Hockey: Centurions find plenty of reasons for optimism

Action between Chichester and Spencer at Kingsham
Action between Chichester and Spencer at Kingsham

As the hockey season begins to wind down, we’ve news of an end-of-season thriller for Centurions and another big win for Chichester Friars.

Chichester Centurions 2 Crowborough 2

Ladies’ Sussex League

Centurions hosted visitors Crowborough for the last league match of the season and, although their place in division one for next season is secure, they knew it was an important test of strength.

They began with brilliant hockey, dominating possession for the majority of the first half. Intelligent, well-executed passes bypassed Crowborough’s midfield to put pressure on their defence.

Kerry Eames and Nicki Williams were busy on the left and worked superbly together to drive towards the goal and Williams gave Centurions the lead after 12 minutes with a fine strike.

Crowborough had pace and made Centurions defence work hard to block several fast attacks on goal. Nicki Edge repeatedly powered the ball up the pitch to the forwards.

Centurions were unable to convert several short corners but goalkeeper Chantelle Strudwick made sure Crowborough’s shots on goal were unsuccessful with some excellent saves. At half-time, Centurions were deservedly still ahead.

The second half began with Crowborough applying strong pressure. End-to-end play meant Centurions had to work hard to maintain their formation. Emma Dixon scooped the ball towards Louise Thew but despite several shots on goal, a second for Centurions would not come.

Crowborough scored after several attempts deep in the goalmouth but Centurions kept their heads up and continued to take every opportunity to pick up loose balls and were rewarded with a goal when Thew calmly delivered the ball to Claire Mealing, who slotted it past the goalkeeper.

Crowborough were not going to make it easy for Centurions to maintain their advantage and in the last ten minutes, they scored again after another scramble in front of the goal.

Centurions’ defence kept out several more short corners to keep the scores level.

It was a fine ending to a season that began with some disappointing results and hopefully Centurions can look forward to the next season with more performances like this.

CENTURIONS: D Brown, N Edge, N Williams, E Dixon, V Wake, K Eames, C Strudwick, L Thew, C Mealing, A Pordage, D Brooker, L Hurford.

Chichester Friars 8 Haslemere 0

The title-winning Friars finished their league season with another convincing win against the team in second place.

They started strongly, dominating possession with the midfield of Savoury, Neil Pacey and Walters controlling the game.

The first break came from Savoury, who ran through the middle of the defence and bludgeoned his shot past the keeper.

Pressure continued with Bryan Lock adding a sharply-taken second after great stick work. Chris Pacey added the third after a sharp pass from Tracy Boyce and, after some more excellent stick skills, Lock added his second of the game and 49th goal of the season.

Chichester added a fifth through a rocket-like short corner drag-flick from Hughes.

Further goals in the second half from Hughes and C Pacey from short corners and a well-taken open play goal from Boyce rounded off another excellent team performance.

The Chichester defence was brilliantly marshalled by Andrews, Smith, Alexander and Hughes and there was a special appearance by Kemp in goal, and the home side kept another clean sheet to return the best defensive record - just 24 conceded - in the league.

The Friars ended the season also having scored the most goals in the league - 106 - and now look forward to their cup finals on April 13.

* Chichester’s first XI were victims of the snow - it meant their game at Oxford was called off. They’ve two south open premier division one games left.