For a second year in a row, Bedford Hockey Club were runners-up in the England Hockey Mixed Trophy after a 3-0 final defeat against Harleston Magpies at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
The Bedford mixed team made the final of the competition after a 2-1 semi-final win against Horsham, but were outplayed in the final by Harleston who ran out worthy 3-0 winners.
Bedford had secured a place in the final on Saturday after two second half goals from Alex Drummond sealed a deserved 2-1 victory.
James Bilham and Emma Pinny marshalled the game well in the screen roles, while Simba Chigwada was a constant threat to Horsham with his pace and power.
As the half wore on, Bedford found themselves down to nine players after yellow cards for Rob Tarrant and Matt Wilson, but Simon Dolan in the Bedford goal was equal to the Horsham pressure.
Bedford stepped up their game in the second half and Chigwada earned a penalty stroke after being taken out by the Horsham keeper; Drummond stepped up to coolly convert.
Bedford quickly doubled their lead after a flowing attacking move saw Drummond finish a diving shot on his reverse with aplomb.
Again Bedford were reduced to 10 players, and a fine individual finish to brought the scores back to 2-1.
However, Bedford held on – with Dan Mason adding his calmness in the final stages – to set up a final against East rivals Harleston Magpies.
Bedford knew they needed to be at their best to claim the trophy but were confident they could improve on their semi final showing and make amends for a thrashing in last year’s final against West Herts.
Bedford made the brighter start, but it was a first half of few chances for the Maroons, with the Magpies captain controlling proceedings from the back.
Bedford looked the more likely but found themselves 1-0 down from a controversial short corner which appeared to be over back board height before being deflected past Dolan.
The Magpies then doubled their lead after a flowing move and emphatic strike, heading into the break with a 2-0 cushion.
Bedford tried to refocus on the basics and stepped up their game after the break – SJ Darrington and Matt Wilson were combining nicely down the right and this time it was Harleston who found themselves numbers down.
However, their defence was standing firm and in fact it was Bedford who were grateful to Drummond for a phenomenal goal-line clearance from a corner to keep them in the game.
Bedford started to create opportunities in front of goal, with Wilson denied from close range while Mason fired over on his reverse.
It just wasn’t to be for Bedford and, for all their effort, they couldn’t match the Magpies’ quality on the day.
Harleston scored a third from a penalty stroke and Becky Childs couldn’t quite reach a cross fired towards the back post, confirming it was Harleston who took the trophy home back to Norfolk.