An exciting Sussex derby heads this week’s hockey round-up, which also includes victories for Chichester PP Ladies, the Friars and Middleton & Bognor.
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Chichester 2 Brighton 2
South open premier division one
After a four-week Christmas break, Chichester had to settle for a share of the spoils when they returned to action against Sussex rivals Brighton.
With only two points separating the teams in the table, this was always likely to be a cracking game.
The rain was hammering down and both teams started tentatively, and the majority of play was in the midfield.
Chichester showed the first signs of attacking intent but the few attacks they had carried little threat.
Brighton took the lead halfway through the half when Chichester gave away a sloppy free hit in their own 25. The visitors took it quickly and Sam Rose was quickest in the D to put Brighton 1-0 up with a neat finish.
Ten minutes later, Chichester equalised - a nice transfer found Alex Thakore in space and he fired the ball into the D for a diving Martin Gough to deflect the ball into the goal.
After the break, Chichester started to dominate. Great chances for Andrew Sparshott and Alex Baxter came and went but Chichester did make it 2-1 when Sparshott and Gough linked up well and Gough flicked the ball into the top corner for a 2-1 lead.
Chichester had chances to put the game to bed but paid the price for not taking them when Jack Lerwill lost easy possession on the right.
A quick counter-attack followed, leaving a Brighton forward to slot the ball home and make it 2-2.
The final five minutes showed that neither team were willing to settle for a point.
Chichester broke away through Thakore, Blakesley and Lerwill and the ball found Alex Baxter, who was unable to beat the Brighton keeper one on one.
With seconds left, Brighton found a Chichester foot in the D - penalty corner to Brighton and the final whistle went.
Even when the final whistle goes in hockey, if a penalty corner has been awarded it is allowed to be completed.
The resulting drag flick was picked off the line by Chichester player-coach Jason Collins to secure a draw.
Brighton will be the happier of the two teams with this result, but Chichester will take heart from the performance and with a long way to go in the season, it is all to play for.
Chichester PP Ladies 7 Worthing II 1
Chichester were missing captain Kate Helme and because of sickness they had no available subs. This did not matter in the first half as Chichester were dominant.
Sally Thew scored the first and went on to complete a hat-trick in the second half. Chichester’s passing was excellent and the team worked hard for each other.
Beth Marks scored from close range as some excellent midfield passing gave her the opportunity.
Lyndsay Hudson (2) and Nikki Kuntze added to the score and it was 6-0 at half-time.
In the second half, Chichester seemed to lose concentration and let Worthing in and scored.
Mel Banks drove up the pitch and Thew got on the end of the attack to finish off her treble.
CHICHESTER: Claire Young, Tracy Austin, Mel Banks, Emma Bennison, Floor Van der Stap, Amy Chaplin, Emily Ursell, Sally Thew, Beth Marks, Lyndsay Hudson, Nikki Kuntze.
Brighton & Hove Ladies III 3 Chichester Centurions 2
Sussex Ladies’ League division one
Centurions travelled in freezing weather conditions to challenge mid-table Brighton & Hove.
It was a fast-paced game from the start, with the majority of the play down the centre.
Nicki Edge broke through the Brighton barrier several times to provide Nicki Williams with the ball, which she drove up the left wing, while Centurions defence did not allow Brighton to convert any short corners.
Despite making numerous strong saves, Chantelle Strudwick was unable to stop a high ball that deflected from a Centurions defender into the goal.
Centurions gained more possession but were unable to attack the goal.
After 25 minutes, Brighton struck a well-placed shot which ended the second half 2-0.
Centurions began the second half with typical determination. They were rewarded after ten minutes when Claire Mealing skilfully wove round two defenders to finish with a superb strike to put Centurions on the scoreboard.
The next 15 minutes was end-to-end play before Brighton snatched a third goal. Williams made an excellent cross into the D which Louise Thew pounced on to slot past the Brighton defence.
Centurions continued to pressure the Brighton defence and it looked like an equaliser was imminent but it was not to be.
CENTURIONS: Lucy Sarson, Vicki Wake, Louise Thew, Claire Mealing, Michelle Harbord, Nicki Edge, Nicki Williams, Debbie Brown, Dawn Brooker, Louise Hurford, Molly Johnstone, Chantelle Strudwick.
West Wilts Masters 3 Chichester Friars 8
Wessex Masters League
A poor performance at the end of November in a 3-2 defeat at home to Havant was followed by good away wins at Alton (1-0) and Winchester (7-2).
The Friars finished the first half of the season in second place in the Wessex Masters League.
This game was against the league leaders for the chance to overtake them. The game was competitive from the start.
Despite good pressure from the Friars, Wilts took the lead from a short corner. The Friars continued to push hard and had several chances.
Wilts came close but were kept out by a fine save from Colin Ball, followed by a goal-line clearance from Andrew Osborne. A great run and cross by Dave Walters and sharp finish by Bryan Lock made it 1-1.
A lack of concentration led to a second Wilts goal almost straight from the restart. The Friars kept pushing and Bryan fired in his second to level it again.
Just before the end of the half, Andrew Savory scored the third for the Friars. To finish ahead after being
behind twice was a real boost.
Tracey Boyce scored with a great reaction short-range finish in the first minute of the second half. The Friars were now in control but a freak deflected goal brought Wilts back to only one goal behind.
After that, the game was dominated by the Friars, who pushed Wilts back into their own half and three more goals from Lock put the result beyond doubt.
The work rate and hockey played by the Friars was tremendous, with great tackling and passing.
Boyce finished off the scoring with his second late in the game.
The whole team excelled and the challenge now is to win all remaining games and take the league.
FRIARS: Colin Ball, John Milton, Trevor Andrews, Andrew Osborne, Dave Alexander, Dave Walters, Neil Pacey, Chris Pacey, Andrew Savory, Bryan Lock, Tracey Boyce.
In the Wessex Masters League Cup Group D, the Friars finished top of the group with four straight wins - against Havant (9-4), United Services (14-0), Petersfield (2-0) and Portsmouth & Southsea (6-2).
Chichester Ladies III 1 Middleton & Bognor 3
Chichester braved the rain and cold for their first game after the Christmas break.
Despite the weather, they started off well with some promising passing between the defence and midfield. However Middleton had a lucky break through the Chichester defence which saw a powerful strike slip past Tracy Bill in goal.
After an inspiring half-time talk, Chichester came back fighting and Kelly Lillywhite put the ball past the Bognor keeper.
Unfortunately Bognor came back to score their second goal before frustration for Chichester as they had a cracking shot from Jules Stallard disallowed from the edge of the D.
This resulted in some minor mistakes from Chichester, and Bognor pushed up to score again.
Although they lost, Chichester left the pitch with their heads held high as there was some excellent improvement shown.
Their skills are developing each week and hopefully their hard work will pay off in the games to come.
CHICHESTER: Heidi Dunster, Kelly Lillywhite, Demelza Peake, Jules Stallard, Kayleigh Carter, Christina Procter, Tracy Bill, Emily Halterman, Judith, Rose Phillips, Holly Gyles.