Buckingham set to resume league campaign

Buckingham captain Zoe Shipperley (captain)
Buckingham captain Zoe Shipperley (captain)

Buckingham head coach Zak Jones says his side are looking forward to restarting their Investec Premier Division campaign when take on Canterbury this weekend.

Buckingham concluded their preparations for the second half of the season with a double-header against Slough and East Grinstead at the weekend, and they will now resume their fight against relegation with a home match against third-placed Canterbury at Stowe this Saturday at 12pm.

Jones said: “Given the disruption the weather has caused to our team training, I was really pleased with the two performances against two very good sides.

“The girls are looking fresh and sharp and are moving the ball with a real fluency and accuracy, which bodes well for the resumption of the league.

“Our first three games are hugely important – we start our campaign with two of the top three at home, followed by another crucial game away against bottom side Beeston.

“We are under no illusions as to the challenge all three side present but the squad are really looking forward to getting back into the week on week intensity of the Investec Premier League.”

Following on from the previous weekend’s comfortable 4-0 win against East Conference side Wimbledon, which saw goals for Mo Mclellan, Leanne Grimsley, Ella Cusack and Jess Bloom, Buckingham continued their pre-season preparations on Saturday when they made the trip to a Slough side who currently sit eight points clear at the top of the West Conference table.

Having been unable to train as a group for the last two weeks due to frozen pitches, the fixture took on even more importance ahead of the resumption of the league this weekend but despite making a bright start, Buckingham trailed 1-0 at half-time.

The visitors continued to enjoy the better of the play in the second half and eventually they were rewarded when Zoe Shipperley’s late goal earned them a deserved draw.

Next up, on Sunday, Buckingham hosted another side flying high, this time East Grinstead, who are six points clear in the East Conference.

However, it was the hosts who played with pace, fluency and quality as they raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to Shipperly‘s brace and one from Grimsley.

A drop in tempo from Buckingham then allowed the visitors back into the game with two quick goals, but the hosts reaffirmed their quality in the second half and well-executed team goals from Amie Hone and Jaz Needham helped Buckingham ease to a fully deserved 5-2 victory.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old starlet Kirsty Freshwater, who has been playing regular first team hockey for Buckingham this season, has been named in the final England U16 squad.