South Premier Mens Division 2
Lewes 1st Xi 2 (Price, Clark)
Ashford 1st Xi 1
Lewes won a crucial relegation battle with fellow strugglers Ashford at the Southdown Club to leave them four points ahead of them and bottom side Holcombe but still three points from safety with the likelihood that four sides might go down. Lewes have also played more games than their rivals having not lost any matches to the weather in recent weeks.
In bitterly cold conditions with snow flurries throughout Lewes struggled to get any foothold in the first half. Too often passes went astray as Ashford settled the better. Only some strong tackling by defender Matt Rickson and good saves from goalkeeper Jack Edgerton kept it goalless in the opening fifteen minutes. Successive penalty corners were missed by Ashford and with ten minutes to go to half time another penalty corner was deflected round the post by the alert Tom Voller on the goal line as Lewes’s goal led a charmed life. But with five minutes remaining Ashford deservedly took the lead from their fifth penalty corner which went into the goal off a defenders stick running out. All Lewes had to show for a poor first half was one penalty corner which came to nothing.
Whatever was said at half time worked for the hosts. They were more determined and dominated midfield moving the ball around quicker and more accurately to stretch the Ashford defence. After ten minutes a well worked penalty corner routine saw Toby Price score from close range to equalise. Lewes did not have it all their own way and were twice caught upfield as Ashford broke away and but for some profligate finishing and more good saves from Edgerton could have been behind again. Both sides discipline let them down in the closing stages as poor tackles and frustration with Umpires decisions saw at one stage Ashford only having nine players on the pitch and Lewes ten due to temporary suspensions. It was Lewes that finally got the winner with ten minutes remaining when Rickson dribbled into the circle from the right and slipped the ball to skipper Matt Clark who scored with a thunderous reverse stick shot over the goalkeepers head into the roof of the net. Lewes could have added to this lead in the closing minutes as Rory Jervis played in Sam Heinzl whose shot was blocked on the goal line and a final penalty corner shot in overtime was then blocked.
Lewes will need another performance like the second half tomorrow on Saturday when they travel to fourth placed West Hampstead. They have six matches remaining, to get out of the probable relegation places.
Sussex Mens Division 3
Worthing 4th Xi 6
Lewes 4th Xi 2 (Coplestone, Stillman)
Lewes were well beaten by a strong Worthing side in cold conditions and slipped down to third place in the league.
In an even first half Lewes took the lead through James Coplestone after ten minutes from close range only to be pegged back by the hosts who led 2-1 before Martyn Stillman equalised just before half time. In the second half Lewes fell away under pressure from Worthing who scored four goals and deservedly won as the Lewes defence struggled to cope with the speed and direct play from their forwards.
Sussex Men’s div 2
Lewes 3s 1 (Sherwood)
Saturday saw Lewes host Crawley 2’s at the Southdown on a very fresh February afternoon. With plenty of new faces in the team and a desire to get back to winning ways Lewes opened with their best 10 minutes of hockey played this season. Crawley’s defence proved solid with end-to-end retaliation when the opportunity presented for both teams. Lewes scored first, a transfer across the top of the D, driven in by Bentley and Pulley resulting in a simple tap in for Sherwood (1-0). A much-improved Short Corner routine resulted in a near opportunity for Lewes. With Lewes pressing hard for another goal, Crawley broke the midfield and defensive line leaving a 1-on-1 with Goalie Billy Palmer. Crawley took their opportunity and equalised as they came to the end of the half.
The 2nd half carried on in a similar fashion, but Crawley had the majority of the play stretching the Lewes defensive prowess of Fewster, Green and Palmer. Two strongly defended short corners and yet another cracking save from Palmer kept the game equal. Creative midfield play and link up between Sanders, Matthews, Casselden, Pulley and Bentley found Reed at CF on a few occasions but no goals prevailed. Another quick break saw Crawley attacking in the Lewes D and with some confusion/expectation of a whistle due to players on the floor Crawley struck the backboard and crept into the lead (1 – 2). With 10 minutes to go Lewes worked 2 short corners and 3 attacking plays but the Crawley defence stood firm. Final score Lewes 1 Crawley 2.
Overall the game showed promise for a new looking Men’s 3s team and we hope to build on this for our battle in Hastings next weekend. Dunlop was awarded Player of the match with 6 others getting nominated – Green, Sanders, Fitch, Casselden, Palmer and Matthews – highlighting the industrious work rate throughout the game.