Match Report Hockey: England Hockey League Western Conference (Men) v Birmingham

19 November 2011

Fixture: University of Birmingham v Team Bath Buccaneers

Date and time: Saturday 19 November 2011, 14:30

Score:  0-2

Venue: Birmingham

Team Bath Buccaneers recorded their seventh consecutive win on Saturday 19 November, winning 2-0 at second placed Birmingham University.

With third placed Havant failing to capitalise on Birmingham’s slip, it means that Buccs are now four points clear at the top with one game remaining until the mid-season break.

A goalless and fairly uneventful first half saw Buccs dominate possession without creating any real clear cut opportunities.

Buccs’ stronghold on the game clearly frustrated their opponents and they came out for the second half much more aggressive and determined to break the visitors down.

This approach created gaps in their defence and Buccs needed no second invitation to exploit them.

Five minutes into the second half and a slick passing move enabled Shaun Matthews the time and space at the top of the circle to pick his spot and smash the ball home past keeper Todd Dudley.

It was the New Zealand midfielder’s first goal of the season and it certainly silenced the vociferous home crowd.

Seven minutes after Matthews’ strike Buccs doubled their lead. Youngster Tom Alsop broke free on the right hand side and flicked the ball over an advancing Dudley from a tight angle for his second of the season.

The home side, needing a goal, then began to come into the game and Buccs needed to be at their best in defence to deny them a lifeline.

Yellow cards for Tom Alsop, Matt Ruxton and Dave Devey at various points in the closing stages did not help the Buccs cause but the team rallied and stayed firm when under pressure from the students.

In a flurry of late penalty corners for the hosts, their specialist Pete Jackson was unable to find a way past Buccs keeper James Bailey.

Bailey thwarted his England junior international teammate on a number of occasions to ensure a second clean sheet in the league for Buccs.

Buccs entertain Cheltenham on Sunday in their final fixture before the break and go into it knowing that they will be sitting pretty at the top of the West Conference at Christmas regardless of the result in that game.

Needless to say they will be going all out to ensure they finish this half of the season on a high by registering their eighth win in a row.

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