HOCKEY: Bedford Ladies seal promotion

Bedford Ladies

Bedford Ladies

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Bedford HC Ladies have returned to the National League after winning the East Women’s League Premier Division title at the weekend.

The women picked up a draw and a victory in their double header weekend against Brom Becks and Maidstone respectably to be crowned champions.

With Brom Becks fighting to stave relegation, Bedford found themselves 2-0 down before they could blink with two uncharacteristic defensive lapses well capitalised on by the Kent side.

Bedford had a few changes to get back on level terms in the first half with chances for Steph Holyoak and Claire Higginson.

Andrea Mason also hit a first time shot wide and Becca Budd struck the post.

Coach Tom Hewitt called for big improvements at half time and MOTM Emma Pinny was instrumental in turning the game round in Bedford’s favour with some big tackles.

Bedford were upping their penalty corner count and captain Jackson stood up and struck her first goal of 2017 to give Bedford hope.

More chances were created as Costin hit the post and her reverse stick effort was saved by the Brom Becks keeper.

Full backs SJ Darrington, Harri Kinnear and Beth Nobel bombed forward at every occasion and Maclaren was setting the tempo from the back.

With 10 minutes to go another corner brought Bedford back on level terms with Jackson’s strike being deflected into the corner where Holyoak and the Brom Becks defender ensured it went in.

Bedford pressed again but Brom Becks held firm and even had a chance of their own to win it in the final stages only for the Maroons defence to hold strong for a 2-2 draw.

After an overnight stay, Bedford faced Maidstone on Sunday knowing a win would see them crowned as champions.

From the outset, Bedford pressed their opponents defence and frequently won turnovers. Charlotte Holland enjoyed an excellent game with her running and movement too much for the opposition.

Claire Higginson was first on the scoresheet from a Bedford set piece but then a Maidstone short corner goal threw a spanner in the works and brought it back to 1-1.

Bedford responded well and Charlotte Holland and Sam Turner both converted at the back post, the latter being her first Bedford goal.

Before half time there was still time for Higginson to grab her brace and the second half was a very comfortable affair for the champions elect although they were unable to turn their pressure into goals.

The final whistle saw Bedford confirmed as deserved champions with two games to spare with Leanne Sargeant having the best defensive record in the league. Saturday sees Bedford host relegated Norwich City before the league finishes on Sunday away at Holcombe.