Unbeaten weekend for EHL teams
Buckingham 2 Swansea City 2
With Buckingham not losing a game since playing Swansea 2 years ago and not dropping any points this season, today's match was bound to be a fiesty encounter. The match started with the Swansea back line under pressure, however with some calm play from Robyn Wilford and Jo Westwood, Buckingham struggled to get much change from their attacks. 10' into the game Buckingham broke from the centre of the field cruising through several stick tackles from Swansea, resulting in the ball finding the back of the net to take the lead. The game remained high paced and equal for both teams. 28' into the half Swansea won a penalty corner which was well saved but the second phase was a quality finish by Sophie Clayton to bring the scores level.
Half time came as a welcome break for both teams with the game becoming aggressive. The second half brought skillful play from Buckingham putting the Swansea team under great pressure, Buckingham had numerous penalty corners, finally converting one with a well performed deflection. Swansea stepped up in response to going 2-1 down with several breaks into their attacking 25 and the Swansea forwards working hard. A breakthrough for Swansea led to a cross into the circle by Bridget Radice, which was deflected by the Buckingham defence over the goal keeper and into the top of the net. The game finished with some desperate play by Buckingham trying to force the ball into the back of the net, however the Swansea defence did well to keep the score level. A great team performance by Swansea resulted in a well-earned draw for the girls, being the only team to take points from Buckingham this season. Player of the match was deservedly awarded to Sophie Clayton
Havant 3 Cardiff & UWIC 3
Cardiff & UWIC kept the pressure on the joint leaders of the division, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to record a vital point. Cardiff & UWIC found themselves behind after just 4' and despite pressure being put onto the home team's defence conceded two further goals to go 0-3 down with just 14' remaining. Dafydd Tomos started the comeback after 57' and a Jack Pritchard brace , his second in the penultimate minute left Cardiff & UWIC two points behind the teams above with a game in hand. With two of their final four matches being against the teams above them the next match against Whitchurch this coming Friday night (20:00 pushback at NHC, Sophia Gardens) now takes on added importance .
Whitchurch 2 Cheltenham 1
Welsh International Nick Rees converted a last minute penalty stroke to give Whitchurch a dramatic 2-1 win in their Conference West match against Cheltenham. It was a vital win for Whitchurch who went into the match level on points but with a better goal difference than their opponents who were in the ninth place relegation play-off spot. With both sides anxious for maximum points it was Cheltenham who started the better, moving the ball well and switching play expertly to keep the Whitchurch defence at full stretch. The visitors made their pressure tell midway through the half when hesitancy in the Whitchurch defence let in Alex Salmon to fire home from close range. Cheltenham continued to enjoy good possession but calm defending from Whitchurch skipper Tom Fisher, Ben Thomas and Alun Welsh well supported by a hard working squad restricted Cheltenham to a 1-0 interval lead.
The second period saw a complete turnaround in the pattern of play with a resurgent Whitchurch taking the initiative and causing problems to the Cheltenham defenders with slick passing and strong running from Rupert Shipperley and Nick Rees and great support work from Louis Jones, Jonny Gordon and Adam Barker. The visitors though were defending well and it took a brilliant quick passing four-man move to unlock their defence, Rhys Welsh powering in from the left to steer the ball home for the equaliser with just a quarter of the game remaining. Both sides created goal scoring chances in the tense closing stages, Whitchurch keeper Iwan Williams saving expertly from a Cheltenham penalty corner and the Cheltenham keeper in turn saving a penalty corner strike at full stretch. The game looked destined for a draw but in the final minute of play Whitchurch were awarded a penalty stroke when a goal bound shot was cleared illegally by the Cheltenham defence and Nick Rees stepped up to coolly convert from the spot and give Whitchurch a welcome win.
With the teams above Whitchurch all gaining points on the day the Welsh Club remain eighth in the table on seventeen points, three points ahead of Cheltenham, level on points with Havant and just two points behind Fareham and University of Birmingham. Whitchurch have two difficult matches this weekend. They face third in the table Cardiff & UWIC in a re-scheduled match this Friday (20:00 at NHC, Sophia Gardens) and then travel to top of the table University of Exeter on Sunday.