Conference West champions Team Bath Buccaneers celebrate trophy with 4-2 win Team Bath Buccaneers men’s firsts celebrated collecting the England Hockey Conference West trophy with a 4-2 victory over second placed Whitchurch at the University of Bath Sports Training Village.
Conference West champions Buccs players were presented with the trophy and their medals by match official Peter Wood before the start of Saturday’s penultimate league game of the regular season. They now face play-offs in May for a place in the Premier Division for the first time in their history.
A determined Whitchurch side tried to spoil Buccs’ celebrations on Saturday and were a goal to the good at half time through Rhys Gowman’s 22nd minute effort.
But Buccs stepped up the pace after the break and Richard Bendry levelled up three minutes after the break through a close range effort after good work and an inch perfect cross from the left by Tim Davenport.
Buccs were only level for four minutes before Joe Naughalty restored Whitchurch’s lead.
The visitors’ keeper made some terrific saves from Davenport and Johnny Kinder as Buccs pressed to restore parity, and then Davenport saw another effort cannon back off the post.
Moments later Davenport’s next effort was spot on target to level up from a short corner to make it 2-2 just before the hour mark – his 27th league goal of the season.
Eugene Malthouse put Buccs ahead for the first time in the game a minute later after Jonathan Haynes ran round the back of the Whitchurch defence before pulling the ball back.
And Bendry completed the scoring five minutes from time. After a one-two with Phil Ball, he fired home for his second and Buccs’ fourth of the game.
Buccs are now 20 points clear at the top of Conference West with one game remaining this season, a trip to Bourneville on Sunday.
Buccs have booked a place in the end of season play-offs at Cannock from 1-3 May, where they have the opportunity of reaching the Premier Division for the first time in their history.
Team Bath Buccaneers ladies’ firsts will have to wait to the final game of the regular season to learn whether they will escape the Conference West end of season relegation play-offs after losing their penultimate game on Sunday.
Buccs went down 2-1 away to Firebrands on Sunday. Sophie Ainge put Firebrands ahead just before the break and Kate Newton made it 2-0 midway through the second half.
Zoe Shipperley pulled a goal back for Buccs in the last 10 minutes. Their final of the regular season is at home to Aldridge in a 2pm start at the Sports Training Village on Saturday (27 March).
Aldridge currently occupy the play-off spot and Buccs are two points and two places ahead of them, so a draw would ensure Buccs’ Conference West place next season.
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All photos by Digitalscape