WITH the new hockey season on the horizon, Milton Keynes’ Ladies continued their fine form with an encouraging 3-1 friendly win over University of Birmingham 3rds.
Despite a much delayed arrival due to a hold up on the M1 and consequently a very short warm-up, MK went into the game more determined than ever to return home with a good result.
They looked to start the game strongly, however it was Birmingham who went close to scoring first – requiring some first class defensive work from Helen Cooke to keep them out.
It was from a Birmingham attack that MK scored their first goal, Lou Reynolds clearing the ball out of the visitors’ defensive 25 yard area straight to Ellie Walsh who fed Sophie Reynolds to fire the ball past the Birmingham keeper.
Buoyed by the goal, MK upped their game and it wasn’t long before the home team’s defence was under constant pressure, with MK’s pressing on the Birmingham free hits forcing them to play the ball off the back and sidelines several times, creating attack chance after chance.
And it was from one of those that MK scored their second goal of the game. Lou Reynolds played a long ball in for first team debutant Gemma Little to sweep the ball past the Birmingham keeper with her first touch of the game.
Despite MK conceding a string of penalty corners in the final minutes of the first half, Birmingham still couldn’t find a way through the defence of Steph Bates, Maxine McMenamin, Chrissy Little, Jess Barnes and goalkeeper Laura Pellington-Woodrow. Bates saved the ball off the line at chest height to maintain MK’s two-goal lead going into half time.
Returning to the pitch, MK looked to once again apply intense pressure to the Birmingham defence, however within the first five minute it was the MK defence which was tested and Birmingham found a way through to pull a goal back.
Undeterred MK continued to play some fine passing hockey, Alice Vigor working tirelessly in midfield to link defence to attack. And the visitors found the net again when a quick free hit taken by Lou Reynolds found player of the match Sophie Reynolds who fired the ball home on her reverse to make it 3-1.
Not satisfied with only a two-goal cushion, MK still pushed for another goal. Sofie Sokoloski and Jane Gibbs worked hard up front to force the Birmingham defence into making mistakes, creating attacking opportunities.
The hosts made the MK defence work hard in the final stages of the game, but determined to keep the ball out MK marked tightly and some well-timed tackles from McMenamin and Bates – along with some great saves from Pellington-Woodrow – meant they were unable to find a way through, leaving the final score 3-1.
It wasn’t such a good result for the Ladies’ 3rds who went down to Leighton Buzzard by the odd goal in five.
MK started slowly, allowing Leighton to score twice in the opening 15 minutes, and despite dominating much of the first half they couldn’t cut the deficit before the break.
They were eventually back in the game early in the second half with Sam Grover finding the net. However, it wasn’t long before Leighton added a third to all but make the game safe.
There was still time for MK to dust themselves off though, and they responded well to pull another goal back from a short corner, with Mel West’s fine strike finding its way through to make it 3-2.