EHL Women's Premier Division
22nd September 2007 , Belle Vue , Manchester
Poynton Debutants Rattle Canterbury
Report and pictures from John Coxon
Newly promoted Poynton played host to Canterbury in their first ever EHL Women's Premier Division game at Belle Vue, Manchester , Saturday 22nd ; on paper at least , a really tough initiation with Canterbury having come out over all third in the top division last season, having represented England in the European Club Cup Winners Cup, Madrid, earlier this year and fielding England internationals Becky Duggan (GK) Natalie Seymour , Hayley Brown and England Under 21 Squad member Tash Brennan . Canterbury , England multi-capped Mel Clewlow was, on this occasion, on the touchline having recently taken over the role of Ladies Coach following the departure to New Zealand of Greg Nichols from PoloFarm.
Traditionally newly promoted clubs face a massive learning curve and it takes them, at the very least, a few games to get acclimatised to the additional demands of top division play but Poynton, with a tried and trusted blend of youth and experience, immediately looked as though they belonged, giving Canterbury a tough fight from the outset and never looking like flagging throughout. Pre-match, no doubt, the new comers would have looked to Cath Linaker, last season's Division One top goal scorer and Player of the Season, to rack up a score for the home team to ensure a safe take-off in the top flight and in fact she delivered, putting in two goals in open play during what was always a tense and hard fought game.
It was Canterbury's Hayley Brown, in the first half, who opened the scoring after 14 minutes capitalising on a second penalty corner and putting away a drag flick from Natasha Brennan with a diving tap in. Poynton worked hard to match Canterbury and must have been disappointed on 25 minutes when they were awarded a penalty flick, clinically stopped by Becky Duggan. But 5 minutes later, their determination paid off with Cath Linaker evening up the score with an open play goal that left Duggan no chance. Natasha Brennan put Canterbury ahead again with a goal in open play in the 44 th minute (from a great cross from South Africa International Jen Wilson) with her first touch putting it away from the keeper. Cath Linaker scored five minutes later, again in attacking open play to bring it level but Sarah Kerly struck home, with just four minutes to go, following more sterling work from Jen Wilson on the wing offering a killer pass that Kerly buried.
Speaking after the game , Canterbury Manager, Simon Triggs was full of praise for Poynton's performance (and warm hospitality post match.) He had come to Belle Vue with no illusions and described them as a great club , a "tough cookie" whom he'd expected to give them trouble and he believes that they are going to cause any team in the division problems this season. He was impressed with Linaker's fantastic spatial awareness and finishing. He was also full of praise for Jen Wilson's tireless efforts and skill on the wing for Canterbury and acknowledged all the hard work that Sarah Kerly had put into her game over the summer. Coach Mel Clewlow was congratulatory too about Poynton's debut having felt that Canterbury had "Got out of jail" and she would have taken a 2-2 draw on the day. Poynton next travel to Tuddenham Road to play Ipswich on 29th September with Canterbury at Coombe Dingle, Bristol taking on Clifton Ladies.