Bedford Ladies firsts made a strong start to the East Women’s League Premier Division season with a 5-2 home win over Old Loughts on Saturday.
Newly appointed coach Tom Hewitt took charge of the squad for the first time in a competitive fixture and retained all of the core players from last season who finished second in the league with Ellie Priston and Pippa Jones the only new additions.
Becca Budd unfortunately failed to recover from a calf injury sustained in pre-season, as Bedford started at a high intensity, pressing their youthful opponents at every opportunity.
Bedford soon made a mark on the scoresheet as star player Jones found some space in the circle and produced an accurate finish.
Captain Rachel Jackson doubled the lead from the first short corner with a direct strike into the bottom corner.
The hosts continued to dominate but were guilty of not capitalising from some good positions with a lack of incision in the final pass while the Loughts keeper denied Andrea Mason.
Just before half time the visitors from Essex enjoyed a good spell and scored with their first effort on target.
After the break Bedford continued to control the game.
SJ Darrington, Harri Kinnear and Jenna Maclaren were able to burst forward from defence whilst Emma Pinny was always in pole position to win the ball back for the maroons now supported by Bedford Consulting Rooms.
That was the theme with Bedford’s next two goals; high pressure led to two turnovers from Jones and Mason setting up goals from Steph Holyoak and Kate Costin respectably.
Loughts were able to counterattack to good effect, pulling a goal back from a penalty corner second phase.
To help see the game out, Charlotte Holland and Becky Tarrant in midfield kept their composure whilst Priston put in a solid display on her Bedford return from university.
There was just time late on for Beth Noble to add a fifth goal from a corner routine to see Bedford take an early lead in the East Premier League; a lead they will be looking to maintain next weekend at home to Wapping.
The IIs were 5-1 winners at Bury St Edmunds in their Division One North meeting at the weekend.
The IIIs lost 2-1 at Blueharts IIs in their Five Counties League Premier Division clash, while the IVs hammered Royston IIIs in Division Three.
The Vs defeated Chiltern IIIs 4-0 in Division Four and the VIs lost 1-0 at Broxbourne Vs in Division Five.