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Ladies 1s Vs Haslemere 1s - Saturday 19 March 2022

Best team performance of the season?

Banbury HC Ladies 1s - 4, Haslemere Ladies 1s - 3

The reverse fixture at Haslemere on 27/11 saw Storm Arwen blowing a hooley and making the whole day a bit miserable; today on other hand was like a summer’s day. What a contrast! Would the result be equally contrasting, I wonder? We were a bit short on availability, probably in the main due to the late push back time, which was to accommodate Halsemere travelling so far, but after a good set of recent results, the ladies were feeling good.

Haslemere came flying out the traps as soon as the whistle sounded, and before Banbury knew what had happened, a slick passing move up the pitch and into the D, saw Haslemere fire the ball into the net. One Nil in the first 30 seconds! Could the ladies regroup?

Haslemere were on a high and continued to press Banbury, but the home team were determined

not to let this poor start get them down. There was still 69 minutes to go!! Still, Sammy Bates was forced into a couple of good saves in the next few minutes, keeping the score to just one. Could Banbury weather THIS Haslemere storm (not storm Arwen). Slowly but surely, Banbury started to get into it, and they broke upfield a few times themselves and for the next 15 minutes or so the game ebbed and flowed with chances coming for both teams. The Haslemere passing and movement was something to watch and the Banbury ladies were being tested to the max in trying to keep them at bay, but they did, and on 24 mins, Banbury won a short. In the past, the team have been guilty of wasting many of their hard-won short corners, but not this time. Vic Coombs with a lovely drag, saw her effort end up in the back of the net. One All.

Despite Haslemere’s superior numbers (they were sub'ing right left and centre), the Banbury ladies were playing cohesively and playing for each other, and this teamwork seemed to be playing off.

After 29 minutes, Libby Haden made one of her many runs up the wing, dribbling past a number of players, she passed to Flora in the D, who made a sublime spin and shot at the same time – right past the goalie who didn’t see it coming. Two One Banbury. The large home support were ecstatic.

Banbury were playing some good stuff but were beginning to look tired as the end of the first half approached, and Haslemere were still right in it – and looked ever so dangerous with the ball.

Half time gave the ladies a much-earned rest and after a quick pep talk from Becca and a “let’s have more of the same” from me, they went out for another hard 35 minutes. It wasn’t long before Haslemere were pressing again and within the first 5 minutes, they had broken into our D and forced Sammy into a quite fantastic triple save. I’m wondering if failing to score from that attack would perhaps perplex and put Haslemere off, but no, as the next 5 minutes saw them attack ferociously, looking for an equaliser. But, of course, this did leave gaps, and on 43 minutes, after a beautiful break by Vic (Pagey) Coombs, the ball found Charlotte Bolland, who still had it all to do, but she had her shooting boots on and rifled a fantastic shot past the goalie who had no chance. Three One Banbury! Goodness, leading against one of the league's top sides. Could the ladies do it?

It was still end to end. On 48 minutes, we saw Pagey dribble past just about the whole Haslemere team, and we ended up with a short as a result, but nothing came of this one, unfortunately. Back came Haslemere into the Banbury D and on 50 minutes, after some brave defending by Libby, who made a lovely block, the resultant rebound hit Banbury feet, from which Haslemere received a short of their own. Their effort missed but came back out from the post (it could have gone anywhere), and they were first to the ball, putting it into the net. Three two!

Lots of Haslemere pressure followed and Banbury just had to soak it up, and hang on now. On 55

minutes, Haslemere pressure earned them another short, and after a couple of nice passes in the D, they fired the ball home. Oh no. Three all, and Haslemere in the ascendency – or that’s what the nervy audience thought!

Where Banbury ladies found their determination and energy is anyone’s guess. Perhaps, Zoe Young, who some think has Duracell batteries (other batteries are of course available) powering her, was just one example of how ALL the ladies were determined to leave nothing on the pitch. On 63 minutes, after one of her powering runs up the pitch from the midfield, she earned Banbury another short corner. Would Banbury mix it up? No, straight to Pagey, who dragged another straight into the goal. Their goalie had no chance. Four three Banbury! The bench (me and Molly) and the crowd, exploded into celebration. What heart, what courage, what a game!!

The last five minutes saw Banbury still playing good hockey, looking for another opening, which in turn pushed Haslemere back and made them nervy about coming forward. They did make a couple of forays into the Banbury danger zone in the last few minutes of the game, but whereas in the past, we may have panicked a little bit, calm heads ensured that the ball flew right back up into, and past the Haslemere goal line, making them start right from the back each time. The final few seconds were managed well and the whistle went. Four three Banbury. Having beaten Salisbury two weeks ago, and now Haslemere, Banbury have recently beaten two of the top four teams in the league.

The players voted Libby Haden as MVP.

“It’s difficult to put into words how well the team played today. Sometimes we use the phrase

that there were 12 MVP’s on the pitch, but in the case of today’s match, that is absolutely the

case. The ladies ALL gave 110% and played for each other, and whilst I think Haslemere played

some lovely hockey, the heart, guts and determination, allied with the will to win, carried Banbury through to another fantastic win. This makes league survival that little bit closer to reality now. It was a fantastic game to watch. Well done everyone”

Bryce Wilkinson (Ladies 1s Team Manager)

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