HOCKEY: Draw sees Bedford Ladies’ lead at top cut

Action from Bedford Ladies' clash with Cambridge Uni - pic: Elliott Smith
Action from Bedford Ladies' clash with Cambridge Uni - pic: Elliott Smith

A third draw on the bounce has seen Bedford HC Ladies ladies lead at the top of the East Women’s Premier Division table cut to just one point.

In an entertaining game at Chester Road on Saturday, Bedford let a 1-0 lead slip against a very competitive Cambridge Uni team, as the game finished 1-1.

With Sam Turner replacing the unavailable Harri Kinnear, Tom Hewitt and his Bedford squad were looking to return to winning ways after two consecutive league draws.

Cambridge made a bright start with their captain spraying disguised passes around the field and their forwards showing sharp movement.

Charlotte Holland had a few early sighters for Bedford but the Uni keeper made comfortable saves.

Cambridge had the best of the opening 20 minutes, moving the ball quickly and getting to the 50/50 balls first although didn’t create many scoring chances due to tight defending from the hosts.

Gradually, the Bedford press began to swing the game and force turnovers with Becca Budd and Emma Pinny getting frequent possession.

Bedford got the ball in wide areas but couldn’t quite find the right pass to create openings and the visiting defence were hungry to intercept.

The Maroons threatened from penalty corners with Pippa Jones going close.

Captain Rachel Jackson then struck a goal-shot bound which was stopped by a Uni foot in front of the line which gave leading scorer Kate Costin the chance to net the game’s first score.

Into the second half and the high-intensity match ebbed and flowed with both sides playing good hockey although there were too many unforced errors for Bedford’s liking.

The students got back on level terms from a set-piece when their captain slid a disguised effort past Leanne Sargeant.

Bedford responded by taking the game to their opponents with player of the match Costin creating openings for Steph Holyoak, Claire Higginson and Jones, but Bedford couldn’t capitalise and from penalty corners Cambridge defended resolutely.

At the other end, the students’ came close to connecting with a deflection at the back post from a set-piece but generally Bedford defended strongly with Beth Noble and Jenna Maclaren making interventions and captain Jackson and the experienced SJ Darrington marshalling well.

Holland had a snapshot while Sargeant had to be sharp to deny the Uni from point-blank range but ultimately the draw was a fair result.

Bedford’s lead at the top is now just a solitary point but they have two games in hand over second-placed Ipswich, who they face on the road this Saturday in a huge clash at Tuddenham Road.

Meanwhile, Bedford ladies’ IVs were officially promoted last weekend from Five Counties League Division Three.

Having notched an amazing 18 wins from 18 games, Naomi Stevens’ team won 4-0 against Stevenage to clinch mathematical promotion.

A victory while hosting second-placed Hertford this Saturday will see them crowned champions.