Fixture: Team Bath Buccaneers v Litchfield & Wimbledon
Date and time: Sunday 30 March 2014
Score: 1-1 & 3-2
Venue: Old Loughtonians Hockey Club, Chigwell
Team Bath Buccaneers Under 18 Girls are England Hockey Plate Champions after winning a closely fought final with Wimbledon at Old Loughtonians HC on Sunday.
Having prevailed over Lichfield on penalty strokes in the semi-final after a one-all draw, courtesy of a well-worked penalty corner routine deflected in by Ella Schofield, Team Bath faced Wimbledon in the final.
Wimbledon started strongly, dominating possession, but Team Bath looked ominous on the break. After ten minutes a Lara Williamson through ball was chased to the by-line by Livy Wills, whose excellent cross was swept home by Ellie Lyne to give Team Bath Buccaneers an early lead.
With Ellie Taylor working hard to ensure Wimbledon’s playmaker was denied time and space in possession, Buccaneers pressed their advantage. Now dominant in midfield, with Ellie Lyne driving deep into the Wimbledon half, Lara Williamson threatening with clever movement and Susie Barnes launching a series of aerial balls forward, the girls threatened to take control of the match.
However, as the half went on Wimbledon came back into the game, putting several telling balls across the circle. A full-length diving save was the pick of a number of good stops pulled off by Team Bath Buccaneers keeper Nicole New but, despite her best efforts, the Wimbledon forward-line were able to take advantage of a loose ball in the circle to equalise.
The second-half started much as the first had ended, with Wimbledon in control but Team Bath Buccaneers’ rearguard – notably Molly Buxton, Abbi Scarr and Connie Redman – were able to repel all attacks, whilst Team Bath were reduced to occasional forays into opposition territory.
It took until the final minutes for Team Bath to regain a foothold in the match. With less than five minutes left, Susie Barnes crossed from an improbable angle and as the ball fell to Georgie Prior she was tackled from behind, prompting the umpire to award Buccs a penalty stroke which, in library-silence, was coolly converted by Susie Barnes.
In the last two minutes, Wimbledon threw the kitchen sink at the Team Bath Buccaneers defence, but Nicole New proved equal to everything with a fine double save and clearances from Katie Braithwaite and Hannah Simonds ensured that the Wimbledon forwards were unable to take advantage of the ensuing rebounds.
Huge celebrations accompanied the final whistle and, following what was without doubt their best performance of the season, team captain Abbi Scarr accepted the EH Plate on behalf of the Team Bath Buccaneers side.