Chichester ladies are the Sussex Premier League champions – with five games to spare.
They delighted their home crowd at Chichester College by clinching the title and promotion into south division 3B where they will face teams such as Guildford, Fareham and Worthing.
The game against East Grinstead wasn’t an easy one to secure the prize but with great home support and a lot of fight, the girls did what they do best and got on the scoreboard within three minutes.
A short corner was won by little pocket rocket Katie Rose on the right wing, slotted at the far post by Jess Gleeson.
The forwards had some work to do and Sally Bradley had her best game of the season, closely supported by left winger Liv Francis.
Chichester have been suffering with injuries and had only 11 players, which meant the whole team had to work hard for the full 70 minutes.
A lucky break from East Grinstead put them on the board as they sneaked one past Claire Goodger-Greenway’s back post with a deflection to make it 1-1.
Chi powered back and a swift break from centre-back Demelza Peake saw a link-up with Meg Goring on the right and Cita Haines’ skill through the middle meant it was 2-1.
At half-time Chi led 4-2 so still had work to do. Jess Gleeson and Natty Halliday shone to put EG to shame in the middle of the park, Tracy Austin didn’t put a foot wrong and the girls were on a roll as they finished 10-3 winners.
Gleeson had scored a record four goals, Bradley the same number, with Haines and Katie Rose scoring one apiece.
The final whistle went and the champagne flowed thanks to proud club chairman Simon Pierce.
Chi have five games to play and an unbeaten league season is the target. Then it will be a case of bring on next season.
Chi ladies: Goring, Goodger-Greenway, Peake, Horton, Haines, Gleeson, Halliday, Francis, Rose, Austin, Bradley.
West Herts 2 Chichester 1
Chichester’s fears of being sucked into the end-of-season relegation play-offs deepened with a shock 2-1 defeat by West Herts, who celebrated their first league win of the campaign.
Herts came out of the blocks hard, fighting and challenging every tackle. This, combined with a poor start by Chichester, led to multiple circle entries by West Herts.
The home team went ahead when the ball was flung into the D for a tap-in at the back post.
Chichester marginally improved, winning a couple more short corners before the break, but couldn’t get on the scoresheet.
After harsh words at half-time from their coach, Chichester came out all guns blazing, finally starting to get a foothold and beginning to play some decent hockey.
Attacks were starting to be generated with West Herts being run ragged. This pressure paid off when a short corner was won for a foot inside the opposition D.
Theeffort from a drag flick by Richie Barlow was saved but Luke Emmett was on hand to convert the rebound – 1-1 with 15 minutes to go.
Both teams ended the game in a scrappy manner, with cards shown to both teams, including a yellow to the West Herts centre-half for a reckless tackle in the middle of the park, giving Chichester an advantage in the closing stages.
Chichester were unable to capitalise on the advantage, and when West Herts were back to 11 men, they won a controversial short corner.
The ball was flicked hard and fast down the side of the goal and a deflection lifted the ball off the floor, giving Chichester keeper Maciej Pacanowski no chance – 2-1 with 30 seconds left aqnd no time for an equaliser.
This was a poor performance from Chichester giving themselves a lot to improve on before a six-pointer this Saturday against Old Georgians at Chichester College. A win for Chichester will move them above the opposition.
Brighton and Hove 4ths 2 Chichester Ladies 2nds 2
Chichester travelled to Blatchington Mill School to play Brighton ladies fourths looking for a league double.
A fast break from Brighton in the first 15 minutes led to a two-on-one in Brighton’s favour. A promising save from Claire Young couldn’t precent an excellent finish from the follow-up from a talented Brighton striker.
This did not unsettle Chichester and within minutes the ladies had strung together a series a quick passes which left Brighton on the back foot.
An accurate cross from the right made for an easy goal for Sarah Jessop.
Accurate first touches and early offloads allowed Chichester to put Brighton under pressure which led to a second goal, scored by Chloe Goddard, just five minutes later.
The second half saw Chichester ladies making some great runs with early balls but these were not as accurate as they’d have liked.
At times Brighton outplayed Chichester with their pace and accuracy and that led to them equalising.
Both teams tried to fnd a winner but were thwarted by solid defending.
Chi ladies: Parrott, Greenway, Hurd, Baxter, Young, Oliver-Catt, Smith, Bradley, Trent, Hauxwell, Jessop, Goddard.