Buckingham 0-0 Holcombe Ladies
Buckingham 0-0 Holcombe Ladies

Following a professional victory at home to the University of Birmingham last weekend, Holcombe made the trip north to face Buckingham.

Having claimed the conference title and promotion back to the Premier League last season, Buckingham enjoyed a welcome return of Premier League Hockey to Stowe school the previous weekend in a 4-2 win over Canterbury.

From the first whistle, the unchanged Holcombe side asserted their dominance on the fixture, moving the ball around with urgency and creating a number of chances. The home side held firm through an uncertain opening period before finding their feet and moving the ball well through midfield.

An early mistake from Jo Westwood in the heart of the Holcombe defence gifted Buckingham a rare opportunity to open the scoring but with Rose Thomas in the Holcombe goal beaten, Westwood recovered to save the original shot and win a free hit for her side.

With the alarm bells suitably rung, Holcombe moved the ball around the pitch with authority but were found wanting in the final third. Some strong tackles from Zoe Shipperly and Rebecca Van Berkel in the Buckingham back-line largely negated Holcombe’s attacking threat as they struggled to breakdown the resilient newcomers to the Premier League.

Late in the first half, Buckingham began to expand, finding opportunities to go forward at pace and were rewarded with a barrage of penalty corners. After Thomas had saved a powerful Shipperly strike onto the post, the rebound struck Leah Wilkinson on the goal line, awarding the home side a penalty stroke.

Having saved a penalty just a fortnight ago against East Grinstead to preserve a scoreless encounter, Thomas repeated the feat to deny Great Britain International Shipperly from getting on the scoresheet.

With a chance to regroup at half-time, the second period followed the same pattern as the first. Both sides were resilient in defence and a lack of creative spark in the final thirds left both goalkeepers with little to do as Holcombe took a point back to Kent to maintain third spot in the National Premier League.

Next weekend, Holcombe welcome Bowdon Hightown to Holcombe Park as the fifth-placed Manchester side look to keep pace with the early top-four.