Despite seeing her side finish the South Club’s Women’s Hockey League with a defeat, player-coach Sadie Lapper is satisfied with Banbury’s progress.
Banbury finished seventh in their first season in division two but only four points behind third-placed London Wayfarers following Saturday’s 5-4 defeat against Brighton & Hove, in which they led for most of the game.
Banbury started strongly and broke the deadlock with some excellent forward play by Charli Price, Vic Coombs and Tasha Nunneley who picked up an excellent through ball from Lapper to beat the keeper.
Banbury kept pushing with high intensity and Brighton struggled to cope with Price’s aerial play down the left flank, that opened up more space for Tasha Nunneley to double her side’s advantage.
Banbury looked in control of the game and, with some solid defensive play, it didn’t look like Brighton were going to get anywhere close to scoring.
After quickly moving out of defence, Becca Atkins found Pip Jones and her early pass released Lapper who received the ball on the edge of the D to slot home goal with a reverse stick strike.
But Banbury took their foot off the gas and Brighton’s strong centre midfielder bundled through to score a tap-in from a missed interception.
After the break the visitors gave Banbury a lot of trouble. They pressed high, cut out all options and the hosts floundered time and time again on the ball, which led to Brighton squeezing in another goal.
Banbury bounced back and from a well executed short corner Jones deflected Lapper’s shot home to give the home team a two-goal cushion again. But that seemed to motivate Brighton and they were all over the pitch.
They put Banbury under pressure in all positions and cut out all passing options, Banbury couldn’t cope and conceded two sloppy goals with five minutes to go. With Banbury’s forwards marked out the game, each attack came to nothing and Brighton pounded the Banbury defence.
With two minutes to go, Brighton charged round the line in the D and pushed the ball towards the goal, some sloppy defending led to them scoring the winning goal.
It was not the result Lapper wanted but it has been a solid first season in division two and, with several youngsters stepping up to the plate, the future is looking good.