Chichester secured their England Hockey League status for another year – but will want to ensure they don’t have such a late-season Eastern Conference drama next year.
They travelled to Brighton & Hove for their Survival Sunday showdown, knowing a win would all but guarantee another year playing at national level.
Chichester started well with early chances but failed to capitalise on early pressure. Brighton started to get more of the ball and their pressure resulted in a penalty stroke. Luckily keeper Maciej Pacanowski was on top form and saved it.
Brighton continued to break with pace. After lax defending down the left, Brighton escaped the tackles and Pacanowski was left with no chance as Joe Naughalty fired the hosts into the lead six minutes before the break.
Chichester did well to the weather the storm with Pacanowski excelling, making yet another excellent save from a penalty stroke (his ninth of the season) after confusion in the D resulting in a stroke being awarded and the unlucky Kiran Henn being shown a yellow card.
Chi regrouped at half-time knowing they had 35 minutes to save their status. The second half was scrappy with Brighton happy to counter against Chi as they pushed for an equaliser.
After good work from the Chichester midfield, a penalty corner was awarded and expertly converted by Oli Baxter, making up for several misses during the game.
With their tails up chi pushed for winner and after some more good saves from the Brighton keeper, a combination of Alex Pendle and Alex Baxter brought the teenager the vital second goal.
In the last minutes Chi showed the effort and desire required to see out the game, despite a yellow card for Pendle and an injury to captain marvel Alex Thakore.
So Chichester survive another year – knowing they need to learn the lessons to make sure they don’t leave it so late next season.
They finished the season fourth from bottom, but only one point above Old Georgians, who will face off in the Conference play-offs.
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