Bicester M2s’ MBBO Division Five promotion hopes are hanging by a thread following a disastrous 1-1 draw at home to relegation-threatened Aylesbury IIIs.
The result leaves Bicester in third place, four points adrift of Reading University Knights and, although they have a game in hand, they are now reliant on the students dropping points in one of their remaining two fixtures if they are to have any chance of claiming the runners up spot.
Bicester dominated from start to finish in a game that saw their 10-man opponents muster only two attempts on goal. But a brilliant display from the visiting keeper combined with some wayward finishing denied them maximum points.
It was one way traffic from the outset and Bicester might have gone ahead in the first minute when Pete Oram turned a right wing cross goalwards, only to see it well saved by the Aylesbury goalkeeper. This was to set the tone for the rest of the game.
The home side had plenty of possession but all too often were guilty of trying to force things with long balls forward to strikers Oram and Ben Kirk, whose threat was quickly snuffed out by the Aylesbury back line before the midfield could get up in support.
Ten minutes before the break a rare Aylesbury attack led to their first penalty corner. Somehow the ball was bundled past a despairing Nick Harding into the Bicester goal and the visitors had a shock lead.
Bicester played with more composure and intelligence in the second period, moving the ball around the pitch and creating chance after chance. But Aylesbury’s dogged defence stood firm until midway through the half when Bicester finally capitalised on a penalty corner, Kirk smashing the ball home to level the scores.
And ten minutes before the end, they were a centimetre from grabbing the winner when Kirk again drove home from a penalty corner, only for his effort to be adjudged fractionally too high.
Bicester still had chances for victory, including two two-on-one situations, but the man in the Aylesbury goal refused to be beaten more than once and the points were shared.
Meanwhile, Bicester L1s defied the odds with a fantastic 3-2 win at Bracknell in Trysports Premier One.
The visitors were ahead as early as the fifth minute when a lightning quick run from Ella West found Emma Gordon, who swept the ball into the back of the net.
Within 10 minutes Bicester doubled their lead as Sheryl Philpott found Lydia Harris for a second goal before Philpott added a third to put her side into a 3-0 half-time lead.
Inevitably, Bicester came under pressure from a much-improved Bracknell side in the second half as the home side clawed their way back to 3-2, but some frantic last-ditch defending from Hannah Newell (pictured) and Corin Scott saw the visitors eek out an excellent victory.