Beeston’s penalty corner gamble with their Bunce earns Premier League dream

Beeston Ladies indoor campaign ended on a dramatic high last weekend as an overtime drag flick from Vikki Bunce secured a win against Supersixes Division 1 champions Buckingham and secured a second place finish, back to back promotions and a place in the Premier League for the 2018/19 season.

It was the perfect way to cap off a great two weeks for Bunce who was signed specifically for the indoor campaign. The Scottish and GB international joined with a great pedigree and delivered on that promise, finishing the competition as top scorer in Division 1 with 13 goals to her name.

Beeston started the competition more slowly, with a mixed set of results on the first weekend held in Bristol, securing good wins against Chelmsford (6-2) and St Albans (6-1) but registering narrow defeats against Surbiton (4-5) and Sevenoaks (2-4).

By the time the competition moved to Nottingham on the second weekend though, the Bees really hit their stride and launched themselves into contention with opening days wins against Harleston Magpies (3-2) and Birmingham University (7-3), the latter a brilliant display of fast open attacking indoor hockey. Going into the final day of competition, Beeston were well placed but knew that in reality it would take two wins and also the result in the game between Sevenoaks and Surbiton to go their way.

With Sevenoaks edging past Surbiton in a tight, hard fought match, the door was opened for Beeston to make their promotion challenge. A professional victory against Brooklands Poynton early on in the day left them with the unenviable task of beating Buckingham to seal promotion, but their experienced opponents, despite securing promotion by the middle of the day were in no mood to roll over as they had a 100% record to defend.

Fired up, Beeston raced out of the blocks and into a 3-0 lead with goals from Bunce, Esme Burge and Rebekah Walker. Buckingham pegged one back before half time, but with a 3-1 scoreline at the break, things were looking good. Buckingham came out fighting though, and soon levelled the game at 3-3 before Bunce fired home another penalty corner to give the Bees a 4-3 lead with 7 minutes to go. In the fast and furious nature of indoor though, there was bound to be more drama to come, and so it proved when Buckingham levelled the game from a penalty corner with just 3 minutes on the clock. Coach Colin Clarke, called his timeout, put on a kicking back and went all out for the winning goal.

With 50 seconds to go, it looked as though the promotion dream was over when former Bee Abi Brant slotted the ball into an empty goal, only for the umpires to reverse their decision for a lifted ball in the middle of the pitch. From the resultant free hit, Esme Burge turned to drive into the D and won a penalty corner. The clock ticked over to full time, so Beeston had one final chance to score the goal for promotion. The ball was fired out to Bunce whose drag flick was smothered, but after a foul was awarded against Buckingham as they tried to clear the ball, Beeston were given one final chance. Coach Colin Clarke, who remained unflustered ask Bunce to take it on again, possibly a gamble, but Bunce wasn’t missing a second time, and her low powerful shot smashed into the backboard to send the Lee Westwood Sports Centre in ‘total meltdown’.

Beeston would like to thank David Knipe for joining the coaching staff during the first weekend in Bristol and the whole squad for their commitment during the indoor programme.

Beeston Indoor Squad: Nicki Cochrane (GK), Nat Robson (GK), Sophie Robinson (C), Louisa Boddy, Sarah Spooner, Fenella Scutt, Ellie de Heer, Sarah Glenn, Esme Burge, Mimi Tarrant, Vikki Bunce, Bex Walker, Rosy Stephens, Jika Nyirenda, Lauren Burrell, Helen Jelley.

Match report: Chris Glover

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