Two first-half goals saw Brighton and Hove fall to defeat at South Clubs Women's League title chasers Basingstoke on Saturday in an otherwise unremarkable match.
"The first five minutes Brighton held possession and made no unforced errors," reports skipper Amanda Billington. "Basingstoke realised they’d need to put more pressure on the ball carrier to gain possession. The game was then won in the next five minuites; a 3-on-1 with the keeper and an unfortunate deflection from a straight strike penalty corner.
"A very uninteresting game after this point except Brighton matching Basingstoke across the pitch with both teams having missed opportunities. Man of the match was Alice Heap."
The 2s have been in a season-long two-team battle for the leadership in the Sussex League premier division and their 3-1 home win over Chichester 2s keeps them level on points with Hailsham 1s with goal difference separating the teams.
"A tough encounter on a blustery day against our old rivals, Chi," reports captain Nivene Raafat. "We had put nine past them back in October but we knew we had to be fierce from the get-go if we wanted to get anywhere close to emulating our previous scoreline. We pressed high and moved the ball slickly across midfield, with Laura and Irish finding plenty of space to drive the ball forward.
"Amber, Becca and Sam made some promising inroads into the Chi 25, allowing Jo to put their keeper to the test within the first five minutes. Sadly, there would be no goal-fest this time around as, time and time again, we were unable to make that crucial final pass to our high forward. Then it was Chi’s turn to turn up the heat, with keeper Jess Harris making a vital save from a short corner just before half-time.
"After some choice words from Kenny, we started the second half with plenty of urgency, determined not to walk away on the losing end of an encounter with Chi! Hannah L and Hannah E pushed up along the right to allow Amber to make her trademark runs, while Sumi made some daring runs of her own down the left, winning us a handful of shorts.
"We finally broke the deadlock after a bullet of a shot from Jo Whiting went in off two Chi defenders (technically an OG, but she’s claiming it!). There could be no doubt about the second though: a superb run down the right by player of the match Amber, who set Jo up to calmly slot it in high and wide to the keeper’s right with her first touch.
"We kept up the pressure and were eventually rewarded with another goal, this time from the powerhouse that is Redders: a beautifully worked move saw Sam thread a splendid pass to the back post where Redders pushed it home (her first goal since last March!). Chi kept fighting hard and took some nasty hits from a few stray Brighton balls. We lost our focus slightly towards the end, but Chi didn’t, working the ball around our defence as if they weren’t there and popping the ball over the line in the dying seconds.
"Some areas to improve on but a solid team performance and plenty of positivity on the pitch."
Brighton, like Hailsham, have only dropped five points all season but are six goals worse off. The two teams meet on February 23.
The 3s produced a tremendous rearguard action in gaining a 1-1 draw against fourth-placed Horsham 3s.
Christine Cawte reports: "The 3s travelled to Horsham on Saturday with eyes on climbing the league table following our double draws in the two previous weeks. An unexpected river flooding two country roads leading to Horsham left Christine and Vaughan (in possession all the balls, masks, bibs etc) precariously driving through the ford and sprinting onto the pitch five minutes after push back was due to begin.
"However, this lack of warm up did not affect our game with the first 15 minutes seeing the 3s putting continuous pressure on Horsham with quick, accurate passes and excellent link up. This was soon to be rewarded by the conversion of a short corner; Beth right-slipped a pass to Postie whose strike soared to the back board. 1-0.
"Horsham came back fighting and used their experience to claw a goal back before the half time whistle. 1-1. Both teams felt this was either team's game as the second half began; our A-game had clearly rocked Horsham’s expectations and the second half saw Horsham tightening up their marking and passes. The pressure was now on us.
"To the rescue was our amazing defensive line who acted as a wall preventing over 15 short corners and denying any chance of another goal. Joint MoM Vaughan in defence and Emily Kennard in goal took every opportunity to ensure Horsham could not convert their barrage of shots with both providing outstanding saves and clearances. Close behind in the stakes for MoM were our junior players, Maia, Afra and Ciara, who all gave 100 per cent and piled pressure on the experienced players of Horsham with tackles, skill and channelling.
"At the final whistle, the 3s were happy with a 1-1 draw which ensured another point was added to our total and once again we left the pitch feeling like 2019 has cemented us as a team. Although, not quite enough to all get an invite to Wan’s house party…"
Ellie Hehir was left bemused after the 4s went down 5-1 to Burgess Hill 2s, who moved above them into fourth place in division one as a result.
"Sometimes after hockey I have to ease my weary body into the bath and think oh my why was that so stressful?! Today the Fours had a beautiful line up of skilled determined players but something didn't quite click," she reports.
"First half, Molly got a beautiful goal and, even when Burgess Hill got another two, there was no questioning that we'd pull it out the bag eventually. Unhappily, someone tied a ruddy double knot and try as we might we couldn't get that bag open. Heads dropped, enthusiasm and energy were waiting for us at home/the bar/the Alps.
"It was, and I am biased, a beautiful game of hockey but we let them squeeze by us too many times and, with their power being upfront, their goals were, unhappily, inevitable. But hey ho! We beat them the first time round and after our ridiculous scoreline in the last game this was just a game where that je ne sais quoi was missing. Onwards and upwards for next week!
In the same division, the 5s were never at the races as they went down 3-0 at home to Horsham, according to Drinky.
"It was all about race night really and that is all that matters. We had a late game so we were a little slow out the trap. Their jockeys were a little lighter and younger so although we had run this track several times and worn the winning rosette in the past we couldn’t quite clear every hurdle.
"The team as always gave it their all, they were relentless and every single player gave it 100 per cent. You cannot fault our effort but it just wasn’t going to be our day. The home stretch was too far.
"Horsham were the front runner from early on. Their wild stallions took control of the game and we just could not keep up on our Shetland ponies. As the game grew the odds stacked against us. Horsham were chomping at the bit and we were restricted by our blinkers. This was not going to be a photo finish nor is it a time for us to retire.
"Horsham got the better of us but we will focus on previous matches and build from them. We know we can play better and we will. Back to the trainer and the stable hand we go. The derby is fast approaching."
The women’s 6s took the short trip to Steyning grammar this week to beat Southwick 2-1 with goals from Rosie H. And Aisha.
Arriving in the pouring rain, 6s were delighted to have Karen filling the goal, with promises not to make her too busy. Thank you again to Karen for stepping up!
The first half was a battle, with opportunities for Brighton, but with Southwick filling their defending d, no goal came.
The opposition were awarded a short corner in the first half, which after a missed initial shot, eventually got pushed into the goal. After half time 6s came back hungry for a win after last weeks spectacular play. Laura from defence made some amazing runs which cut the Southwick passes out before they could make a break. Then GOAL FROM GARY! Or was it? A wonderful shot from Rosie, a ball over the white line and a disagreement of umpires. The more experienced umpire called the goal and 6s were equal again and ready for more.
Powerful play from the 6s led to a knee high cross from Anah into the D which was deflected in by Aisha. 2-1! Southwick were held off until the final whistle for a brilliant 2-1 win for Brighton. Man of the match went to Aisha for the winning goal.
Dick of the Day went to Larna for confusing her left and right and ending up on the wrong side of the pitch! Honorable mentions to Helen and Chloe for running rings around Southwick in midfield and Anah for a great return to hockey!
Meanwhile, in Division 3, the 7s made it 14 goals in two games with a thumping 9-0 win over Worthing 3s.
"For the second week in a row the super 7s have brought home a win. It was an early sunny start in Worthing, but that didn’t slow us down! We came out firing, securing nine goals in our first half. Goals were scored by Quita, Lucy, Nancy, Karen, Emily, Hazel, and Nat.
"Once again, the team pulled together neatly, passing accurately, defending well, and scoring with confidence. Our second half saw us tire a little, but we fought hard and held off all attempts at goal by Worthing. MoM went to everyone for a superb team effort!"