Buckingham 4 Slough 1
By Zak Jones
Buckingham Go Into Winter Break In Second Place
In their last league fixture before the indoor/Christmas break, Buckingham made a bit of a slow start and took a while to get into their rhythm, despite Phoebe Richards coming close to opening the scoring with a turn and shot inside five minutes. With both sides probing for openings, Ella Jackson made a timely intercept after eight minutes and was forced to come off her line and smother again a couple of minutes later, from a swift Slough counter attack. However, Buckingham gradually grew into the game and earned their first penalty corner opportunity after fourteen minutes. A well rehearsed routine saw captain Kitty Higgins deflect the ball high into the net for a 1-0 lead. The home side got away with a cheap turnover and another swift visitors counter a minute later but they were gradually starting to dominate both territory and possession. On twenty-one minutes, after a period of pressure, a good attack down the right hand side resulted in Abbie Brant forcing the ball home from close range, for her first goal of the season, much to her and the teams delight. Richard's was denied after another good move down the right on twenty-eight minutes and a couple of other half chances including another penalty corner were defended well and score remained 2-0 at the break.
Buckingham started the second half really well and created an opening in the first minute but the ball just didn't quite fall to an attacking stick. Shortly afterward a Katrina Nicholson deflection arrowed over the bar and just a minute later the score was 3-0. Player of the match, Brant claimed her second, ghosting in with with a neat deflection just in front of the keeper. She was denied her hat-trick just two minutes later after a fine run by Richards as the home side now had the momentum and were looking to dominate. However, a freakish looped deflection and a contentious decision gifted the visitors a lifeline, when they scrambled the ball home after nine minutes, to reduce the deficit. This and the loss of Higgins to a serious looking facial injury disrupted Buckingham’s flow and there was a scrappy period as both sides grappled for momentum. After Forty-four minutes Eloise Laity was denied Buckingham's fourth by a defenders foot in front of goal keeper but Lauren Thomas put the resulting corner strike just millimetres wide of the post. Buckingham were now starting to dominate again and came close to extending their lead further a number of times. Finally, with five minutes remaining, they got their reward when a fine run from Hannah Cozens ended with a smart back foot finish on the turn from Tash James. Buckingham earned another penalty corner and Laity once again came close to making it five but before the end, but her shot was well saved and the game ended 4-1 in the home sides favour.
It was another good performance. Overall we played very well and our execution around D showed a marked improvement from last week. However, we still left some opportunities out there and apart from our first penalty corner which was perfect, our execution from set piece was not at the level we would want it to be. Apart from the odd lapse, our defensive diligence was also much better this week, so this remains an area we will continue to keep working on. Pleasingly, we go into the Christmas break in second place but more importantly in a good shape both offensively and defensively. We have been pretty consistent in what we have delivered week to week over the first part of the season and I am confident that there is still more to come from this group. We will be working hard on our physical conditioning during the break and will look forward to the league restarting again in February where we begin with a tough away match at 3rd placed Birmingham Uni.