Hockey: Ladies dig deep for victory as youth teams impress

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IT was a mixed weekend for the ladies of Milton Keynes Hockey Club, but the first team secured a valuable 2-1 win against Hampstead & Westminster 3rds.

Returning to home turf at Woughton on the Green for the first time this year, the city side were taking on the league’s bottom team, and only a win would do.

MK opened the scoring with only two minutes of the game played as captain Sophie Reynolds fired the ball home in with a reverse stick strike.

Buoyed by the early goal, MK began to play some flowing hockey through midfield – Alice Vigor linking well with Maxine McMenamin and Lou Reynolds to create chances for the forward line.

Hampstead increased the intensity of their attacking moves, causing MK to make errors, give the ball away cheaply, and put their defence of Steph Bates, Lindsay Kettleborough, Sarah Lowry, and goalkeeper Emma Small under a period of pressure.

Hampstead eventually found a way through to equalise, and so it was back to the drawing board for MK.

Following a team talk from coach Sue Sutton, MK returned to the pitch with renewed determination and energy in the second half, looking to get the goal they needed to move back ahead.

The game switched from end-to-end with both teams going close to scoring on a number of occasions. Player of the match Chrissy Little worked tirelessly down the left side, linking with Lowry and Gemma Meredith to build attacks

MK’s efforts were rewarded with 15 minutes of the game remaining when Lou Reynolds smashed the ball home past the Hampstead keeper.

MK then tightened their defence for the final part of the game, denying the visitors any goal scoring opportunities and holding on for their first victory and three points of 2013.

The ladies’ 2nds were held to a 0-0 draw by Newbury & Thatcham 1sts and the 3rds suffered a 7-1 defeat to Witney 2nds.

It was an important match for the 3rds, but it couldn’t have gone much worse after they had to play without a keeper, and with only six players.

Maddy Boyce acted as a kicking back which allowed MK some advantages in the circle. She played well and tackled throughout the whole game, sweeping the ball out wide and stopping goals on numerous occasions.

Emily Watkins, playing out of position in defence, also had a very strong game, linking with Maddy and feeding the ball forward to Sophie Wombwell. Sophie, Kerry Horton and Fran Shepherd ran tirelessly in midfield, working the ball from defence forward to Jo Hayward, Georgia Marshall, Lana Camp and Dani Jeffrey.

There were several opportunities for MK to score, including a couple of short corners. But it was in open play that Jo Hayward scored from her own rebounded shot.

In defence Lauren Hooton, playing out of her usual position, had a strong game slowing down the Witney attacks and feeding the ball to Kerry. Alex Dunn had a strong match distributing the ball to both sides of the pitch, supported by Emma Hooton.

However, despite their best efforts, and those of player of the match Lana Camp, MK were on the end of a hugely disappointing 7-1 defeat, while the 4ths drew 2-2 with Blueharts thanks to goals from Melanie West and Sinead Cook.

>> There was no winner announced at the Buckingham mini tournament on Sunday, but MK’s mixed U10s side won every game they played.

The boys U12s also maintained their excellent unbeaten form by finishing at the top of their league, the U14s lost 1-0 to Southgate and the U16s beat Harrow 2-1 to remain undefeated.

Meanwhile the men’s veteran’s went down 3-1 to East Grinstead, with Stuart Riches getting their goal.