Chichester Hockey Club’s men’s first tram finished their pre-season preparations with a weekend away and two tough fixtures against Brighton and Oxted.
They will start their league campaign this Sunday away to league debutants Bedford, and will have taken heart from the performances in the past few weeks.
Pre-season has seen some changes to the team’s staff, with Chichester stalwart Neil Pendle stepping into the manager’s position and Kat Skilton becoming team physio.
New players Jack Knight and Joe Nelmes have joined, Richard Blakesley has rejoined and crowd favourite Connor McLaughlan has rejoined training, while Oscar Pacey, Callum Peyman and Jasper Marshal are making the transition from junior hockey into the adult performance ranks.
However, it will be mostly familiar faces who will represent the team when they push back at Bedford on Sunday, and much of pre-season has been organised around the need to change the culture and ambitions in the performance section of the club.
The team want to be candidates for promotion this season, and performances against Teddington (4-3 win); Brighton (3-2 win) and Oxted (4-3 loss), all of whom play in the higher South Conference, has been encouraging.
Alex Pendle, fresh from selection for the England development programme at U23 level, is in devastating goalscoring form having scored six during preseason.
Chris Bristow has returned fresh from the summer break and is proving he is among the best goalkeepers in the country; and Alex Baxter, Alex Messenger, Alex Holton and Cameron Ryall have looked like they will play considerable roles in the team’s ambitions.
Chichester Ladies II 2 Brighton and Hove V 0
Sussex Ladies Div 1
This was the first game of the new season for Chichester Ladies’ twos and they had a different line-up from the one that ended the 2018-19 season.
Neither side started with much structure to their play but Chi had the majority of possession throughout the first half, though were undone by wayward passing.
They scored early through Sarah Jessop, who has been a leading goalscorer for many seasons. She showed real quality in scoring Chichester’s first goal. Passing was not the greatest from both sides but Chi’s ball control shone.
Their second goal came from Alex Hurd, who entered the D and fired one past the Brighton keeper.
In the second half Chi got to grips with the match and kept Brighton at bay. Chichester should have had more goals but they were delighted to have won.
Chichester: Char O’Callaghan, Tracy Austin, Jackie Baxter, Sarah Jessop, Kate Woods, Vicky Oliver Catt, Kath Mundy, Emily Bradford, Tilly Pennington, Elise Bennison,Lindsay Hauxwell, Alex Hurd.
Chichester Hockey Club’s third XI began the season with a cup win against East Grinstead.
Chi expected a tough game given the prestige of their opponents’ first XI and the fact almost all of the Chichester side were in the fourth XI last season.
Fortunately Chi fourths had developed such an effective playing style under the coaching of veteran campaigner Andy Barnes and such a strong squad of players led by Jason Lansdale.
East Grinstead were quite inexperienced and Chichester cruised to a comfortable 3-0 lead after half an hour with goals from McCartain (2) and Lansdale.
East Grinstead pulled a goal back just before half-time.
The second half was played at a slower pace but Chichester’s better care of the ball, superb defending and efficiency in the final third meant they scored a further five goals with no reply.
Ashton did need to make a fine double save in the Chichester goal but had a quiet afternoon.
The second-half goals came from Richardson, Taylor, Lansdale and Scott. Chichester also had a goal disallowed as McCartain deflected the hall in with his foot - it was the scorer’s dad who disllowed it.
MoM Scott was a constant goal threat on the left wing. His skill, speed and awareness belied his mere 15 years.
Right-back Carr may miss games following his collision with a bystander.
The team will visit Lewes in the quarter-finals with the league starting the following week.
Anybody interested in getting back into hockey or starting can come along to club training on Wednesdays at Chichester High School, 7pm to 9pm.
Chichester III 9 Lewes III 2
3rd XI Sussex Cup QF
Chichester travelled to Lewes, the reward for their excellent win against East Grinstead.
Lewes were a tougher proposition on a warm day but Chichester started very brightly. Lewes struggled to cope with Chichester’s aggressive press and conceded quick goals to Steely and Scott.
Chichester extended the lead through a Strange drag-flick low past the goalkeeper. Chichester controlled the game but a misplaced pass let Lewes in for an excellent counter-attack goal.
Chichester were undeterred and scored further goals through Lansdale and Steeley to go in at half-time with a good lead.
The second half saw further Chichester dominance as the defence kept the ball for long periods, wearing Lewes down. Especially excellent in this regard were Whittle and Trent.
Chichester scored several further excellent goals including a delightful lob from Lansdale, a thunderbolt off the underside of the bar from the marauding Beardy-Garriock and a wonderful team goal made by Scott and Lansdale for Steely’s fourth.
A Lewes short corner led to a goal.
Man of the match was four-goal Steely, ahead of right-back Carr, who was excellent.
This week Chichester play Havant in a league game at Chichester College. Club training is on Wednesday at Chichester High School at 7pm for all teams from thirds to sixths. Anyone new or returning to hockey is welcome.