Superb Buckingham clinch fourth straight league title

Jo Ellis and Kitty Higgins celebrate as Buckingham beat Isca and win the league title
Jo Ellis and Kitty Higgins celebrate as Buckingham beat Isca and win the league title

Buckingham Ladies Hockey Club have clinched the Investec Conference West title for the fourth year in succession after a 3-0 victory at Isca.

The win puts Buckingham four points clear of second-placed Slough with one game remaining and secures their place in the end-of-season play-offs, where they will face sides from the Conference North and Conference East as well as the Premier Division in a battle for promotion to the top tier of English hockey.

Buckingham made the long trip to Exeter knowing any kind of victory would be enough to win the title and they showed intent from the off, quickly gaining the ascendency to put the home side under increasing pressure, which eventually told in the 19th minute when some fine play from Player of the Match Alex Naughalty set up Jo Ellis to score from a penalty corner.

With a 1-0 cushion, the Buckingham nerves began to ease and they quickly doubled their lead through Naughalty’s close range strike.

Though Buckingham continued to play some fine attacking hockey and created a number of other good opportunities, they could not extend their lead before half-time.

As in the first half, Buckingham began on the front food from the restart and they all but secured victory and the league title when Ellis claimed her second five minutes into the half. A mix of good defending and goalkeeping kept Buckingham out for the remainder of the match, but victory had already been assured along with the league title to complete another outstanding season.

Buckingham will now look ahead to the play-offs, which see the winners of the three Conferences plus the ninth-placed Premier Division side battle it out with two places in the top division up for grabs.

This Sunday Buckingham turn their attention to the Investec Cup semi-finals as they host Premier Division side Surbiton, who will bring a number of London 2012 bronze medallists to Stowe School for the 12-pm kick-off.

Buckingham also play their final league match of the regular season at home to Gloucester on Saturday.