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Ladies 1s Vs. Haslemere 1s - Saturday 27 November 2021

Would Banbury weather the storm?

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

Storm Arwen was upon us and there was snow, rain, and high winds today. With a round trip of

some 200 miles, everyone travelled to Haslemere not knowing quite what to expect. For an away

fixture like this, as is often the case, player availability was limited, but the team travelled down with a good mixture of youth and experience. The pitch was in good condition and everyone was

wrapped up against the cold (coach and manager wearing many layers plus ski gear).

It was a cagey start by both teams, and it was Haslemere who made the first foray into the

opposition half, but a good strong tackle by Laurie Dumbreck, soon sent the ball back upfield again. Shortly after, we saw Haslemere working the ball well and making further attacks on the Banbury D, and for the early part of the game, Banbury was up against it. After 8 minutes, the defence was stretched and Haslemere had numbers, but their player went direct at goal instead of passing and Muqaddas Ahmed made a lovely save. The Banbury team were all working very hard and it looked like they had weathered the storm, but a simple one-two pass on 12 mins from Haslemere down the left wing carved open the Banbury defence, and Haslemere was in behind the last player for an easy tap in. One Nil Haslemere.

Haslemere continued to press and make life difficult for Banbury, and our team were not being

allowed to play. On 20 mins, Muqaddas was forced into another fine save and Zoe Young fired the

ball out of the danger area. Haslemere earned themselves a short corner after 23 mins and their player performed a lovely drag-flick, but the defence held firm. Banbury, although under the cosh, were actually playing quite well, but it was all in their own half, and although the team made a few nice breaks, Haslemere quickly closed them down and continued to be a tough nut to crack. Banbury persevered and in the final few minutes of the half, the team worked the ball into the Haslemere D probing for an equaliser. Getting a sniff of the opposition goal gave Banbury momentum and Maddie McCarthy proved to be a real live wire earning a short corner in the last minute of the half. This was well worked, and after a couple of one twos the goal was open, but the Banbury strike just went inches past the post… half time!

Immediately after the start, Banbury broke well with Maddie and Molly McCusker combining well, but Haslemere stood firm, and it wasn’t long before they were on the attack themselves. With Banbury pushing and playing so high, they left a gap at the back and Haslemere had a 3 on 1, but they didn’t take advantage, and the score remained the same. Within the space of a few minutes Haslemere was awarded 3 short corners, with the last one hitting the post, but they all stayed out! These first 10 minutes of the second half were proving to be very difficult for Banbury, but slowly they started to get to grips with the game. Banbury was now moving the ball upfield, and out of the danger area, but they couldn’t break down the Haslemere defence to get a meaningful shot at goal. Haslemere soon turned defence into attack - shooting just past the post, and on 50 minutes, after another good Banbury attack, Haslemere regained possession and passed the ball quickly upfield, and with the Banbury defence stretched it was an easy goal. Two-nil Haslemere.

Less than a couple of minutes after the last goal, Banbury lost possession in the D and the Haslemere attacker coolly lifted the ball over Muqaddas, who was given no chance. Three Nil Haslemere.

As is often the case, adversity seems to spur the Ladies 1s on, and their confidence and work rate increased, and on 53 mins we saw Fern Hawkins racing up the pitch having won the ball in the middle, and it was a foot race between her and one Haslemere defender. Unfortunately, that

defender was no slouch and although Fern edged ahead, the defender just pushed the ball away before Fern could get her shot on goal. A minute later, Maddie worked well into the D and earned

the team a short. This was also well worked, with good stop, one, two passes, and despite being in the process of falling over, Kate Murphy hit the ball into the net. Three-one Haslemere.

Banbury was moving the ball well now, and Molly and Fern combined to get the ball into the

opposition danger area and Fern earned a short, which just missed. It was now end to end, with

Banbury holding their own. Haslemere broke on 58 minutes, forcing a good save from Muqaddas,

and then Banbury 2 minutes later had an attack of their own, and yet another short. A goal here

could put the cat amongst the pigeons! Unfortunately, this was not to be, but Banbury was looking good. However, despite having more of the play now, it wasn’t all Banbury, as on 63 mins Haslemere worked the ball upfield and earned a short due to an unfortunate lifted ball that came off a Banbury stick. The short was defended well, but it looked like all the recent high tempo effort had taken its toll and the Haslemere team started to dictate things again. The last few minutes of the game, unfortunately, belonged to Haslemere and their constant pressure led to a fourth and final goal. Four one Haslemere and the final whistle.

I think Banbury played with great heart and determination but met a very good, well-drilled team, and it was always going to be a tough ask to match such a team away from home. Banbury is playing in a league higher than they did in the past two seasons and are performing admirably well and holding their own, and can take heart in how they are doing against these teams.

MVP– there were a number of ladies getting nominations, but it was Charlie and Alice who just

edged it with 3 votes each.

Bryce Wilkinson

Ladies 1s Manager 27/11/21

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