It’s relief for Chi’s Pacey as Buccaneers take the title
Conference West round-up
CHICHESTER’S director of hockey Mark Pacey is determined to avoid another relegation dogfight next year, after just escaping the dreaded playoffs as Team Bath Buccaneers won the Conference West.
The relief was there for all to see at the final whistle at Kingsham as a 5-0 victory for Chichester over Old Georgians, and a 5-3 defeat for Fareham to University of Birmingham, saw them to safety.
Instead, it will be Fareham who will be heading into the relegation play-off after Simon Tremlett’s 68th-minute penalty corner earned Isca a vital 1-1 draw at relegated University of Bristol.
Having started the afternoon in seventh, Fareham saw Isca and Chichester jump above them on the final day.
At the other end of the table, a comprehensive 7-0 win for the Buccaneers secured the title and sent them into the promotion play-offs alongside Sevenoaks, Canterbury and Durham University.
The result in Chichester was rarely in doubt after the opening ten minutes as the relegationthreatened hosts raced into a 3-0 lead with a blistering start.
Alex Pendle got the ball rolling when he stormed inside the D and fired a thunderbolt into the top right corner after just two minutes, and Luke Emmett doubled the lead soon after.
Alex Thakore made it three after seven minutes when he cut in from the right and fired a bullet home, before Andrew Sparshott and Ollie Baxter added their names to the scoresheet.
And after their fourth win of the campaign saw them to safety, Pacey admitted his players were looking forward to a wellearned rest over the summer.
“They were elated at the final whistle, they are grateful and thankful that the season has come to the end. It’s only 18 games but it’s gruelling,” Pacey said.
“They were very, very happy; they got themselves out of a horrible spot and I know that everyone, this year, is looking forward to a break.
“The side was nervous but they had been there before so they knew what they had to do. They had to win and rely on the other sides not getting the win, and, as it happened, neither did.
“We got what we deserved. We were really up for it and were 3-0 up in seven minutes. I think, in fairness, Old Georgians were there to play the season out.
“But we needed the win, took the game straight to them and were in control for the whole game. Five-nil was probably about right and their keeper kept it down to that.”
For champions Bath, Adam Croutear scored a hat-trick and Ben Stone added two while Will Hewer and Stuart Rushmere also netted as they eased past Cheltenham to top the league.
It meant there was nothing that Cardiff & Met could do as they fought back from 4-2 down to salvage a 4-4 draw away at University of Exeter with two successful penalty corners.
Mark Loughrey, Edward Matts and Max Heaver had put the hosts 3-1 up with Jack Pritchard replying for Cardiff & Met.
Ben Carless saw his penalty corner cancelled out by Ben Francis’ penalty stroke, but two more penalty corners within a minute of each other for Owain Dolan Gray and Luke Hawker earned Cardiff a draw.
University of Birmingham sneaked up to fourth with a 5-3 victory over Fareham as they replied to Chris Davey’s opener with three of their own to lead after 21 minutes.
Robert Wilson pulled one back for Fareham but penalty corners from George Sweeting and Jack Clee made the game save for the Midlands side before James Evans’ consolation.