There were mixed fortunes for Chichester’s senior hockey teams as they returned to league action.
The men lost at Cheltenham while the ladies got the better of Mid Sussex.
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Cheltenham 3 Chichester 1
National League Conference West
Chichester summed up their league opener with the words: Could have done better.
They travelled to Cheltenham on the back of a solid pre-season but this was the first time they had been able to select from a full squad.
Historically Cheltenham are tough to break down at home on a pitch that offers them a big advantage.
Chichester started slowly and struggled to put together a meaningful number of passes. But Chichester created the first attempt on goal through a penalty corner that was well saved.
Cheltenham won a penalty corner of their own and Chichester went one down through a well-executed drag flick.
Things got worse for Chichester when poor marking resulted in a simple tap-in to make it 2-0.
Chichester almost got one straight back when Jack Lerwill played in Martin Gough, who rounded the keeper but saw his effort brilliantly deflected on to the post.
The end of the half had Chichester showing positive signs with good work through the midfield of Alex Thakore, Luke Emmett and Matt Cox.
The second half started in a similar fashion and losing possession in the middle of the park saw Chichester exposed – and some neat passing put Chichester 3-0 behind with half an hour left.
With the assistance of interesting umpiring, Chichester started to lose their composure and made things even harder for themselves by having to play with ten men for large parts of the second half.
Despite this, they pressed forward and won a number of penalty corners that weren’t converted. A goalbound shot from Jamie Whitehouse hit a defender on the line and resulted in a penalty flick, but Gough’s flick was missed.
Chichester pulled one back with ten minutes left when a goalmouth scramble ended with Andrew Sparshott tapping the ball into the goal.
Chichester headed home feeling, as they did a number of times last year, they ‘should have done better.’ Lessons need to be learned quickly at this level and Chichester will need to bounce back in time for their first home match of the season on Saturday when they host Isca at 12.15pm at Kingsham.
Chichester: Maciej Pacanowski, Kieran Henn, Dan Brook, Matt Sewell, Matt Cox, Alex Thakore, Luke Emmett, Jack Lerwill, Martin Gough, Ollie Baxter, Alex Baxter, Andrew Sparshott, Charlie Gibbons, Louis Gibbons, Jamie Whitehouse.
Chichester Ladies 3 Mid Sussex 2
Chichester ladies had a home start versus Mid Sussex – and new kit thanks to sponsors Game Set & Match and Adidas. They finished last season third in the league and fitness has been the key to their training for the past two months.
Early on Chichester had the upper hand and Mid Sussex couldn’t keep up with passing between Sally Bradley, Natalie Halliday, Emily Lerwill and Mirriam Sparshott.
A quick injection of pace from Patti Hyla down the middle saw the ball fire into Verena Sambel and a deflection from Lottie Greenlees off the post really gave the girls hope.
Five minutes later, Chichester found themselves in the opposition’s D again, and silky skills from Polish international Hyla earned a short corner. It led to Sambel firing the ball in the back of the net.
Another quick transfer saw Meg Goring inject pace down the right and newcomer Anna Healey slotted the ball into the goal via the post.
New keeper Steph Kalber made some fantastic saves from a short corner after excellent defensive work and the girls went in 2-0 up.
The second half started with a lack of concentration from Chichester and Mid Sussex put away a deflected short corner.
Then a fantastic interception from Greenlees found Holly Giles in the D and the move was nicely finished by Hyla.
It finished 3-2, a fantastic three points to start the season.
CHICHESTER: Goring, Sambel, Hyla, Deacon, Giles, Greenlees, Chaplin, Bradley, Halliday, Lerwill, Sparshott, Kalber.
Honeybees 2 Chichester Ladies 2nds 3
Chichester ladies’ seconds went to Falmer to play the Honeybees in their first league game of 16-17 - and came away with the spoils.
They started well and put pressure on the home defence.
Chi scored first through Sarah Pack, who dribbled into the circle and, with a strong push, the ball went towards the goal and rebounded off the keeper and in.
Honeybees liked to counter and sometimes stand-in keeper Tracy Austin felt under pressure but Cheryl Parrott and Nat Spencer helped her out with some great tackles.
Jenna Greenway at centre made some excellent interceptions.
Chichester scored their second from a penalty corner, Sarah Jessop helping set up new player Alicia Wergan to score on her debut.
Great passing from Xenia Trueman, Rachel Trent and Jess Gleeson saw Trent pop up on the post and score her first of the season. Close to half-time, Honeybees got one back.
In the second half Chi were awarded a penalty flick for a infringement on the goal line but the goalie saved it.
Honeybees pushed forward and were given a penalty flick from which they did score. Greenway had to go off injured but Chi held on.
Chichester: Tracy Austin, Sarah Jessop, Sarah Pack, Jenna Greenway, Cheryl Parrott, Rachel Trent, Jess Gleeson, Nat Spencer, Alicia Wergan, Willemijn Ponten, Xenia Trueman.
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