Bourne Deeping Ladies 1sts opened up a three-point gap at the top of Division 4NW after thrilling 5-4 victory over title rivals Cambridge City 3rds on Saturday.
From the off set, both sides showed team strength, endurance and commitment in what was an extremely fast paced off the ball game.
For a while Cambridge City were rattled by the Dragons whose skills won quick possession.
Sue Oakley and Becky Warters worked tirelessly with Carole Murray joining up between defence and the forward line where Izzie Oakley, Maisie Brownlow and Sophie Brittain converted all of the team’s hard work and effort into a 3-0 lead.
Cambridge City quickly identified the need to change tactics though and upped the pace to stun the Dragons with three goals of their own to draw level.
Goalkeeper Phoebe Martin then made some first class saves and gave team members support from the back to ensure the Bourne Deeping defence was as effective as it could have been on the day.
Emily Murray made some sweeping moves down the right, taking the Cambridge City defence by surprise where she was able to feed the ball into the attacking line.
There was plenty of attacking opportunities for the Dragons who had a number of short corners which saw some excellent duel work among team mates Warters and Murray in the D.
Attacker Oakley took possession in the D and dominated the Cambs City defence by scoring three goals in total throughout the match as Dragons emerged crucial 5-4 victors from an extremely tough game.
Bourne Deeping Ladies 2nds maintained top position in Division 4NW after a 6-1 home victory against Woodhall Spa on Saturday.
The Dragons got off to a solid start with some strong solid hockey in midfield which allowed Cam Braid to make a great run down the wing and get an early break and cross into the D where Kirsty Martin took the opportunity to strike on goal and score.
Dragons took control of the game, giving the visitors lots to be concerned over, and Woodhall’s defensive errors in the D gave them a short corner and with a well-drilled effort Millie Durrands managed to double the scoreline.
There were plenty of other scoring opportunities during the first half with great crosses coming into the D from midfield and the wing but the Dragons failed to get the final touch on the ball.
Woodall Spa came out with positivity and enthusiasm for the fight in the second half, however, Nadine Curtis covered the defensive line.
The visitors kept persisting before scoring their first goal from an error and a penalty corner bringing the score to 2-1 and a change in an attacking game play as the Dragons knew goal difference is required in this league.
The midfield kept their heads strong with great distribution with Martin and Lily Fitch driving the ball around the players and encroaching the visitors D with support from Dawn McShane.
With the relentless attacks it eventually paid off with the third goal scored by Sara Morgan-Walters with assistance by Durrands.
Continuous short passes and quick runs from the midfield and wing applied pressure to Woodhall’s defence, winning several long corners to be able to take advantage once more allowing Martin to beat two defenders and score her second goal, to put the Dragons firmly in the lead.
With Woodhall Spa putting up a strong fight and being stretched, the Dragons took an early ball driving it into the D, Ella Henson had her stick ready for a successful rebound, for a 5-1 lead.
The Dragons maintained their strong passing in the midfield to keep the ball in the visitors’ half and Durrands scored her second and the sixth goal before the final whistle.
Sian Manzur struck a debut goal to help Bourne Deeping Ladies 3rds to a 3-1 success over Alford in Division 4NW.
The first half included lots of passing and strong defence from the back line.
With some strong passes from Manzur, Kat Kennedy, Gill Flook and Janet Eagle-Brown, the ladies put pressure on Alford’s defence.
The Dragons kept the pressure on and this paid off as they pushed the ball further and further up the pitch with strong passes from Flook, Eagle-Brown, Alessia Russo and Manzur which resulted in a well-earned goal for Kennedy.
Bourne Deeping continued to put pressure on Alford which gained them a short corner that was narrowly missed by Jax Clark.
However, the Dragons continued to fight for the ball and with a great deflection from Manzur, in her first game with the ladies, they doubled their lead.
In the second half, there was more great play from both teams with some great defending and some good passing between Vicky Edwards and Clark.
Goalkeeper Rose Taylor-Jackson made another save, however, Alford managed to get two consecutive short corners that resulted in a goal.
The Dragons continued to attack confidently and Eagle-Brown managed to score the third goal before Flook fired an effort against the crossbar in the dying stages
Bourne Deeping 2nds returned to action last weekend after the Christmas break with a competent 6-2 home victory against local rivals City of Peterborough.
They began the game eager to get back into the swing of things and were successful in having the lion’s share of possession.
This was only broken when rustiness became apparent with occasional mistraps, passes going astray and weak finishing in the early minutes.
However, it was not long until the deadlock was broken when Robin Edlington latched onto a forward pass, rounded his marker and slotted under the advancing keeper. It was a very clinical finish from the young forward.
A second soon followed and it was Ollie Browne who finished superbly with a sweetly-struck reverse hit - a collector’s item if there ever was one.
Bourne Deeping were now looking comfortable but with this complacency crept in and Peterborough pulled one back against the run of play.
This was clearly frustrating for the Bourne Deeping players and it was apparent in their play as they were lacking fluency.
Fortunately a rare Richie Collins goal, making a cameo appearance for the day, changed the complexion of the game going into half-time.
Bourne Deeping were the stronger but captain James Tavernor was looking for his team to show this with a more-rounded performance they were more than capable of.
The second half started much like the first with continued possession for Bourne Deeping.
Goal number four came from a Tavernor penalty stroke after a Peterborough player had been correctly adjudged to have blocked the ball on the line from an Edlington shot.
This was soon followed by Edlington’s second of the day who, showing his predatory instincts, to beat his opposing man to a crossfield pass and finish past the keeper.
This should have been the time for Bourne Deeping to pull away but again they were pegged back with a Peterborough swift counter attack which had caused disorganisation in the Dragons defence.
The game closed with a very polished short corner routine that was dispatched by Andrew Dodds.
The Dragons will be happy to off the mark for 2018 with the 6-2 win but are well aware that this was not their strongest performance so still have work to do.
They travel south to St Neots this Saturday trying to improve on their entertaining 3-3 draw earlier in the season.
Bourne Deeping 3rds suffered a sense of deja vu in a 7-1 Division 4NW defeat to Wisbech 2nds.
As with the reverse fixture Bourne Deeping took the lead, this time via an Andrew Vartan converted short corner coming after a competitive first 10 minutes.
This was shortly followed by a similar goal at the other end and then by two very fortuitous goals, which started to take the game away from the home team.
With Bourne Deeping chasing the game, Wisbech took advantage of holes left in the defence and scored with too much ease in the second period.
Regardless these errors handed the opportunities to the away team, which they took with aplomb. There is plenty to work on for the 3rds on the training ground.
Bourne Deeping 4ths were edged out in a close encounter with Cambridge Nomads 2nds in their Division 4NW clash.
Both sides pressed and created chances with the 4ths having the better chances in the first half but not able to take advantage.
Nomads scored first aided by some defensive errors however the 4ths pushed and managed to win a short corner from which Steadman found Waldron via an opposition deflection for Waldron to calmly knock a chest height ball past the keeper.
Tom Day was lost to an injury at the end of the first half, and the rest of the game was stretched.
The 4ths had several two-on-one opportunities which they just could not find the right pass.
Towards the end of the game a missed foot by the umpire led to Nomads getting a lucky second which was harsh on Dragons.