Martin Gough rescued a point for nine-man Chichester in a 3-3 draw away to University of Bristol in Conference West.
Chichester went into this game with high hopes of another three points after the win a week earlier against University of Birmingham.
In cold weather the game started at a slow pace with neither side taking control, but on 18 minutes the game came alive. It was Bristol who had thawed out first and neatly converted a penalty corner to go 1-0 up.
Bristol continued to press and poor defending by Chichester allowed Bristol to pounce again for the second two minutes later.
Things looked bleak for Chichester if they were to continue to play the way they were, but to the relief of the fans and the bench they finally started to play their passing game and some quick two-touch hockey between Dan Brook, Matt Cox and Alex Thakore found Alex Baxter at the back post to score on the stroke of half-time.
Chichester had to start the second half as they finished the first and they started to apply pressure to Bristol from the whistle.
The pressure started to show and Bristol soon found themselves down to ten men. But for some fine saves from the Bristol goalkeeper denying Gough and Alex Pendle, the game would have been level.
For all the pressure it was Bristol whoscored next - getting their third from another penalty corner in the 53rd minute.
This might have been enough to see some teams off, but not Chi. If anything it seemed to spur them on and eight minutes later Gough marked his return to the team by expertly deflecting Sewell’s precise pass into the top corner.
This was Sewell’s final contribution – shortly after he was yellow-carded along with Baxter, leaving Chichester to finish the game with nine men.
It was all or nothing for Chichester. Leaving Kieran Henn as a lone defender they continued to push forward for the equaliser, and in the 69th minute they were rewarded.
Once again Chichester’s passing game left Bristol confused and the close skills of Pendle and Cox found Sparshott, whose creativity with a reverse-stick pass found Gough to dispatch his second to make it 3-3.
Chichester weren’t done and had the final chance of the game but Luke Emmett’s short corner was somehow saved by the Bristol keeper.
On reflection Chichester will be pleased to come out with a point, given their first-half performance, but know if they play like they did in the second half, few teams in the league will be able to compete with them.
This Sunday sees Chichester take on local rivals Fareham at Kingsham (2pm) and they will need to be on the money from the first whistle to the last.
Chichester Ladies 5 East Grinstead 3rd 1
Chichester are on a roll after beating opponents they reckoned would be their toughest of the season so far.
Only a few points separate these teams and after a fine win for Chichester, they are closing the gap on leaders Brighton.
The first half started strongly for EG with an attack into the Chichester half, but good positioning from Amy Chaplin and Sally Bradley allowed Chichester to get the ball up the other end in a flash.
The left side of midfield, dominated by Anna Healey and Patty Hyla, allowed left winger Cita Haines to drive the ball along the base line and slot it back to Sambel who fired in.
Hyla worked her international magic which allowed Meg Goring and Lottie Greenlees to play a one-two on the edge of the circle forcing EG to concede a short corner. A straight strike from Verena Sambel saw Hyla’s deflection make it 2-0.
Demelza Peake and Jess Gleeson passed the ball precisely between them and Mirriam Sparshott and Natalie Halliday made some solid tackles and supported the midfield.
Chichester were awarded their third penalty and a pass to Haines deflected the ball nicely into the top corner.
EG won a short corner and Halliday closed down the first strike. Sparshott and Chaplin on the posts supported Claire Goodger-Greenway but somehow the ball still went in.
The second half started with Hyla’s reverse pass putting Gleeson in a fantastic position to put Chi 4-1 up.
Greenlees made some fantastic runs on the right and the midfield and defensive support was second to none.
Haines completed her hat-trick to put the cherry on the cake for Chichester.
Chichester face South Saxons at home this Saturday to try to climb into the top two.
The ladies had an England Hockey Vase second-round clash versus Wotton-under-Edge on Sunday and managed another 5-1 win.
Chichester are through to the quarter-finals and are a step closer to a run-out at Lee Valley.
Southwick 2 Chichester Ladies 2nds 0
Chichester needed to pull out all the stops but with some key people missing it wasn’t going to an easy task to stop Southwick.
Chichester started in a positive manner and were a different side to the one who lost to Eastbourne last week.
They put Southwick under pressure by passing the ball well and supporting the player with the ball.
Once again Alex Hurd at centre-back impressed as did Charlotte Stemp at left-back. Chichester went close to opening the scoring as Rachel Trent and Xenia Trueman showed skills the home side couldn’t keep up with.
The home side took advantage of a little lapse in concentration and because Chi were pushing so hard, Southwick got around the back for their first goal.
Despite Chichester’s valiant work the hosts got their second. Chichester’s passing was sublime at times and they did deserve to be rewarded.
This week it’s a derby at Bognor.
Chichester II: Claire Young, Tracy Austin, Jenna Greenway, Charlotte Stemp , Harriet Gray, Sarah Jessop, Xenia Trueman, Rachel Trent, Alex Hurd, Merryn Young, Elisha Baker.
Chichester 3rds 2 Eastbourne 3rds 1
Chichester put pressure on from the start and scored twice in the first 20 minutes through Katie Rose, but Eastbourne kept the team on their toes with a few near misses.
Goalie Charlotte O’Callaghan made some excellent saves and was named player of the match. Lauren Sodden-Bridger battled well.
Eastbourne came out hard and got one back and Chichester were unable to maintain the same pressure they had in the first half. Emma Tyler had a good spell on the right wing as Chichester fought hard for the victory.
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