Banbury Ladies storm to claim County Cup!
It was a successful start to the hockey season for Banbury Ladies as they cruised past their opposition to claim the Oxfordshire County Cup at Banbury Road North in Oxford in Saturday.
The Oxfordshire County Cup is the traditional curtain raiser for the hockey season and is usually organised on the weekend preceding the start of the league season so that teams can use it as part of their pre season activities. The event is played in a tournament format which involved playing 5 20 minute matches in a round robin format which means that teams need to be very switched on from the start and able to get into their flow quickly. Banbury also knew that they were going to have their work cut out as they we due to play 2 teams from the league above.
Despite having no pre-season matches up to this point Banbury showed that the patterns and tactical concepts that they had embedded in the previous season were still very much in evidence and it was also clear that the summer fitness work that many of the players had been doing had really paid off as Banbury looked extremely sharp from the start and were quickly into their stride playing their brand of skillful flowing hockey that has come to be their hallmark.
The 1st 2 games were against teams from the division above but they proved no match for Banbury as they cruised to beat Henley in the 1st game 2-0 and then followed this up straight after by beating Oxford Hawks 2-0. They then beat Oxford 1-0 and followed this up with an emphatic win against Wallingford 3-0 by which time they realised that with 12 points from 4 games and with all the other teams drawing that they had won the league with a game to go. After a long break Banbury struggled to get started in the final game against league rivals Witney and although they still dominated the game they were not able to overcome Witney’s early short corner goal and lost 1-0 to deny themselves a deserved clean sweep.
Coach Stuart Armstrong said after the tournament, “this was a really good test for us and shows how far the girls have come as a team. Despite not having the best preparation they were able to get back into the groove really quickly and we played some excellent hockey. Natasha Nunnely and Sadie Lapper have both been working hard during the summer and it has really paid off, their link play was irresistible at times and the opposition found them almost unplayable. I was really pleased with our new signings Mae Welch and Aveline Cruikshank who slotted into the system really quickly and our back line of Juliet Gardner and Becca Atkins looks extremely powerful despite them both being under the age of 20.”
Banbury now look forward to the league season with optimism and will entertain Sonning at North Oxford Academy this weekend. The match starts at 11.00am.