bed when Martin missed a golden chance to make it 4-2, and seconds later Dakin found himself on the back post but was just unable to convert Fewster’s pass. With 2 minutes to go, a smart interchange between Mathews and Martin down the right left the latter free on the top of the D, an invitation to shoot that wasn’t passed up and Lewes and Martin’s 4th of the day put the game to bed.
A great way to go into the Christmas break, and a special mention to Dakin on a fine Man of the Match display.
Sussex Men’s Division 3
Brighton 5th Xi 0
Lewes 4th Xi 2 (Spruce, Stillman)
Lewes stay second in the league with a close win over local rivals Brighton leaving them four points behind leaders Chichester with one more game before Christmas.
Although Brighton had more possession Lewes were more clinical with their finishing in a tight game. Midway through the first half Martyn Stillman released youngster Adam Stonley whose pinpoint cross from the right was converted from close range by Paul Spruce. Soon after a skilful run by Stillman left the hosts’ defence standing and he scored with a fierce shot from the top of the circle. Lewes thought they had a third just on half time from James Coplestone but it was disallowed by the umpire.
In the second half Lewes failed to capitalise on further chances with Coplestone just wide with an effort, Stonley striking the outside of the post and Billy Smart’s shot well saved by the Brighton goalkeeper. The hosts came back into it in the closing stages but experienced defender Will Champness and youngster Leon Keating were dominant in tackling and clearing any potential goal scoring threat.
Sussex men’s div 4
Lewes 5s 0
East Grinstead Saints 1
On Saturday Lewes 5s welcomed the East Grinstead Saints to the Southdown Club for a Division 4 top of the table clash. With a goal difference of +54, East Grinstead had won each of their 10 games and Lewes were only 3 points behind with the best defensive record of all Sussex leagues.
Lewes changed formation for the first time this season, paying too much respect to EG’s strike force and adding a Sweeper behind the defensive line. Richard Daniel played the role tremendously but the change resulted in the home-side defending too deep. Consequently EG camped out in the Lewes half winning numerous short corners that only came to nothing thanks to Tim Bullen’s pressure on the EG striker and another Man of The Match performance from Jon Cornish in the Lewes goal.
At the break the Visitors were frustrated and whilst Lewes were very happy with the 0-0 scoreline they knew a return to the usual 2-3-2-3 formation was needed to relieve the pressure.
In the second half the change saw an immediate effect with Lewes pushing forward and Dax Debice quickly netting first from close range although with EG arms raised, the umpires knew something was amiss and the goal was disallowed for an attacking infringement. With a host of experience and player pedigree East Grinstead played the better hockey but their game was never allowed to flow as the men in green scrapped, marked tightly and battled for every ball.
This determination to remain ‘hard to beat’ certainly frustrated the Visitors but conversely Lewes struggled to create their own chances and finally with only 4 minutes on the clock EG were awarded their 12th short corner. On this occasion the commendable ‘save everything’ performance from Jon Cornish was not enough and the routine was finished by a thundering strike from ex-Dutch International Bram Van Asselt – although both sides agreed he’d had more than enough practice by this stage! And so the game finished, with a deserved but close 1-0 win for East Grinstead.
Lewes remain in 2nd position travelling to Southwick this Saturday for the last game before the Christmas break.
Sussex Ladies Div 2
Lewes 4s 2 (Harley, Cunningham)
Mid Sussex 2s 5
Having lost their last 2 matches Lewes were looking for a win to take them out of the relegation zone.
It was tractors at the ready as the ladies lined up on the field at Falmer. The surrounding land looking as furrowed as Farmer Mould’s focussed brow. Could they do it? Could they lift themselves out of the danger zone?
Some of the younger, less confident Mid Sussex players seemed to lull the Lewes defence into a false sense of security and they then were surprised by the ability of their mid field play maker, who created the visitors’ first 2 goals in the first half.
Lewes re-grouped at the half time break and decided to make a tactical change and play Darcy ‘Get arf my land’ Gallagher as a man marker – and she did brilliantly – following her mark like a Border Collie after a lost sheep.
Then, after ten minutes, Sara ‘Crop duster’ Leatherland went on a mazy run down the left wing, ploughing through defenders left, right and centre. She found herself at the top of the D and struck cleanly, finding Mary ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ Harley on the post to tap in the finish.
Lewes’ second goal came from a similarly styled attack this time by Farmer Mould who made no mistake with her shot that went through the keeper’s legs. However, when Middies scored again at the thirty minute mark to make it 2-5 Lewes knew that they had run out of time to gain the advantage.
This was by no means an agricultural performance as the Lewes ladies are showing week after week how they are growing as a team, with new players both young and old. The quality of their hockey is continuously improving and, if they continue to play like this, they will soon be harvesting the rewards.