Buckingham sink Wakefield as survival beckons

Buckingham celebrate as they beat Wakefield 2-1 in the Promotion Play-Offs at the Investec Women's Finals Weekend 480x290

Rosie Tootell 5 (PC)

Kirsty Freshwater 21 (PC)
Leanne Grimsley 38 (PC)

Goals from Kirsty Freshwater and Leanne Grimsley handed Buckingham their second win in as many games in the playoffs and took them a step closer to securing their Investec Women's Premier Division status with a 2-1 win over Wakefield.

Click here for all the scores and results from today.

The first half was an end-to-end encounter with both teams seemingly taking it in turns to attack. Wakefield drew first blood in the fifth minute with Rosie Tootell’s fierce penalty corner finding the net to break the deadlock. Wakefield looked full of running with Sally Walton and Heather Stafford combining well and giving Buckingham’s defence plenty to think about.

After 20 minutes Buckingham forced a penalty corner. Zoe Shipperley drilled her shot in but Karen Wells got down quickly to her right to make an excellent save. Buckingham forced another penalty corner a minute later and though it wasn’t injected cleanly it was slipped to Shipperley who found Kirsty Freshwater to apply the finish to level the scores. Wakefield had a chance from a penalty corner of their own but Tootell fired wide this time whilst at the other end Wells had to be alert to beat away a backhand strike from Freshwater ensuring it was level at the break.

With three minutes gone in the second period Buckingham took the lead from another penalty corner. The ball fell to Morag McLellan whose low shot was expertly diverted in by Leanne Grimsley to make it 2-1. There was no shortage of industry as both sides grappled to get control of the game, however clear chances were in short supply. With 20 minutes gone in the half Buckingham forced another penalty corner but McLellan’s shot was dealt with by Wells.

With the importance of the next goal magnified by the play off situation tempers flared and three yellow cards were produced in quick succession. With Buckingham down to ten players and time running out Wakefield removed their goalkeeper to add an extra player as they chased an equaliser. They came close almost straight away but Anna Searle beat the ball away with her gloves and maintained her team's slender advantage. Wakefield continued to press but were unable to find the equaliser and Buckingham took the win.

Speaking after the game Buckingham Captain Zoe Shipperley said: “Today was really tough, we knew that it was going to be a hard game, we knew that it was probably going to be a bit of a battle, but we thoroughly believed that if we could stick to our game plan, then we would come out on top. We went a goal down early, but I think it showed in the second half how much we believe in how we play, and we came through in the end, but we've definitely played in nicer games."

Ahead of the final game tomorrow against Slough, Shipperley added: "We always knew it would come down to the last day, being veterans of this weekend in years gone by, I don't think we've gone to a single playoff where it hasn't gone down to the last day, so we had no illusions about how it was going to turn out and that Saturday wasn't going to be the end of it for us. So we'll have a big rest tonight and we're very much looking forward to tomorrow and what that brings."

Wakefield Player/Coach Sally Walton summed up her disappointment:
"I don’t think we’ve seen the real Wakefield here at the playoffs. There’s still all to play for and the girls will be after a bit of pride and to take three points out of the next game. We play well in the big games, so I’m hoping that we’re going to bring that form and really show this crowd at Lee Valley what we’re all about and why we won the Conference North by 11 points."

With Buckingham on the brink of staving off relegation they will face Slough tomorrow, whilst Wakefield will play East Grinstead with everything still to play for.

Investec Women’s Finals Weekend - Promotion Play-Offs standings

  Team P W D L GF GA GD Points
1 Buckingham 2 2 0 0 6 4 2 6
2 East Grinstead 2 1 0 1 10 5 5 3
3 Slough 2 1 0 1 4 7 -3 3
4 Wakefield 2 0 0 2 1 5 -4 0

Investec Women’s Finals Weekend – Promotion Play-Offs - results so far

Sunday 29 March – Cannock Hockey Club

Match 1: Wakefield [North] 0 - 3 Slough [West]

Match 2: East Grinstead [East] 3 - 4 Buckingham [Prem]

Saturday 18 April – Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre

Match 3: East Grinstead [East] 7 - 1 Slough [West]

Match 4: Wakefield [North] 1 - 2 Buckingham [Prem]

Sunday 19 April – Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre

Match 5: Slough [West] v Buckingham [Prem] 1045 Pitch 1 

Match 6: Wakefield [North] v East Grinstead [East] 1045 Pitch 2