South Premier Division 1
Lewes Mens 1st Xi 1 (Cooke. B)
Havant Mens 1st Xi 4
Lewes’ Division One status hangs by a thin thread after this defeat. With three, possibly four clubs getting relegated, depending on who comes down from the National Conference leagues, Lewes are second to bottom four points behind Oxford University and five points behind Henley who have a game in hand. Lewes have still to play both of these sides.
Defeat against second place Havant was not a surprise and you could not criticise the hosts for the effort and energy they showed throughout. The difference between the two was in taking goal scoring opportunities and keeping your discipline at crucial times in the match.
The opening exchanges were even and you would have been hard pushed to know Lewes were striving to avoid relegation. Lewes were without top goal scorer Alex Baxter with a hamstring injury which restricted their attacking lineup. Lead by captain Matt Clark, who worked tirelessly in midfield, they almost opened the scoring after a break down the right but the cross found empty space with no one able to convert. Then with twenty five minutes gone Lewes lost possession in midfield and a quick release into the right channel saw an unmarked Havant forward drive into the circle and release a powerful shot through Josh Pewter’s legs for the crucial opening goal. Lewes had an opportunity to respond from a penalty corner but the push out was not stopped and the chance was gone. Just before half time Havant broke from defence and an aerial ball was controlled on the right as the hosts’ defence floundered and a powerful run and flick into the roof of the net from an acute angle made it 2-0.
Lewes needed something to get back into the match but conceded in the opening minutes of the second half. Again a dribble from the right wing and a simple strike from close range made it 3-0. To their credit Lewes did respond. Another Lewes penalty corner saw Harvey Waller’s effort blocked but young forward Jonny Rea unsettled the Havant defenders with some good running and chasing down and Lewes began to enjoy some good possession in midfield. Rea then found the byline after an interchange of passes and crossed for Ben Cooke to convert at the far post with fifteen minutes remaining to make it 3-1. Lewes continued to push forward and were unlucky when a skilful run by Chris Spruce and cross found Cooke diving in again at the far post but his shot hit the inside of the post and bounced out. In the final minutes Lewes were exposed at the back and despite some good saves by Pewter finally an aerial ball found an unmarked Havant forward one on one with Pewter and he calmly made it 4-1.
Lewes are away to Oxford University on Saturday in what is simply a must win match. Defeat and they will be relegated. Baxter is hopeful of being fit which should give Lewes more attacking options.
Sussex Division 2
Lewes Mens 3rd Xi 1 (Daren Chu)
Lewes Mens 4th Xi 0
The battle of two Lewes sides in the same division saw a hard fought and feisty match at the Southdown Club. Before Christmas the 4th’s had grabbed a last minute equaliser and the 3rd’s were out to avenge this result. It was end to end during the goalless first half without much quality but the 3rd’s youngsters Drew Wain, James Cook and Sam Webster and the experienced Richard Pulley stood out in the frantic exchanges.
The first goal was always going to be crucial and the 3rd’s got it midway through the second half from a penalty corner when Daren Chu deflected in a strike from close range. The 4’s responded with Andy Green unluckily hitting a post and Harry Heitman just wide with a shot but the 3’s deservedly grabbed the points and the bragging rights in the clubhouse after.
Sussex Ladies Division 2
Chichester Priory Park 3s 0
Lewes Ladies 4s 1 (Leatherland)
Scores on the doors for the fours – one nil
Ladies move up into 6th place after a well-earned win at Chichester
Lewes were determined to show their side lined Captain that they still had the magic – and they didn’t disappoint this week. The ladies in green kept excellent shape and poise in a game where they didn’t have the majority of possession. The defence covered their players and delivered useful balls out to the wings from the back. The mids in turn played some lovely triangular hockey to push play to their advantage. Their goal came from a team effort from midfield to Mary Harley on the right wing, who created the diagonal strike enabling forward Sara Leatherland to tap it in on the left post.
The health conscious ladies reminded themselves that their bodies are temples and tucked into celebratory tea and cake at John Lewis after the match.