Hockey heroes claim two county cups for Chichester

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Chichester lifted the First XI Cup after defeating Lewes in the showpiece game of a weekend when the club proudly hosted a succession of county finals.

It followed a similar success by Chichester’s veterans, who beat Worthing.

With the sun out and a big crowd gathered, both teams were eager to make an early impact in the Firsxt XI final.

Lewes took early control, with the Chichester defence struggling to pick up passes from the visiting centre-back, enablingthe Lewes forwards to press Chichester’s back line.

The visitors started to dominate in midfield, which led to Luke Matthews being yellow-carded for what seemed a 50/50 challenge. But, down to ten men, Chichester started passing and created a few half-chances through Luke Emmett and Martin Gough.

With the break looming, Lewes took the lead when a quick break down the right opened up the Chichester defence and left a simple tap-in.

Chichester knew they had it all to do if they wanted to win the Sussex Cup for the sixth time in eight seasons.

One request from the coach was to transfer the ball and get into different channels and this started to open up the Lewes defence. Some great work down the left through Alex Thakore posed a constant threat. He won a penalty corner through good inter-passing with Cameron Mead and Andrew Sparshott.

The corner led to Mead flicking the ball at Thakore, who prodded it home to make it 1-1.

Two yellow cards followed for Lewes through ill discipline while an injury to Gerald Cox was a setback for Chichester.

Jack Lerwill, Thakore, Matt Cox and Connor McLaughlin kept control in midfield and Chichester took the lead when Matt Cox released Martin Gough, who passed two defenders and slotted the ball past the stranded Lewes keeper.

Chichester had numerous chances for a third but didn’t take them.

Hodge received a yellow late on and Lewes won a succession of penalty corners. One flick hit both posts and dropped to safety.

Jubilant scenes followed as Chichester celebrated winning in front of their home support.

Meanwhile, Chichester veterans beat their Worthing counterparts 4-2 when they hosted them for the third successive year in their Sussex Cup final.

Worthing started in lively fashion as they sought to avenge their two defeats in the previous finals. Chichester keeper Colin Ball was soon springing into action but he could not prevent Worthing taking the lead after 15 minutes.

Chichester started to apply pressure to the Worthing goal but the opposition looked dangerous on the break and timely interventions where required by Chris Deans and Andy Osborne.

Chichester started to create chances as the midfield quartet of Dave Walters, Olly Lane-Smith, Peter Hayward and Ed Marley wrestled control of midfield and it was no surprise when Andy Savory slotted home the equaliser. Then Chichester were guilty of wasting opportunities to take the lead while Worthing were indebted to their own keeper as he produced a string of fine saves.

In the second half, Worthing again started the stronger, putting Chichester under pressure, but the defence and midfield held firm and against the run of play Martin Hughes popped up in the area and crashed the ball in through a crowd of players to see Chichester go ahead.

The home team started to take control and chances started to come their way. A fine run by Lane-Smith saw him drive down the backline to set up Savory.

Worthing had to push forward, but in doing so left themselves vulnerable at the back to the skill and pace of Savory, Trace Boyce and Adrian Strange.

Worthing clawed a goal back to set up a tight finish at 3-2, but Chichester restored the two-goal advantage through Pete Hayward.

Worthing continued to push forward and Chichester missed chances to extend their lead.

The last action saw Boyce draw the keeper but he pushed the ball wide.

Chichester skipper Steve James collected the cup on behalf of the team as the veterans celebrated a hat-trick of Veterans’ Cup victories.

Chichester thirds couldn’t make it a hat-trick for the club, losing to Lewes thirds - but that didn’t detract from a memorable weekend for the club.