Surbiton 11 Chichester 2
CHICHESTER knew they were in for a tough challenge after being drawn away against the EHA National Cup holders Surbition – who also finished second in the Premier National League last season.
Chichester went into the game wanting to turn up and play and from the start they tried to put the opposition under pressure.
Unfortunately, it was Surbiton who took the lead through an unfortunate deflection of a Chichester stick allowing the ball to fall nicely to GB International James Tindall who slotted home.
The visitors picked themselves up and immediately pressed the Surbiton defence resulting in a cheap turnover, and some skillfull work from new signing Ollie Baxter got his side a penalty corner.
A fine strike from Alex Thakore bought about a fine save from the Surbition keeper to keep the score at 1-0.
Chichester soon found themselves on the back foot and some fine attacking play opened up their defence and Surbiton managed to score four goals in quick succession.
The remaining ten minutes of the half saw Chichester pick themselves up and a fine interchange across the midfield of Matthew Cox, Thakore and Jack Lerwill, allowed Baxter to find space in the D and slot home a well-deserved goal and his first in Chichester colours.
Chichester could have added a further two goals before half-time with both Tom Phillips and Ollie Robinson going close, but it remained 5-1 at half time.
Chichester came out for the second half with the same mentality of wanting to play hockey and not just put 11 men behind the ball.
Unfortunately, once again, Chichester were undone by some fine movement and finishing from the Surbiton forwards which saw Chichester go further behind.
Chichester still managed to create chances with Lerwill, Andrew Sparshott and Lewis Strudwick going close and it was Sparshott’s pace which created Chichester’s second with a drive into the D and a neat layoff to Robinson who slotted the ball home.
Overall, Surbiton gave Chichester a hockey masterclass and showed why they are one of the best teams in the country, Chichester did came away with positives and two goals, and, although the scoreline of 11-2 may not show it, they did compete for large periods of the game. Chichester start their league campaign next Saturday away at Eastbourne with high expectations for the season ahead.