Buckingham Qualify For Finals Day
By Zak Jones
The 1st Indoor Squad Make History in Qualifying For Finals Day For The First Time Ever
On the weekend of 5/6 January, Buckingham continued their Jaffa Super 6’s Indoor Premier League campaign sitting in second place on goal difference to leaders East Grinstead and it was one v two in their opening game of the weekend. Buckingham started slowly and found themselves 1-0 down early on. However, the remainder of half was very even. Buckingham missed a very good chance to make it 1-1 just before half time but it was EG who extended their lead from the penalty spot early in the second half. Buckingham fought back and Tash James reduced the deficit but despite the sides best efforts, they could not find an equaliser. In the second game of the day Buckingham, once again began slowly and found themselves 1-0 down to a young and energetic Canterbury side but Rebecca Van Berkel brought the scores level and then gave Buckingham the lead before the ten-minute mark. Buckingham continued to dominate but could not capitalise on their opportunities and a swift counter brought the scores level before half time. Buckingham regained the lead through Lottie Porter following some fantastic indoor hockey and Lauren Thomas extended the lead to 4-2 by converting a penalty stroke. However, Buckingham conceded a sloppy goal with ninety seconds remaining to set nerves jangling but a well taken goal by Abbie Brant calmed things and the 5-3 result kept Buckingham firmly in the top three.
The final day saw a number of vital games between the top six sides. First, Buckingham took on fellow top four contenders Holcombe and in the event, they produced their best performance of the competition to run out 4-2 winners. The side played with fantastic intensity on defence and also produced some outstanding attacking team play. The goals came from Lauren Thomas, Katrina Nicholson, Tash James and captain Alex Naughalty and all but ensured qualification for finals day. Buckingham went into the final match of the competition in third place and confident of a semi finals place and took on fourth placed Slough. It a tight and hard fought game, Buckingham took the lead through Van Berkel and were unlucky not to extend it when she hit frame of the goal. Yet two goals in quick succession midway through the half saw Slough take a slender 2-1 lead into the break and a defensive error saw them extended their lead mid-way through the second half. After a number of periods of sustained pressure James reduced the deficit to 3-2 but Buckingham could not find an equaliser and the result meant they finished fourth in the table. However, despite the disappointment of losing the final game, the girls were delighted as their hard work had paid off with qualification for the Jaffa Super 6’s finals day for the first time in the clubs history. This is an incredible achievement given Buckingham had only just returned to the premier league this season having won Division 1 last year. The Jaffa Super 6’s finals day will see the top four men’s and women’s sides in the country compete to become indoor national champions. The finals take place on Sunday 27th January at a packed Copperbox Arena at London’s Olympic Park and will be streamed live on the BBC. Buckingham take on regining champions and this years league winners Bowdon Hightown in the first semi-final at 10:30am.