CHAMPIONS! Beeston Ladies 6th XI scoop Shield title!
The Ladies 6th XI clinched the Nottinghamshire Women’s Hockey League Shield title after defeating Worksop Ladies 3rd XI in a thrilling final, hosted at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Memories of the recent 4-1 loss to Worksop 3 in the league were fresh in the minds of the 6s as they walked on pitch, but the team knew that ‘that’ sunny Sunday morning would be different. There were smiles on all their faces, enhanced by the arrival of a spectator dressed as a bee to join the biggest crowd the 6s had seen all season.
Dominating play throughout the first half, Sophie Atkinson put the Bees ahead after 15 minutes from the first short corner of the game. Possession was now the name of the game, with coach Sue Moore’s pre-match talk ringing in the team’s ears- pass the ball, talk lots, avoid taking the ball into contact, have fun.
Buoyed by Sophie’s cracking strike on goal and the roar of the crowd, the 6s worked as a unit to keep the ball moving forwards, but unfortunately opportunities on goal were few and far between.
As difficult as Beeston found it to get shots on goal, Worksop’s chances were even more infrequent and goal keeper Hannah Cliffe was there to limit their chances further. However, 20 minutes into the second half Worksop found the back of the Beeston goal from a short corner of their own.
Both teams pushed hard for the next 10 minutes, but ‘sudden death’ extra time loomed. Two halves of 10 minutes, or until someone scored, in the increasingly warm weather was going to be hard. Worksop were looking visibly tired, but defended well to keep the Beeston attack neutralised.
With the game still tied 1-1 at the end of extra time, the final was to be decided by penalty flicks. Heidi Ross-Burton, goal scorer Sophie Atkinson, Hannah Foy, captain Jo Illingworth and Gabby Rozario stepped forward for Beeston.
A team huddle before the flicks started, with both captain and coach reminding the ladies that whatever happened next, they had done themselves and the club proud, brought some comfort to the flick takers as they mentally steeled themselves for what was to come.
The flick takers set themselves apart from the onlooking team, whilst Sue relegated herself to the dugout, providing moral support but unable to watch what was unfolding on the pitch.
Worksop were to go first and Hannah Cliffe set herself up in goal. An imposing presence on the goal line, the save was never in doubt. Both teams saw their first two flicks saved by keepers who did well to keep the competition alive.
Worksop stepped up to take their third flick, which bounced off the post and away from the goal. The game remained all square. Hannah Foy walked up to the penalty spot, calm and composed. She looked right. The keeper followed her gaze. Foy’s shot went hard and fast to the bottom left corner of the goal and Beeston were ahead, but the victory was yet to be sealed.
Worksop levelled the score again by sending their fourth flick to the left, just beyond the reach of Cliffe as her foot got caught. Whilst the Beeston captain couldn’t add to the goal tally, Cliffe redeemed herself on the fifth Worksop flick, to keep the score on flicks 1-1.
As Gabby Rozario approached the penalty spot, the remaining 6s clung to each other, wracked with nerves. A comment of “no pressure” from the umpire was all the motivation Gabby needed to slot home her flick and secure the win for the Bees!
After finishing as runners up last year, the shield was finally where it belonged- with the Ladies 6s.