Buckingham suffer play-off heartbreak again

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Buckingham suffered heartbreak for the second year in a row as they again missed out on promotion to the Premier League by goal difference.

Having travelled to Reading Hockey Club, Buckingham faced Conference North champions Beeston Saturday knowing a win would all but secure promotion.

In a fast and open game, both teams looked to play attacking hockey with Buckingham enjoying the better of the opening exchanges.

But things began to fall apart for Buckingham as, first, they were controversially reduced to 10 players before, on the stroke of half time, a fortunate deflection from a speculative strike opened the scoring for Beeston 30 seconds before half time.

Determined to strike back, Buckingham began the second half superbly and were only denied by a fine save from the Beeston goalkeeper.

However, a second fortuitous goal doubled Beeston’s lead and they sealed the win with a third despite some good goalkeeping from Anna Searle had kept out the initial shot.

The defeat meant Buckingham needed to beat Olton by three goals or more on Sunday in order to gain promotion.

Despite conceding an early goal, Buckingham were the better side throughout the first half and deservedly went into the break level after Zoe Shipperley’s strike.

Buckingham came out firing in the second half, desperate to give themselves a chance and they put constant pressure onto Olton to create numerous opportunities that were thwarted by the Olton defence and goalkeeper.

Finally the breakthrough arrived when, seven minutes from full time, Lorraine Campbell tapped the ball into the net at the far post.

Sensing their chance, Buckingham piled forward and frantically went after two further goals but it wasn’t to be as they won the match 2-1 but failed to gain promotion to the National Premier Division on goal difference after finishing on six points in the group, level with Beeston and Olton.

Despite the heartbreak, Buckingham were keen to stress their pride of the club’s performance as well as the huge support they receive – they took the most amount of fans to the play-offs despite being the smallest club.