FOR the second year running, Lewes were runners-up to Chichester in the Sussex County Cup Final.
Lewes could have few complaints with the result though, as, despite a competitive final, they only rarely threatened their opponents’ goal throughout.
Conversely, Chichester, who dominated possession for long periods, scored the all-important early goal which allowed them to settle into the final.
For once over the weekend the wet weather relented and the sun shone during the final in front of a crowd of more than 250.
Lewes were pegged back early on and had already been warned when a break down the right saw the ball flash across the goal.
The same thing happened again on 10 minutes but this time the ball was flicked into the open goal at the far post to give Chichester a deserved lead.
Lewes briefly responded when youngster Harvey Waller released Matt Hickman down the left and his reverse stick shot from an oblique angle was well saved by the Chichester goalkeeper.
For the rest of the half Lewes could not get any possession in midfield and were under pressure – but keeper Sam Brooks was equal to penalty corner shots and open play strikes at the Lewes goal. Lewes needed to get some control of the game in the second half but too often valuable possession was given away on the rare occasions they got the ball.
The Lewes defence held firm, with Jack Fox, Matt Needle and Alex Warner outstanding repelling the Chichester attacks. A number of Chichester penalty corners came to nothing but the pressure on Lewes told, with two yellow cards for breaking down the play leaving them down to nine players at one stage. Creditably Lewes held firm and Chichester missed a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 when their forward missed an open goal and the ball went in off his foot rightly disallowed by the umpire.
At last Lewes exerted some control in midfield with 10 minutes remaining and put some pressure on the Chichester goal, with Andrew Birch having a shot saved and then a Warner penalty corner flick saved.
Just when Lewes thought they could get back into the game, Chichester broke and scored from close range to seal a deserved victory with five minutes remaining. Lewes had a chance in the final seconds to grab a consolation but successive penalty corners came to nothing, and Chris Marchant’s point blank flick from in front of goal was well saved by the goalkeeper.
Whilst Lewes will be rightly disappointed with the result they can at least take credit for reaching the final for the second year and pushing Chichester – a team from a higher league – all the way.
A number of the Lewes youngsters will gain by this experience for the future.