South Premier League Division 2
Lewes Mens 1st Xi 2 (Price 2)
Staines Mens 1st Xi 5
This result and performance summed up Lewes’ season. Staines were bottom of the table with only one win all season and the hosts were desperate for three points to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.
They started well encamped in the Staines half and deservedly took the lead after fifteen minutes when Toby Price converted a penalty corner with a low strike into the goal. They continued to dominate with Jonny Rea just unable to convert a cross when well placed in front of goal and then thought they had increased their lead when Matt Rickson’s reverse stick strike from another penalty corner bobbled over the goalkeeper and in. But the umpire disallowed the goal because he said the ball was above the backboard when it went over the goal line. Five minutes later Price’s fierce penalty corner flick struck a defender on the goal line in his facemask. Although unfortunate for the Staines defender who had to go off, Lewes were denied the penalty stroke that they felt they deserved and were instead awarded another penalty corner which came to nothing.
After these decisions Lewes simply imploded. With ten minutes to half time a cross shot from Staines from the byeline went into the goal off goalkeeper Ben Berrill’s pads and Staines could not believe they were level. It got worse minutes later when, after a scramble in the Lewes circle, a shot found its way into the empty goal and just on half time Staines’ second penalty corner was flicked into the corner of the goal to see Lewes 3-1 down at half time.
It was important that Lewes composed themselves in the second half but Staines defended deeply and broke quickly. After ten minutes a quick ball saw a Staines forward free at the top of the circle and Berrill rushed out only to be beaten by a fierce reverse stick strike. Skipper Matt Clark tried to impose himself in midfield and Callum Rudrum had a few skilful runs but Lewes could not find the quality to get back into the match. Staines rubbed salt into the wound with a fifth from close range and Lewes’s heads dropped. They grabbed a consolation in the last few minutes when Price converted another penalty corner. They remain tenth but now only two points ahead of the bottom two Ashford and Staines. Their final fixture before Christmas on Saturday is a tough one away at Oxford University.
Sussex Men’s division 2
Lewes 3s 4 (Martin 4)
A chilly Saturday morning saw Crawley 3s travel to Southdown for what turned out to be a cracking game of hockey. It was clear from the first minute who Crawley’s main man would be, their holding midfielder picking out a number of excellent early balls that cut the heart of the Lewes defence open, as well as being able to throw an aerial from one end of the pitch to the other. One of these attacks led to a penalty corner which was subsequently converted to give Crawley the lead.
Lewes knew something had to be done to control Crawley’s dominant playmaker, and a slight tactical change to put one of their wingers on him in a man to man marking role worked immediately as he became increasing frustrated and offered much less of a threat. Full credit must go to Oli Amos, Oli Loader, Sam Newman and Saunders who carried out this role with great discipline between them. Lewes were soon level as George Martin converted a penalty corner after a pin point injection from Loader. In the run up to half time things were pretty level, but a lapse in concentration meant Crawley were able to regain the lead just before the break. 2-1 Crawley.
After the break a slight mix up in communications meant Lewes played the first 5 minutes of the half with 10 men, but it mattered little as it was all the men in green in the early stages of the 2nd period. When the error was noticed and Alex Pewter was sent on to play right wing, Lewes were immediately rewarded as an excellent run and pass from the winger picked out Martin in the D who slapped home. 2-2. Soon after Lewes took a deserved lead as Martin slotted home from a tight angle. 3-2. After this Lewes rather switched off and 10 minutes later found themselves 4-3 down after a couple of scrappy goals that they were disappointed to concede. Heading into the last 10 minutes Lewes desperately surged forward in search of a deserved leveller and the pressure finally told as a penalty corner was smashed into the corner of the goal by Martin for his 4th of the day. This was not the end of the drama however, as Lewes were indebted to an excellent save by Billy Palmer right at the death.
A great game of hockey by both teams and a mention must go to Green who slotted in at centre back for the second half and showed excellent maturity in snuffing out most of the danger.
picture – scorer George Martin taking a strike at goal
Sussex Open Mens Division 3
Lewes Mens 4th Xi. 3.
East Grinstead Mens 4th Xi 1 (Coplestone 2, Heinzl)
Lewes went up to second in the league with this narrow win in a hard fought local derby with East Grinstead.
EG started better and it took some good covering and tackling by defenders Simon Forster, Mark Tonkin and Jack Troak to keep the score goalless. Lewes got into their stride and from their first penalty corner skipper Rob Heinzl’s hard strike put the hosts into lead. This was doubled when James Coplestone was first onto a loose ball to fire home despite protests from EG that the ball hit a foot.
In the second half the skilful youngsters from EG dominated possession and Lewes were put under pressure and despite goalkeeper Chris Sharpe’s solid clearances conceded when a penalty corner strike was not cleared and was scrambled into the goal to make it 2-1. Both sides lost players temporarily to green cards but Lewes grabbed their crucial third goal with ten minutes remaining when after a break down the right Coplestone scored his second with a chip into the top corner of the goal.
Sussex Men’s division 4
Brighton & Hove 6s 0
Lewes 5s 3 (Loader 2, Wain)
Another Steve Loader brace secured an emphatic victory over Brighton 6s at Blatchington as Lewes 5s secured their 9th win from 10 games.
This game between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in Division 4 is always a friendly and close affair and despite the final score, Saturday was no different.
The ‘Steve’ combination opened the scoring for the Visitors midway through the first half when Fuller struck the ball across the D and Loader cheekily used the crook of his stick to sweep the ball around his back and between the Goalkeeper’s open legs. Brighton threatened to equalise immediately firstly from open play, then a short corner and finally a long corner but each shot at goal was cleared by the Lewes ‘Keeper and Man of the Match, Jon Cornish and the half-time whistle blew with the home side trailing.
The second half began with Brighton again looking for an equaliser but the Lewes defence of Tim Bullen, Simon Murray and Dave Cooke stood solid. Lewes added a second after eight minutes from a short corner when none other than Steve Fuller feinted a shot and slipped the ball left to Loader who confidently struck the ball in to the bottom corner under the diving keeper.
Brighton continued to press high and were rewarded with numerous short corners none of which were converted as the pacy Tim Bullen blocked each strike at goal and every man in green defended their new mantra – ‘Hard to Beat’. As the clock entered the final ten minutes any faint hopes of a home-side comeback were extinguished by Malcolm Wain’s excellent reverse stick finish from close range.
Lewes trail East Grinstead by three points and welcome the leaders to the Southdown Club next Saturday morning.