Sussex In2Hockey County finals
Sunday 26th February
Lewes under 10 boys crowned Sussex Club hockey champions
Boys through to regional finals after winning on nail-biting penalty shuffles.
The East Sussex side needed to be at their best against some of the county’s strongest sides – and a bitterly cold wind – at the tournament, played at Hurstpierpoint College on Sunday.
From the start, Lewes played with a confidence which stayed with them all afternoon. Robust defending, led by Toby Brown, Henry Oates and Edward Wheatley, ensured that Lewes never conceded a goal in open play. Free to attack, midfielders Josiah Wood and Rufus Hodgkinson repeatedly drove forward, taking the game to the opposition and linking up with Harry Walsh-Black and the other attackers.
Two draws and two victories saw the boys come second in their group. The highlight was a superbly worked team goal, finished off with a blast from Fred Withers, in the game against Horsham White.
In the semi-finals, Lewes overcame a strong Horsham Black side, winning on penalty shuffles after a nil-nil draw at full time.
The final saw a re-match with East Grinstead, a team they had shared a no-score draw with in the group stage. Both teams played exceptionally strong hockey and the game could have gone either way but ended goal-less at full time.
Lewes then faced their second penalty shuffle of the day. But with Sam Harrop in goal they had little to fear and Sam twice stopped East Grinstead scoring. Elliot Churton and Theo Hall both scored to secure Lewes’ victory and a place in the regional finals.
The boys have been growing in confidence in their 11 aside league and that showed as they played brilliantly – winning 4, drawing 1 and only losing 1 in their pool. They then lost to Horsham in the semi final and placed 4th out of 14 overall.
The U12s played well with 2 wins, a draw and 2 losses.
The U10s improved as they went along getting through to the semi finals where they played a hard fought match against East Grinstead which they lost. They then played Brighton in the playoffs and won on penalties giving them a 3rd place finish.
South Premier Men Division 2
Lewes 1st Xi 0
Winchester 1st Xi 6
Lewes’ premier league status hangs by a thread after a comprehensive defeat against second placed Winchester. Missing two defenders Lewes were always likely to struggle but were in the game for long periods until falling away badly in the second half.
The opening ten minutes saw Lewes dominate but not for the first time this season their failure to take clear cut chances cost them. Winchester were not able to cope with the hosts’ quick movement and Toby Price, despite carrying an injury, was unlucky to see his strike hit the crossbar and bounce out and then Jonny Rea hit the outside of the post when unmarked at the far post following a good pass from Rory Jervis. A penalty corner strike was then well saved by the goalkeeper as Lewes looked to open the scoring. The momentum then shifted as Winchester showed why they are pushing for promotion. They controlled midfield and their forward movement stretched the home defence. Eventually the pressure told as a poor clearance was picked up and a quick pass into the circle was converted into the Lewes goal. Lewes survived the remaining period of the first half with goalkeeper Jack Edgerton saving well on two occasions.
The second half started the same as the first with Lewes in the ascendency as Price had a shot well saved and then successive penalty corners coming to nothing. As soon as Winchester scored their second from a breakaway Lewes’ heads went down. They got frustrated with umpires decisions and had three players temporarily dismissed for dissent. This played into Winchester’s hands as they used the extra space to stretch the home defence and score three quick goals to make it 5-0. Jervis had a chance late on but could only lob the ball onto the top of the goal and then Winchester broke and in overtime converted a penalty corner to complete the scoring to rub salt into the wound.
The scoreline was harsh on Lewes who played well in periods but clinical finishing by Winchester and poor defending and discipline by Lewes contributed to a heavy defeat. They have four games left to try and stay in the Premier League and will need to probably win at least three to have any chance of survival as they have played more games than teams around them. They are away to Blackheath on Saturday, who are three places and six points above them.
Sussex Division 1
Eastbourne Men’s 3s 2
Lewes Men’s 2s 3 (Daniels, Tapping, Pewter)
A hard earned win against Eastbourne lifts Lewes
With an end of season relegation battle looming, Lewes Men’s 2s visited Eastbourne, keen to convert recent form into points. Coming from behind twice to snatch 3-points from a decent Eastbourne team provides proof that any spirit and goal-scoring ability the team may have lacked in the first half of the season is very much there.
Early exchanges on a tricky Eastbourne pitch showed that the sides were as evenly matched as the home fixture in November that Lewes won 3-2. Without that game’s hat trick hero, Pete Fuller, Lewes might have worried where goals were going to come from. And with good interplay from each sides’ midfield early on, the game again looked like it had a score in it. Both keepers were busy in the first half and a series of smart saves each end kept things level.
It was, however, Eastbourne who converted first – a nicely crafted attack after a Lewes defensive error, followed by a mis-trapped penalty corner flicked fast through Bullmore’s regretful legs.
Lewes kept working hard, and knowing that they’d come from behind in previous games, created a couple of close chances. But with a gusting wind behind them, and a few more D penetrations and penalty corners, Eastbourne might have been justified in feeling they deserved the half-time lead.
Re-energised by a spirited team talk (and Jelly Babies), Lewes bounced into the second half, knowing they’d been playing good hockey. With Thomas marshalling the defence, decent distribution from Cooke, Rideout and Blackwell, and some lovely mazey runs from Yeats, Rae, Devonport and Wain, Eastbourne were increasingly on the back foot. Martin looked threatening and was unlucky to pull a crisply taken shot wide.
Lewes haven’t always converted pressure into goals so it was with a cheer (and a sigh of relief from Bullmore) that the game was evened up when Daniels sent the Eastbourne keeper the wrong way with his penalty flick, earned from a well-worked penalty corner. Were the umpires influenced by Thomas’s howl of existential angst when the Eastbourne keeper kicked him to concede the flick? We’ll never know, but the performing arts’ loss is certainly Lewes’ gain. And actually it was a clear cut decision. 1-1. Game on.
The goal was the reward for more menace in their attacking play, but Lewes didn’t have time to kick-on. Eastbourne’s hard working midfield, led by their talented number 13, started to threaten again, quickly retaking the lead with a nicely placed flick, albeit from a dubious penalty corner.
Eastbourne, revitalised, redoubled their attacks in the following period, but Lewes’ defence held fast. Bullmore denying their 13 another sharp drag flick from a penalty corner. Rae, Rideout, and Thomas clearing the lines with crucial last ditch tackles.
Cards on both sides reflected a game getting lively. Eastbourne pushed hard. But Lewes 2s are more streetwise these days and quickly evened up the score when Tapping tipped in a finely placed, powerful pass from Daniels.
This critical goal was followed just minutes later by a fast transfer between Lewes’s defence and midfield, and a crafty, bobbling pass from Devonport, that “right place, right time” Pewter pounced on, and coolly slotted in. 3-2 Lewes.
With the game slipping from their grasp Eastbourne continued to attack but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances against a well-organised, tough and hard-working Lewes team. Lewes headed into the changing rooms with a well-earned victory, but credit should go to both teams for a hard-fought game played in good spirits, and with quality, attacking hockey.
The win means Lewes climb out of the relegation zone, and now look forward with relish to hosting relegation rivals Mid-Sussex next week. The away fixture, played in atrocious conditions, was a rather flaccid draw, reflecting Lewes’s previous lack of teeth. On Saturday’s performance Lewes look sharp enough to give the game a bit more bite.
Sussex Mens League Division 3
Hailsham 2nd Xi 3
Lewes 4th Xi 3 (Coplestone (3))
This result only favoured league leaders Chichester who stretched their lead as second placed Hailsham and third place Lewes fought out a six goal thriller in a hard fought match.
Lewes will be disappointed not to have taken all three points as they led on three occasions. James Coplestone opened the scoring from close range but the hosts equalised before Coplestone gave Lewes the lead just before halftime. Hailsham came back again from a penalty corner early in the second half only for Lewes to snatch the lead when Coplestone scored his and Lewes’ third midway through. Hailsham equalised with ten minutes remaining but Coplestone and Lewes thought they had won it in the closing minutes only for the umpire to disallow the goal. Lewes suffered two injuries in a physical match, with Billy Smart damaging his hand and Mike Fuller suffering a shoulder injury following a heavy challenge which are likely to see both of them out for a number of weeks.