Buckingham head coach Zak Jones praised the character and resilience of his side after their potentially decisive 2-0 victory at title rivals Stourport, a win which takes them top of the Conference West.
Stourport and Buckingham have been in a two-way fight for the title for much of the campaign, and now it’s the Stowe-based side who have taken control, leading by three points with three games to go.
“I am really proud of the performance,” beamed Jones.
“Stourport are a very good side, they have been scoring lots of goals, they are physical, organised and we had to deal with the evening game and the large and vocal home support.
“The girls seemed to relish the challenge and executed superbly. Although we didn’t necessarily play our best hockey, we stayed calm under pressure and showed immense character and resilience, which was epitomised by Kitty Higgins who played on despite suffering a badly fractured and split finger early on.
“Whilst we are delighted with the win and obviously it’s great be top of the league, we are keeping our feet firmly on the floor as we realise we have three tough, must-win games to go, starting with Gloucester at home this Saturday.”
In front of vociferous home support, plus a loyal band of travelling fans, Buckingham were fast out of the blocks and almost had the lead in 30 seconds when Abbie Brant forced a fine save from the keeper.
Stourport responded well and shaded much of a high-pace, physical first-half, but the visitors remained calm and grew into the contest before striking the crucial first blow through Tash James, who scrambled in after a well-worked Buckingham attack.
That was enough to give the visitors a lead going into half-time, and they had to withstand a period of Stourport pressure to maintain their advantage in the second-half after defender Lauren Thomas was temporarily suspended.
Goalkeeper Ella Jackson and her defence held firm, and that proved critical when a fantastic passing move and a beautifully-weighted through ball found Brant who rounded the keeper and made it 2-0.
There was still time for Stourport to apply pressure but Jackson was in unbeatable form and her player of the match effort ensured victory.