Buckingham gave their hopes of surviving their debut season in the Investec Premier Division a huge boost when they edged to a nail-biting 1-0 win away at bottom side Beeston.
Lying in the relegation zone at the start of play, Buckingham knew nothing but victory would suffice against a Beeston team whose only point this season came in the reverse fixture between the two sides.
Buckingham dominated much of the game and deservedly led through Leanne Grimsley’s second half goal, but the visitors had to withstand some heavy Beeston pressure in a tense finish before they could claim a precious victory that moves them out of the bottom two.
Head coach Zak Jones said: “While it was not our best performance, it was a hugely important result and I was immensely pleased with the character and resilience the girls showed in such a pressured environment.
“We played very well in patches but understandably, given the magnitude of the game, also looked nervy at times. I was also pleased with our ability to adapt our tactics and shape throughout the game and by the fact that we showed we had taken on-board the lessons of the cup game by managing the tense closing stages extremely well.”
Buckingham wasted little time in asserting their authority but they were constantly thwarted by the outstanding home goalkeeper, who produced a number of fine saves in a frustrating first half.
Two chances came and went in the first two minutes for Buckingham before Zoe Shipperley was unable to convert two penalty corners, while at the other end, Anna Searle made a fine intervention to stop a rare Beeston attack as the half ended goalless.
Buckingham regained control of the game after half-time and finally made the all-important breakthrough when good play from Jess Bloom left Grimsley through on goal and she calmly rounded the keeper before slotting home.
Despite further chances, Buckingham were unable to extend the lead due to a combination of excellent goalkeeping and poor decision-making, which left them vulnerable in the closing stages as the hosts poured forward and applied sustained pressure on the visitors’ goal, but Searle and her defence stood firm to see out a tense final few minutes.
The win sees Buckingham climb above Bowdon and into safety ahead of this weekend’s home game against second-placed Clifton.