Buckingham head coach, Zak Jones, felt his side once again proved they’ve got what it takes to compete at the highest level of English hockey despite their defeat to Reading.
Looking to back up last week’s first ever win in the Investec Premier Division, Buckingham travelled to Reading on Saturday in optimistic mood but the home side proved too strong in a 3-1 victory.
Jones said afterwards: “It was another really pleasing performance. We were up against a good side who have a number of world class players but we gave as good as we got and proved once again that we are able to compete - and not just survive - at this level.
“On reflection, Reading probably edged the contest but we didn’t get the rub of the green and couple of key decisions didn’t go our way but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“We just accept that and move on, and look forward to the next challenge which is Canterbury away.”
With both sides playing a high pressing, high tempo, attacking game, the opening quarter was played at a frenetic pace but while both sides created openings, clear-cut chances were at a premium.
That all changed on 16 minutes, however, as the home side broke the deadlock from their first penalty corner when Great Britain international Emily Maguire’s strike found the bottom corner.
The Buckingham response was almost immediate as inspirational captain Zoe Shipperley’s fine long ball found Sam Sandham and her pass saw Katrina Nicholson tap home just three minutes later.
The next ten minutes saw battle for midfield supremacy. Player of the match Kitty Higgins was in outstanding form as Buckingham’s midfield went toe to toe against the home sides international line up, but the visitors’ failure to capitalise on two penalty corners came back to haunt them when England’s Alex Danson went on a mazy run and slotted home to put Reading into a 2-1 half-time lead.
Buckingham made a bright start to the second half as both sides enjoyed periods of pressure without creating too much in the way of goalscoring chances.
With just six minutes to go, Buckingham found themselves on the wrong end of a hotly-contested decision that gifted reading their fifth and final penalty corner.
Anna Searle saved the first shot and then the initial rebound, but it was Danson again who found the net at the third attempt with a diving finish from close range.
Though Buckingham pushed hard in the final five minutes and created a couple of opportunities, the match ended 3-1.
This week, the side make the long trip to last season’s runners-up Canterbury.