Bedford’s tough start to life back in the Investec Hockey League continued after they lost their third straight game on Saturday, going down 2-0 at Chelmsford.
Beth Noble came into the squad for her first national league appearance, while Kelly Bingham returned for the unavailable Nic Pether and Becky Childs.
The Maroons made a positive start to the match, with captain Sherri Skene leading the way with her strong tackling, interceptions and general intensity which surged Bedford forward.
Bedford’s press was functioning well, forcing turnovers from the Greens which saw SJ Darrington crash a ball across the circle while Bingham saw her shot stopped by a foot leading to a short corner.
Katherine Winger stepped up on the strike but the Chelmsford keeper got down well to her right to repel the ball off the back line.
Clare Beattie also had a penalty corner switch strike blocked and Bingham couldn’t control a through ball from Skene at the top of the circle.
After this prolonged spell of pressure, Bedford were dealt a strong warning with the first Chelmsford counter-attack which resulted in a narrow miss.
Gradually Chelmsford were able to claw themselves back into the contest and, just before half-time, they took the lead from a penalty corner which took a few ricochets before a classy reverse stick lift finish put the Essex side 1-0 to the good.
In the second half, Bedford couldn’t reach the same level of quality in their general performance, although player of the match Rachel Jackson was a notable exception.
Alongside Jackson, Emma Pinny was also kept busy and made some vital interventions as Chelmsford started to up their levels and ball pace.
After 43 minutes, Chelmsford extended their lead when they managed an overload on the left and a crash ball sent into the circle was well picked up by a Green forward who turned and shot past keeper Leanne Sargeant.
Sargeant earned her stripes throughout the second half with some excellent saves, but Bedford couldn’t convert their possession into open play chances.
Chelmsford saw the game out with a spell of controlled possession and took all three points.