Slazenger England Hockey League Women's Premier Division Poynton v Bowdon Hightown Ladies.
Saturday, March 01, 2008 Report and phots from John Coxon
Poynton rock Hightown in local Derby.
On the face of it EH Hockey Premier Division's plucky debutants Poynton's task at the weekend ,on a cold yet sunny day at Bellevue , looked a lost cause, with highly experienced Hightown Ladies apparently cruising in second place in the division with 21 points more in the bag and with nine wins in previous matches, 2 draws and 2 losses where their newly promoted local rivals Poynton had just one win under their belts and a draw and hovering nervously second from bottom and staring relegation in the face.
According to Andy Howse, assistant coach, Poynton Ladies , despite the disappointments and set backs this season the girls had turned up , week after week for training at Bellevue , Tuesday nights , never looked back and just remained totally committed and positive and that attitude was evident this weekend in what was a great game they thoroughly deserved to win.
From the outset, as part of the Poynton's game plan, Hightown's Tina Cullen was marked out of the game and never threatened; Poynton were completely positive, attack minded and completely solid in defence particularly in the D. Poynton chased every ball and with such constant energetic positive pressure Hightown were shut down and frustrated in the first half and again in the second. Poynton just hassled for every ball and moved the ball forward at every opportunity with the midfield feeding and supporting their forwards.
In some previous prem games Poynton had conceded in the first half and thereafter chased the game, scaring more experienced opposition at times but losing out finally in hard fought games only marginally. Slough and Leicester had beaten them with big margins but in both replays the margins had been narrow and suggested underachievement on the part of Poynton and a decent win against class opposition had to be in the pipeline.
Poynton remained focussed throughout on Saturday and, despite a period of some ten minutes, at the beginning of the second half, of intense pressure, a shock looked on the cards as Poynton rode the storm and consistently moved forward with increasing confidence. Poynton simply exhibited a huge work rate for each other across the board throughout the game with Hightown apparently just prepared to do what they hoped would be enough and seriously misjudging the day. Hightown had three short corners but failed to capitalise on any of them with Poynton doggedly shutting them out every time. Poynton had no short corners.
Poynton never really looked in trouble and there were just a couple of heart stopping goalmouth scrambles in front of the Poynton goal with one notable clearance off the line from Laura Evans. Poynton grafted away showing patience and determination, matching and beating the league high fliers in every department. In the 55th minute Kate Maltman scored in open play for Poynton and Hightown had no reply. 8 minutes later, again in open play, Poynton's top striker Cath Linaker found the back of the net and her ecstatic run from the goal, having scored, showed the relief of at last getting a sniff of the result that this gallant team really deserve.
Poynton could have sat back and defended, run down the clock but they kept at the game plan. Five minutes later Pipa Jones, again in positive open play, scored and Hightown were sunk and no sign of a reply or consolation goal as the clock ticked down.
Under the league rules the team that finish tenth and thus bottom in the league will be automatically relegated whilst 9th in the league will go into a play-off against 2nd placed team in Division One. In other games this weekend runaway league toppers Slough had a comfortable 4-0 win over bottom of the league Old Loughts and leaves them ten points clear of second placed Hightown. 7th placed Ipswich crashed to Clifton 1-0 in another tough game having fallen to a 5 -1 to Olton previously. 3rd in the league Olton and West Warcs beat Chelmsford ( just a place above Poynton ) 3-1 whilst mid table Canterbury drew with Leicester 2-2 just three points now separating them in the league table.
Next , Poynton play Olton & West Warwicks at Belle Vue , and then go down to Canterbury 15th (whom they scared in their first match in the prem , narrowly defeated 3-2 after a late Canterbury winner) , and their last two games at home are against bottom of the league Old Loughts and finally Chelmsford on April 5th. Chelmsford play Old Loughts on the 15th March and if they have a victory that could see Poynton in the play offs and of course Poynton drew with Chelmsford in their first encounter so its everything to play for. Poynton have weathered the season without key player Sarah Newman but she was at Bellevue this weekend , on the touchline to witness this welcome victory with her lovely newborn William.
More pictures from the game at
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images