LEWES put up a brave fight in the Sussex Hockey Cup Final, going down narrowly 2-1 to hosts Chichester in front of a large crowd.
Lewes were missing their four U18 players who were at the Mercian Finals, but nevertheless produced one of their best performances of the season against higher league opposition. Skipper Rory Jervis, normally a forward, played in goal and Andrew Birch moved to midfield to partner Matt Clark to combat the Chichester midfield threat of Matt Cox and Jack Lerwill.
Lewes (above left) were not overawed by the occasion and created the first penalty corner which saw Daffyd Charles’s flick well saved by the goalkeeper.
Chichester responded with successive penalty corners which came to nothing and Lewes were stretching the home defence with incisive breaks from midfield. At the back Tom Newman and Jack Fox dealt comfortably with the Chichester attacks.
Just on half time a quick pass from Tom Stratford found Charles on the left hand side and his accurate cross was coolly converted by David Roberts past the oncoming keeper to give Lewes a deserved lead.
Lewes knew the opening 15 minutes of the second half would be critical and set out to defend their narrow lead. Jervis made two instinctive saves as the Chichester forwards could not find a breakthrough.
As the pressure built Lewes went down to 10 players but were holding out manfully – that is until a fortuitous deflection from a penalty corner flick saw the ball go in from an effort that was initially heading safely wide.
Buoyed by this moment of great good fortune, Chichester then struck again within minutes from a close range effort and Lewes faced an uphill battle to get back into the match.
To their credit they pushed forward and in a controversial decision Charles’s penalty corner flick hit the post but the umpire indicated the whole ball had not crossed the line despite Lewes protests.
Chichester failed to make the game safe, missing gilt-edged chances in the final five minutes and Lewes nearly grabbed an equaliser when Ollie Callf’s close range effort was well saved by the Chi keeper.
In a frantic finish successive Lewes penalty corners, one after the final whistle, were cleared to frustrate Lewes and prevent extra time.
This performance will give Lewes something to build on next season as they enjoy a well deserved summer break.
UNDER 21 FINAL
LEWES 6 BRIGHTON 3
LEWES (above right) retained their Under 21 Cup outplaying Brighton in a fast and entertaining final.
Lewes opened the scoring with a trademark penalty corner flick from Alex Lloyd and were 2-0 up by half time when Angus Donaldson converted a cross from the right. Brighton were physical but this did not affect Lewes as they dominated possession in midfield, with Alex Tapping prominent and James Fox and Ben Johnson were in control in defence.
Within 10 minutes of the second half restart Lewes stretched their lead when James Fuller skipped through a static defence to strike home and then Matt Hickman deflected in a cross from Ian Whiting.
A skilful run from skipper Chris Spruce set up Alex Baxter to deflect home and it looked like Lewes would win comfortably.
But they then went down to 10 men and Brighton creditably grabbed their opportunity, scoring twice and forcing a previously redundant Sam Brooks in the Lewes goal into a number of outstanding saves as the Lewes defence lost concentration.
It took a sublime strike from Nicoli Parrington-Berski to settle the match as his shot following a penalty corner found its way into the top corner of the goal from a narrow angle with 10 minutes remaining. Bighton grabbed the final goal in the closing minutes but Lewes ran out deserved winners.
In the third XI Cup Final Lewes defeated Chichester 2-1. In a closely-fought contest neither side could break the deadlock in the first half, with Lewes keeper Joe Davis outstanding throughout.
In the second half Ollie Baxter scored from close range – and Lewes doubled the lead when, after a quick break, Harvey Waller crossed from the right wing for Baxter to get his and Lewes’ second.
With 10 minutes left, Chichester scored and despite a nail biting final minutes Lewes held on to win.
In the fourth XI final, Lewes lost 3-1 to a strong Brighton side. Chris Tonkin got the Lewes consolation in the second half.
Meanwhile, Lewes U18s finished as creditable runners-up at the end of the Mercian Home Counties Colts Hockey League Finals Day at Southgate Hockey Club on Sunday.
The team was much the same as last year which is a very young one with most boys 16 and under. They were without two key players, however: Harvey Waller, who had England training, and James Fuller, absent through injury following the U21 Sussex Cup Final success the day before.
The semi-finals draw saw Lewes meet Oxford Hawks and Bromley & Beckenham play Southgate.
Lewes came from two goals behind against Oxford to win thanks to goals from skipper Alex Tapping, Ollie Baxter, Alex Lloyd and Matt Hickman.
The Final against Southgate saw Lewes flagging as many of the boys had played in Sussex cup finals the day before in Chichester. Southgate were a well-drilled team and although Lewes at times showed the skill and drive that got them to Finals Day, they were finally beaten 4-1. Second place in this League was a great result and an improvement on last year’s fourth place.