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Ladies 1s Vs. New Forest 1s - Saturday 9th April 2022

Didn’t they do well?

Banbury HC Ladies 1s - 1, Lymington Ladies 1s - 3

This is my final report for the season, and what a terrific season it has been; ups and downs, highs and lows. Before the start of the season, I remember coach Hobs telling the ladies to go out and enjoy the hockey in this new higher league, and just see where they end up. There was an ambition to finish mid-table, but also a realisation that the team could perhaps end up in the bottom one or two. To be honest, despite finishing 10th (not in the bottom two!!), Banbury’s play and form were deserving of a mid-table position. Therefore, I think the team’s ambitions have been well met, and it puts them in a good place for next season.

Anyhow, to the game. As this was a re-arranged fixture and played over the start of the Easter

holidays, getting a team together proved to be the challenge of the season. I would like to thank all those Ladies who don’t normally play for the 1s or feature in the squad, but who put their hand up and volunteered to spend the best part of a day away playing hockey for us - Katie Arnold, Katie Atkins, Julia Nowak, Kelly Bradfield & Millie Bell. Also, Nelly Norton volunteered, but due to GMS registration constraints, we couldn’t take her. Massive thanks to you all, as without your support, we wouldn’t have been able to play this match.

It was a long journey down, and the last time we did that, the team played with a little less energy than normal, but this certainly wasn’t the case today. Despite playing with very much a make-shift team, Banbury was on it from the off and won a Short within a minute. It was well enough worked, but nothing came from it, unfortunately. Banbury continued to dominate the early exchanges and Molly McCusker attacked up the right and fed a lovely ball through to Natalie Kyte, but the ball bobbled a bit and she couldn’t quite connect cleanly with the shot. After 8 mins, Libby Haden, with a lovely mazy run, won another Short for Banbury, but this one was saved by New Forest. It took till 12 mins in, before we saw anything from New Forest. As with the first fixture, they were very much relying on hitting on the break by using big long hits up the middle to bypass the Banbury midfield. For a couple of minutes, New Forest managed to get in behind Banbury and attack the Banbury D, and pretty much from their first foray into the danger zone, a shot in from the right found the back of the net; 1-0 New Forest – well against the run of play!

This did appear to galvanise New Forest, who started to settle in to things, and on 19 mins they

earned their first Short, and from the edge of the D, they hammered a shot right through the middle of the defence and into the goal; 2-0 New Forest.

Banbury was certainly not dismayed and continued to work hard. Julia Nowak, was a constant

thorn in the sides of New Forest, and was strong in the tackle and made some lovely runs down the wing; Molly McCusker and Libby Haden, likewise poured down the wings, looking for a well-earned goal and on 20 mins, on the left side of goal, Molly let fly with a lovely reverse stick shot which just flew over. 2 mins later Maddie McCarthy had a shot on goal, which was unfortunately saved. Maddie also won a Short soon after, which didn’t unfortunately lead to that elusive goal. The ladies were trying ever so hard to get back into the game.

However, as is often the case in sport, sometimes your efforts go unrewarded, and after a good spell of New Forest pressure, on 28mins, they broke upfield again and scored; 3-0 New Forest.

Undeterred, Banbury broke upfield themselves a minute later and earned another Short. This was well worked, and after 3 passes in the D, Becca Atkins found herself with acres of space and hammered the ball home; 3-1 New forest. Game on! The remaining hockey of the half was end to end, and chances were had by both teams, but the half finished 3-1.

Both teams played well at the start of the 2nd half, and the ball moved from one side of the pitch to the other. Libby led the attack and after being fouled on 7 mins, Banbury earned their first Short of the 2nd half. This was defended, but in the act of doing so, New Forest gave away another short, but Banbury could not breach the New Forest defence. It really was anyone’s game at this stage. Rosie Gowing and Maddie McCarthy were trying to find gaps through the middle, and Libby, Molly, Nat & Julia were trying to find gaps down the flanks. On 52 mins, Banbury had the Ball in the New Forest D and ever so close to the goal, but neither Julia Nowak nor Katie Arnold could quite squeeze it in and New Forest cleared.

A minute later, Banbury had another short, and Molly’s fearsome shot was right on target and

speeding towards the corner of the net, but a New Forest defender right on the line, somehow kept it out. 2 mins later, New Forest themselves had a short. 5 mins after that, Rosie earned Banbury another short, but no goals were scored from either.

For the last 15 mins of the game, Banbury had the best of the play, but finding clear cut chances was proving to be difficult, and the Banbury defence of Becca Atkins, Katie Atkins, Millie Bell, Kelly Bradfield and Evie Wilkinson, all had to be on their guard as New Forest were always dangerous on the counter. The last couple of mins saw both teams with shorts, but no goals were scored, and in the last seconds of the game, Banbury won the ball at the back and were racing up the pitch with the New Forest team stretched, but the final whistle went and time ran out.

“On the balance of play, Banbury should have taken something from this game. The team had

travelled over 2 hours to get to the match and contained only half of the regular players, and yet

every single player showed fantastic application, enthusiasm, and energy. The ladies that stood in today were marvellous and didn’t at all look out of place. I would like to say a massive thank you to them in particular for turning out. This was the team’s last game of the season, and whilst they didn’t sign off with a win, they certainly showed their mettle and can be rightly proud of their performance. The team earned enough points to stay in this league, and that is a success in itself, and in my opinion, there is nothing to stop the team from winning a few more points and finishing a bit higher up the league next season. Well done to everyone involved.”

MVP– the award goes to the team captain, Becca Atkins who tirelessly led the defensive line.

Bryce Wilkinson

Ladies 1s Manager 09/04/22

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