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Bath drowned as girls remain on course to retain crown
Birmingham 1sts – 6 Bath 1sts – 2 Birmingham women’s hockey team progressed through to the final of the BUCS knockout cup where they will meet bitter rivals Lough...
Birmingham 1sts - 6
Bath 1sts - 2
Birmingham women's hockey team progressed through to the final of the BUCS knockout cup where they will meet bitter rivals Loughborough to defend their crown, after outplaying and defeating the University of Bath 6-2 in Wednesday's semi-final at Beeston hockey club in Nottingham.
Bath looked most likely to open the scoring in the early stages with the impressive Jenny Mashford, who made several good saves throughout, making a great double save from Lucy McNaught and Lucy Moir. Kirsty Dawson also did well to clear the ball off the line following a Zoe Shipperley shot from one of the four short corners the side had in the opening 10 minutes.
Birmingham weathered this storm and mid-way through the half won a short corner that was well worked, with Sarah Page and Sophie Bray linking up brilliantly before finding Emily Atkinson at the back post who applied the finish to open the scoring.
This lead was quickly doubled with Anna Griffiths stroking the ball into an empty net, after the ball had been squared to her from Page who had waltzed through the Bath defence with ease.
The West Midlanders had a chance a few minutes later to go three goals up, with Bray turning her marker Hannah Tsui before striking just past the far post.
The third goal did come soon after though, with Alice Sharp applying the finishing touch to a move she had started. Sharp easily dispossessed Bath midfielder Jo Slade on the half way line, driving forward before offloading to Elin Thomas on the left who in turn squared it back to Sharp who made no mistake from close range.
Bath came out strongly after the break, and found a way back into the game with Dani Black showing great composure by flicking the ball over the oncoming keeper and into the top left of the net.
Any hopes of a comeback were short-lived, however, as Page grabbed a goal to restore the three goal deficit soon after, finishing well into the bottom left corner after Sharp's close range shot had rebounded to her following a good save from Harriett Stretton.
Bath then had a period of sustained pressure with Sarah Haycroft clearing off the line from a short corner after the keeper had been beaten, while Mashford made yet another fine save to deny Pip Mitchell after being set-up well by Bath skipper Emma Batten.
With 20 minutes to play, Abby Webb put the game well and truly out of Bath's reach, smashing home into the empty net after Griffiths had done well to slip the ball past the keeper who had perhaps wrongly opted to rush out.
The Somerset side did manage to salvage another goal with a few minutes left on the clock, giving the travelling contingent who had made the long journey north something to cheer about, with Jess Rickman capitalising on the loose ball after the Birmingham defence had tried to pass their way out of a congested area.
There was still enough time for Birmingham to go up the other end and score a sixth, with four-goal hero from the previous round Sophie Bray making no mistake from close range to make it 6-2.
Brum coach Phil Gooderham, said: 'I'm delighted with the girl's performance. They played very well, created lots of chances and thoroughly deserved progressing through to their third consecutive final.'
Sarah Page, the skipper, reiterated Gooderham's words saying: 'everyone played really well and all the hard work has definitely paid off as we are really excited about reaching yet another final.'
Written by Rory Millar