Chichester Hockey Club's men's firsts put a league loss behind them with cup success - and are now in the quarter-finals of the sport's equivalent of the FA Cup.
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Chichester 2 Cardiff 3
Chichester’s men’s firsts experienced again what a rollercoaster experience sport can be.
They followed up a disappointing loss to Cardiff Met in the Men’s Hockey League Conference West with a victory over Plymouth in the England Hockey Cup.
The team have been training well during the winter break from matches and did well in a friendly against neighbours Brighton.
Early on against Cardiff they missed an early chance - and that set the tone.
Chichester mounted wave after wave of attacks but were stifled by a resolute Cardiff defence - while Cardiff’s rare ventures into Chichester territory resulted in a two-goal deficit to the Sussex team at half-time.
The second half brought a goal from MoM Alex Baxter - and Chichester got close to an equaliser.
Cardiff’s defence were reduced to lifting balls over the top of the Chichester defence in the hope that their lone striker might produce some magic. Sure enough this happened midway through the half when a Chichester defender slipped, which afforded a Cardiff striker the room he needed.
Chichester kept attacking and a shot from Ollie Baxter and good play from Alex Pendle forced Cardiff back - and eventually a penalty corner was scored by Alex Messenger.
A late penalty corner saw a shot squeezed under the goalkeeper but the ball came to rest on the goal-line where a Cardiff defender cleared.
Chichester 2 Cardiff 1
English HA Cup
Chichester learned the lessons of the Cardiff defeat in their cup game against Plymouth the next day.
The pressure on the Plymouth defence was huge from the off, which led to a chance for new signing Connor Todd in the first minute and an early goal from Alex Pendle from a penalty stroke awarded when Alex Thakore was upended.
Chi won a number of short corners that were for the most part well defended by the Devon side. Joe Budgen provided athreat at the back post and Ollie Baxter was disappointed not to be awarded another penalty stroke when he was floored with only the keeper to beat.
After the interval, with the left side of the pitch starting to freeze, Chichester were prodigious down the right and were getting closer and closer to a deciding goal when they conceded from Plymouth’s only venture into the Chi circle.
At 1-1, there seemed a risk of further disappointment. However, Chichester are well-versed in these cup scenarios and respond best when challenged.
Within a few minutes Chi won another penalty corner which was expertly put away by Baxter after a great delivery from Pendle.
This knocked the stuffing out of Plymouth who could no longer cope with Chichester’s pace. Thakore sent a shot narrowly wide, and with five minutes left Pendle lined up a devastating reverse-stick shot that led to a quadruple save from the outstanding Plymouth goalie.
The pitch started to limit attacking instincts but the final whistle signalled Chichester’s place in the quarter-finals of the national cup.
Chichester make cup progress at Havant
Chichester Ladies 4 Eastbourne Ladies 4
South Division 3B
Chichester Ladies held leaders Eastbourne in a fast-paced game.
Chi went ahead after an amazing ball from the midfield to Beanie Bradley, who challenged and beat a player and held the ball. A sprint from Lottie Greenlees led to her receiving the ball in the D and she converted.
Katie Rose was relentless, badgering Eastbourne and passing to Louisa Taylor, who outskilled multiple defenders. Bradley received the ball and after a scramble at the keeper’s feet, Greenlees bagged another.
Eastbourne made valiant efforts up the wings but Meg Hattemore and Meg Goring kept them out.
Chichester had multiple fierce attacks, often starting with Kelly Stevens at centre back and played through the midfield by Sam Sammon and Vicky McAllister.
Eastbourne scored a penalty corner despite strong defensive work from Claire Goody and Demelza Peake.
The first half finished with a short corner to Chichester. A strike from Louisa Taylor at the top of the D led to another goal - this one completing her hat-trick - by Greenless.
In the second half Eastbourne were strong, scoring two penalty corners to make it 3-3.
Chichester battled on, Louisa Taylor stopping further goals by putting her body on the line.
A penalty corner was earned by Jess Gleeson and Rachel Mealyer deflected in it for a 4-3 lead.
Eastbourne levelled again through a penalty corner but a 4-4 draw was a huge morale boost for Chichester.
Chichester Ladies 2s 1 Middleton 2
Sussex Ladies premier pivision
Chichester and Middleton battled against the cold weather and gradually freezing pitch to produce some great hockey.
Chi were nervous, knowing they needed to improve a great deal from last week’s game, which they did.
The first few minutes were edgy, with players not believing in their own abilities – but they calmed down and started to pass the ball around well, pushing forward at every opportunity.
Middleton stretched the Chi midfield and defence and went ahead. It wasn’t long before Chi pressurised the visitors’ defence – a penalty corner was awarded and Sarah Jessop made it 1-1 at half-time.
Chichester’s play from the back was improving and player of the game Alex Hurd was a stalwart. Rachel Trent, Xenia Trueman and Charlotte Stemp were moving around well up front to see if they could break through but the visitors held firm.
Middleton got the winner, which gutting for a Chichester side that had improved 100 per cent from the week before.
Chichester: Abson, Austin, Parrott, Stemp, Jessop, Hallier, Bennison, Oliver-Catt, Trent, Hurd, Mundy, Trueman.
Chichester team hit 14 without reply
Chichester Friars 7 Salisbury 0
Wessex Masters League
The Friars overtook Salisbury to regain second place in the league with an incredible performance.
With less than five minutes on the clock, Martin Hughes had smashed in two short-corner shots. The team settled and were further rewarded when Andrew Savory gave the keeper no chance from a penalty flick.
Salisbury found it increasingly difficult to break out of their own half as the Friars controlled the midfield, with Mark Green, Dave Walters and Steve Mercer countering any threats.
Tracey Boyce was unlucky not to score with a great touch round the keeper, which hit the post, but Alex Langhein was on hand to tap the ball in from the rebound.
Salisbury came out hard at the start of the second half, but once again they were not able to make any real inroads as the Friars continued to play fast-flowing and expansive hockey.
With 44 minutes gone Martin completed his hat-trick, this time with a drag flick from a short corner to make it 5-0. Nick Laurence crashed home a first-time shot from the top of the D after 20 minutes and almost on the final whistle Savory added the seventh to underline and emphatic win.
Chichester: R Torrance, D Walters, M Hughes, A Savory, D Jaeger, T Boyce, A Osborne, A Strange, C Smith, A Langhein, N Laurence, M Green, S Mercer.
Chi Ladies 4s 1 Southampton 5s 1
Chi Ladies 4s showed they were closely matched with Southampton fifths.
There was a lacklustre start from Chi who seemed to lose their shape, width and communication.
A break from Southampton resulted in a ball across the Chi goal which was unstoppable for Char O’Callaghan.
This roused Chi from their reverie and they came back strong and determined. Ali Bushnell and Verity Overton-Smith did well for Chi, allowing Mandy Clark, Teresa Willway and Heidi Johnson to dominate the Southampton half.
This paid off with Bushnell, who recognised the Southampton goalie was strong defending shots on the ground, lifting the ball over the top to equalise.
Chi kept up the pressure but deflections from Caroline Homer and Rachel Austin just missed the target. Strong defensive play from Hayley Johnson and Mel Litchfield kept Southampton’s attack at bay and the result was fair.
Player of the match was Bushnell.
Chi Ladies 4s: O’Callaghan, Cruttenden, HY Johnson, Ashton, Litchfield, Austin, Overton-Smith, Bushnell, Homer, HI Johnson, Willway, Clark.