Leaders Buckingham set to resume title tilt

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Following the completion of the indoor leagues, Buckingham LHC’s first team have been back outdoors preparing for the restart of the league season this weekend.

Buckingham, looking to gain promotion to the highest level of English hockey, currently top the Investec Conference West table by a point from Slough ahead of tomorrow’s trip to fifth-placed Trojans.

First team coach Zac Jones said: “It’s a really tough league this season. A lot of strong sides have come in and made it a lot more competitive but it’s been a positive season for us.

“We’ve lost a couple of games that we felt we should have won but we’ve played really well since those defeats and we’re getting better.

“In the last couple of seasons we felt we’ve only needed to perform close to our best to win the league and then the play-offs are a lottery, but to just win the league is a lot tougher this season. If we can win the league we feel we’ll be a lot more prepared this year.”

Following on from their Division Two indoor success in December, Buckingham took part in Division One over the first two weekends of January. Despite the disappointment of finishing joint-third and narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League, it was a positive two weekends for the squad, with one of the highlights coming in an impressive 6-4 win over a Surbiton side containing five current Great Britain & England internationals.

Buckingham’s pre-season then began with a 2-0 win over East Conference side Wimbledon thanks to goals from Fiona Farley and Katrina Nicholson, before they defeated another team in the same division, East Grinstead, 5-2.

A superb first half display saw the home side race into a 4-0 lead courtesy of some free-flowing attacking hockey with the goals coming from Sam Sandham, Anita Bazini, Nicholson and Farley. Despite a disjointed second half, Buckingham ended up as comfortable winners as Lorraine Campbell struck the final goal.

The pre-season campaign finished with a 3-0 win over Harleston Magpies. Jess Bloom scored twice while Alex Naughalty bagged the other.

These outdoor results have been especially pleasing for the squad, given that this has all been achieved without captain Zoe Shipperley, who has been away on England Indoor duty where she earned her first senior caps and is currently on a training camp in California with Great Britain and England that will not see her return until after first two league games and the cup ¼ final on February 16.