Lewes, Hailsham through to hockey finals

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LEWES won through to the Sussex Cup Final in a pulsating semi-final at a sun-drenched Falmer.

Brighton were the favourites being in a higher league but Lewes, despite missing three players, matched their illustrious opponents and were deserved winners.

Lewes were looking the more dangerous and opened the scoring after 15 minutes when Dafydd Charles turned sharply and hit a shot that deflected into the goal.

Lewes were good value for the lead and doubled it after good work by James Fuller down the left wing saw his cross converted at the second attempt by Chris Spruce from close range. Brighton responded and pulled a goal back from a penalty corner but with five minutes to half time Lewes made it 3-1 when James Kifford’s penalty corner flick was deflected in by Spruce. Lewes paid the penalty for relaxing immediately and a strong run by Sam Rose the Brighton forward ended with a stick tackle in the circle on him. The resulting penalty stroke was converted to leave Lewes 3-2 ahead at half time.

For the opening 20 minutes of the second half Lewes were pegged back in their own half as Brighton raised their game – and it was no surprise when they equalised midway through the second period. It looked like this momentum would take them through to the final, but Lewes had other ideas and a quick break out of defence saw Charles score with a reverse stick strike after skipper Rory Jervis’s initial shot had been saved.

Brighton were then reduced to 10 players, something Lewes capitalised on when Jon Petch scored again with a skilful reverse stick strike to make it 5-3. And in the final seconds, Matt Hickman scored an outstanding individual goal, receiving the ball in his own half, holding off the final defender and drawing the goalkeeper before reverse flicking it in from a narrow angle.

Lewes will face hosts Chichester in the final on Sunday, May 8.

There were further celebrations as the Lewes 3rd XI and 4th XIs also made it through to their finals. The 3rd XI beat Worthing 4-2 in their semi-final at the Southdown Club, with Chris Heasman, Chris Marchant, Ian Whiting and Angus Donaldson on target, and the 4th XI got through in a round robin league, beating East Grinstead 2-0, Crawley 3-2 and drawing with Horsham 0-0 to pip Horsham on goals scored.

n HAILSHAM made it thought to the final of the Sussex Men’s Plate with a 2-1 away win at Hastings against South Saxons who, on paper, were regarded as favourites.

Hailsham took the lead when the young Will Furlong made a decisive drive from the halfway line to the Saxons circle to draw a foul, earning a short corner. From this Tony Hayes’ ball was deftly turned in by Benjie Groom.

However, despite a good spell of hockey then from Hailsham, their opponents were able to equalise 10 minutes before the break when a Saxons attacker pounced on an error to score from an acute angle past keeper Richard Burraston.

Shortly before half time both sides were reduced to 10 men: Saxons’ following a poor stick tackle on Matthew Wood, and Hailsha,’s player/coach Sam Rham for failing to retreat five yards from a Saxon free hit. A dominant Hailsham side were unlucky not to regain the lead earlier than they did in the second, with captain Jamie Hayes in particular coming close to scoring.

Unfortunately tempers then became inflamed and the umpires almost decided to abandon the game. Thankfully the captains were able to calm their sides and the match continued. But with less than 10 minutes remaining Hailsham were again reduced to 10 when after Scott Collier was shown a yellow card for deliberately knocking the ball away on a Saxons free hit in the 25, and Hailsham found themselves under the cosh. But despite this the visitors were able to scramble a winning goal after Will Furlong found Rob Lee free in the Saxons circle with less than three minutes to go.

The last moments of the game saw a valiant effort from the Hailsham defence, with man of the match Burraston making several decisive saves to keep the opposition out. They now face Middleton & Bognor in the final, to be played at Chichester on either Saturday or Sunday May 7 or 8.

n LEWES U18s qualified for the Finals Day of the Mercian Home Counties League for the second successive year with a great win at Reading, finally prevailing on penalties after the sides couldn’t be separated at 3-3. The hosts had won every match in their league but Lewes started well, with Nicoli Parrington-Berski calmly converting a penalty stroke in the opening minute and Angus Donaldson scoring a skilful goal by beating three defenders before flicking the ball over the goalkeeper.

Reading responded with their own penalty stroke but Alex Lloyd immediately made it 3-1 when converting a well-worked penalty corner routine.

Reading hit back with goals either side of half time to send the game to penalties, the hosts having missed three gilt-edged chances to win the game in the dying minutes. James Fuller, Alex Tapping, Harvey Waller and Parrington-Berski held their nerve to score, while the outstanding Sam Brooks pulled off two vital saves, as Lewes won the shoot-out 4-2. The finals day at Southgate Hockey Club is on Sunday, May 8.