Bloom strikes late to rescue vital victory for title-chasing Buckingham

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Buckingham LHC’s first team resumed the second half of their Investec Conference West campaign with a gritty 2-1 win away at fifth-placed Trojans.

The visitors had to come from a goal down and needed a late Jess Bloom strike to seal three crucial points that keep Buckingham a point clear of Slough at the top of the table.

Having made the long trip down to Southampton, Buckingham expected a tough encounter and so it proved as, in blustery conditions, the visitors began sluggishly and struggled to find any rhythm despite enjoying plenty of possession.

The hosts always looked a threat on the counter-attack and although Buckingham showed more urgency as the half wore on, it was Trojans who broke the deadlock on 29 minutes when a poorly-timed tackle by Leanne Grimsley resulted in a temporary suspension and a penalty corner for Trojans.

Although the initial shot was heading wide, a deflection saw the ball somehow creep into the net to give the hosts a slender half-time lead.

Following some stern words at half time, Buckingham came out with far more intensity and desire in the second period as they upped the tempo and quality of their performance to take control of the contest.

The increasing pressure told eight minutes into the half when Jo Ellis dispatched a penalty corner to level the scores and from that moment on there only looked one winner.

But despite creating a number of good chances while also having a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed, it appeared the game would end level, until three minutes from time when Buckingham Player of the Match Jess Bloom smashed home Lorraine Campbell’s cross to keep Buckingham firmly in the race for the title.

This weekend is a huge one for the local side with a league and cup double-header.

On Saturday, they take on third-placed Oxford Hawks in what will be another massive game at the top of the Conference West table, while on Sunday, Premier Division outfit Sutton Coldfield are the visitors to Stowe School for the quarter-finals of the Investec Cup. Both games kick-off at 12pm.