Highflying Ladies see off Gloucester threat

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Buckingham Ladies 1sts 4

Gloucester 2

Buckingham swept to a hard-fought win over Gloucester at Stowe last Saturday to maintain top spot in the league.

With Gloucester as the only other unbeaten team in their league, Buckingham prepared well for what they knew would be a tough test. Buckingham made the ideal start to the game when, following a fantastic passing move in the 10th minute, the home side earned a penalty corner.

Jo Weston’s initial powerful shot was saved by the keeper but striker Jess Bloom was first to react and calmly slipped the ball to Sam Sandham who finished from close range.

Just four minutes later, a Buckingham foul was deemed to have taken place inside their 25 and a penalty corner was awarded. Gloucester converted thanks to an unfortunate deflection to level the scores.

After half time, despite Buckingham dominating the opening encounters, it was Gloucester who broke the deadlock in the 45th minute,scoring from a rebound at only their second penalty corner of the game.

The home side however, showed discipline and a steely determination and continued to play their high paced and expansive game, confident they would get their rewards.

Despite a further four penalty corners the equaliser eluded Buckingham until the 57th minute when Bloom deflected a well-executed corner past the Gloucester keeper.

Not content with a draw Buckingham maintained their work rate and commitment and with just eight minutes remaining Lauren Thomas, expertly converted Buckingham’s ninth corner of the game. With the home side now in the ascendancy, in the last minute of the game, Buckingham’s ‘most valuable player’, Tracy Jones, found Bloom in the circle whose cross was deflected by Lorraine Campbell and when the Gloucester keeper saved the initial shot, Anita Bazini was on hand to slot the rebound in, giving Buckingham a deserved 4-2 win.

The result means Buckingham have maintained their six-point lead at the top of England Hockey’s Investec League West.

On Saturday they make the long away journey to Exeter to face third-placed ISCA before returning home on Sunday for their last 16 cup tie against Brooklands Poynton.

Buckingham’s Cup match will take place at Stowe School on Sunday at 12noon and the squad welcomes all support.

Buckingham Ladies 2nds 3

Bicester 0

Buckingham Ladies 2nd XI travelled to Bicester to contest their seventh league game of the season. Being unbeaten to date in Trysports Division 3 meant Buckingham’s reputation seemingly preceded them.

A frantic start saw Buckingham win the first short corner of the game within the first two minutes, but failed to score. Repeated short corner attempts without success left Buckingham questioning their luck in the D.

Near misses by many of the team became increasingly frustrating with notable attempts from Jaz Needham hitting the ball over the crossbar and Ella Cusack deflecting the ball wide.

While Buckingham appeared to dominate possession, the score remained 0-0 and Bicester stayed determined. Finally Buckingham overcame their spell of bad luck when Sophie Tuckett put the ball in the back of the net in the 25th minute. Repeated battling left Buckingham in unfamiliar territory at the half time whistle, being only 1-0 up.

In the second half Buckingham came back stronger, passing more clinically but still the Bicester defence held strong.

Andrea Freshwater struggled to get the ball past the Bicester keeper but remained dominant in the attacking line.

Tuckett took the score to 2-0 after just three minutes having stepped through in open play. Some improved composure and discipline in the latter stages of the second half enabled both teams to play some more effective hockey. Buckingham’s woman of the match Bethan Ellis showed great pace to further test the Bicester defence, but once again without success.

A third open play goal for Tuckett enabled an exhausted Buckingham to finally secure their victory in the closest contest of the season.

Buckingham will continue their league challenge this Saturday against Phoenix and Ranalegh at Stowe.