Buckingham nearing their best form ahead of title showdown

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Buckingham head coach Zak Jones believes his side are nearing their best form at just the right time as they remain hot on the heels of this weekend’s opponents, Conference West leaders Stourport, ahead of the final four games of the campaign.

Following on from their first two wins of 2017, a comfortable 3-0 victory at ISCA and a tight 1-0 success at home against Trojan, Buckingham continued their good work with successive wins over Swansea and Exe this week.

“It was a very positive weekend where the girls put in two good performances in contrasting matches,” commented Jones afterwards.

“It was also pleasing that we were able to perform so well with a couple of players missing as it showed that we are developing our depth.”

Up first at the weekend was long-time rivals Swansea.

With Abbie Brant back from injury but missing Zoe Shipperley, who was in South Africa on England duty, and ever-reliable defender Frankie Scott away on work, this was always going to be a stern test.

After a slow start, however, Buckingham grew into the game and got the better of both possession and territory.

With the home side’s central midfield players, captain Kitty Higgins, Katrina Nicholson and player of the match Alex Naughalty, outstanding in midfield, Buckingham created a number of openings.

Eventually, on 32 minutes, they made the breakthrough. A fine long pass from Nicholson found Brant in the circle and she showed superb skill and tight control to round a couple of defenders and the goalkeeper before firing the ball into the net for a deserved half-time advantage.

The second period was a cagey affair but despite failing to take one of several opportunities to add to make it a more comfortable afternoon, Buckingham’s lead rarely came under threat and they deservedly held on for all three points.

Just 24 hours later, they made the long trip to Exeter to take on bottom side Exe.

After surviving some nervy moments early on, Buckingham were quickly into their stride and forced the home side to defend deep for long periods, creating several chances without success.

Good goalkeeping and a lack of composure kept the game goalless but a fine run from Nicholson saw Tash James pounce on a rebound to give the visitors a much-deserved at half-time.

The second-half followed a similar pattern and two goals within three minutes from Brant and then Storm Sunderland made the result safe and kept Buckingham level on points with Stourport, whom they face this weekend.

Jones added: “This Saturday we have a huge evening game away against Stourport who lead us by goal difference.

“We know that it will be a tough, tight physical encounter as it was the last time the sides met at Stowe.

“After long lay-off over Christmas and a disjointed pre-season and start to the campaign due to poor weather, I feel like we’re coming back into form at the right time.

“We will be working hard in training this week land are very much looking forward to the challenge we know Saturday will present.”