Photo c/o Andy Smith
Investec Women’s Conference North
Beeston 3 – 1 Sutton Coldfield
Nottingham Hockey Centre, 17th September
Beeston Ladies 1st XI made an excellent start to the new season with a convincing 3-1 victory over Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.
Following the solid progress made last season under former coach Gareth Hall, Beeston moved quickly to appoint the highly rated Colin Clarke as his successor at the end of last season. He has been working hard over the summer months to get across his message and develop a new brand of hockey, and the first sighting of the new look Bees was promising on a sun kissed afternoon at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Beeston welcomed three debutants into the starting line up on Saturday, Mel Gobel who has joined for the season from German club ATV Leipzig, Bella Fisken who has moved down south from CALA in Edinburgh and Fenella Scutt who has progressed through the youth system.
The visitors have high aspirations of their own after almost gaining promotion to the National Premier League last season, only to miss out at play-offs after claiming the West Conference title. With the geographically machinations following the conclusion of last season, Sutton were moved back into the North Conference, and were keen to make a fast start at Beeston. Unfortunately for the West Midlands based side, the home team were fast out of the blocks, playing an aggressive first half which saw them dominate both possession and circle entries. Despite a number of attempts on goal, Sutton’s defence held firm until ten minutes from the break, when a counter attack led by Sophie Robinson saw her slide the ball to an unmarked Alice Huddlestone to tap home.
With the wind in their sails and a 1-0 lead to swell the confidence, Beeston pressed forward to get an important second goal before the break. They achieved their aim when Robinson again created the space for a circle entry this time threading the ball to Scutt who deftly slotted home between the legs of Becky Batsford.
With a two goal deficit at half time, Sutton knew they had to chase the game, and they came out hard, straight away putting Beeston under pressure. Beeston coped well, but when Rachel Sharp received a yellow card following a mistimed tackle in the 23, it started a period of dominance for the visitors that saw them eventually grab a goal back. While Beeston survived the yellow card of Sharp, and then of Phoebe Willars, when Esme Burge also headed to the sin bin it proved 5 minutes too long with only ten players as the experienced Vicky Woolford slotted home a penalty corner routine to bring the deficit down to one goal.
To the home side’s credit, they responded well to the disappointment of conceding and they soon reaffirmed their grip on the game when they returned to the full complement of players. As Sutton pressed for an equaliser, more space opened up, and when Rosy Stephens applied some excellent pressure on the pink and purple defence, the ball fell to Tori Wensley who struck a sweet strike into the back of the goal to kill the game and secure the vital three points for Beeston.
Investec Women’s Cup Round 1
Bedford 1-1 Beeston
(Beeston win 4-1 after penalty strokes)
Bedford Hockey Centre, 18th September
After the delight of a first league win on Saturday, Beeston travelled to Bedford in high spirits hoping to make a good start to their campaign in the Investec Womens Cup. The Bees made a small number of changes to the squad from Saturday with JRPC activity also taking place at the same time as the flagship women’s competition. This enabled Paige Gillott, Jess Roe and Saskia Swatland to make their 1st XI debuts.
While on paper the game looked to be one that Beeston should have had little difficulty navigating, the reality proved far different as Bedford put on an impressive performance that almost saw them spring a surprise cup upset. While Beeston looked a little tired and disjointed, Bedford worked extremely hard to break up the attacks and attempt to sting on the counter attack.
Their plan worked, and when they got themselves in the lead it looked like they might just take a national league scalp. However, Beeston rallied and started to finally find some form and when Paige Gillott struck an equaliser with just over ten minutes to go, it forced the match into a penalty shoot-out.
Beeston thankfully showed their composure to win 4-1, but they know they will need to play much better when they face Belper next weekend in the first ever Whirlowdale Friday Night hockey match at Beeston.