Buckingham Athletic Ladies – 6
Barton United Ladies – 3
A switch of venue less than two hours prior to kick off saw this fixture reversed back to Stratford Fields where the visitors only had eleven players for the ninety minutes, but they battled well and it took four attempts for Buckingham to take the lead before they managed to hold on to it and secure the points. Two goals in the final eleven minutes finally killed off the Barton resistance, yet another hattrick for leading scorer Evie Hawkins was secured in the final minute and after the game manager Carmen Robinson admitted it will be extremely difficult to replace her goals next season when the striker goes off to university.
From the kick off home skipper Kerry Stapleton released Alex Miller down the left channel where she drilled a shot low that beat United keeper Hollie Randall but came back off the foot of the post and across the open goalmouth, running in Hawkins pushed her effort wide of the target, moments later Barton threatened when Beverley Hirons was sent racing through the home backline but some alert goalkeeping from Ellen Fenables allowed her to accelerate and clear the danger, and a ball that looked lost when played down the Athletic right saw Hawkins chase it down and squared across to Stapleton who left footed curled around the top corner.
A corner to the hosts was flicked on inside the area towards the back of the box where a United player trying to head clear only managed to put the ball back into the eighteen yard area where Stapleton managed to control before seeing her shot canon off her marker for another corner, a goal kick was then headed back over the Barton backline for Hawkins to again get away but she could only help the ball on its path wide, and Nicole Britten sprung the offside trap as she scampered down the wing but she pulled her cross behind everyone in the box, it did reach Gemma Ball who controlled ahead of firing over the crossbar.
The hosts took the lead on eighteen minutes when a corner swung in found Stapleton whose initial shot was blocked but it offered her a second chance that took a deflection to loop over Randall and the spin meant it bounced in, but the lead lasted just five minutes as a cross from the visitors right found Courtney Sumner alone in front of goal where she swivelled to fire past Fenables. It wasn’t long before Hawkins was on the prowl again, a tackle from behind almost floored the Swans striker but she persevered to get her shot in which the keeper got enough on to stun with a team mate on hand to thump to safety.
Buckingham won a free kick on the edge of the penalty arc which Stapleton & Ball stood over mulling their options, the captain dummied her run for Ball to then angle an effort over the top, and within a minute their guests had a free kick in a similar position at the other end which Francesca Woolfe took and grazed the top of the netting as it sailed over. Just past the half hour mark the hosts regained the lead when a simple pass down their right from deep in their own half saw Hawkins away on goal again, despite the attention of two defenders she fired home from sixteen yards out.
Stapleton then had a run down the left and her shot came back off a defender where it was met on the eighteen yard line by Sam Jolley who drilled low past Randall’s right hand post, and a minute before the break a long upfield punt saw Sumner in behind the blue defence but always off balance she lifted over the top. As it seemed the half was done, the last action saw Barton grab their second equaliser when Hirons was threaded in between the defence and her shot took enough of a deflection of her marker to take it past Fenables and into the net. F/T: 2-2
Shortly after the restart Miller ran at the visiting defence but fired wide, her next attack saw her square behind the line of red shirts to Hawkins who sliding in could only steer wide, the next attack saw Hawkins down the flank beating the visitors attempted offside trap and accelerating off from her marker she was denied by a brave dive at her feet by Randall. From the goal kick the hosts retook the lead for the third time on fifty-two minutes, a simple header back downfield saw Stapleton all on her own, some hesitation arose as the wait for a flag that didn’t come allowed her to race away before blasting home giving the keeper no chance whatsoever.
Moments after the goal the captain was in again this time firing across goal and narrowly wide of the back post, but just seven minutes after going behind the visitors equalised again when a free kick lifted into the Athletic area wasn’t cleared and two United players almost got in each other’s way trying to shoot but Hirons eventually scooped home from close range. Back came the home side again, Miller down the left curled an effort inches wide of the upright, but on sixty-five minutes Hawkins grabbed her second of the afternoon when released straight down the middle to outpace her marker and from just inside the area fire home the seventh goal of the game.
This time there was no way back for the away side as their hosts pushed on from here, a ball over the top saw Stapleton down the flank and into the box but her shot was well saved by Randall with a defender on hand to thump to safety, Ball then collected in midfield and riding two tackles she slipped a pass through for Hawkins to chase, shoulder to shoulder with a defender and with the keeper coming out she went for goal only to watch her effort roll about two yards wide of the post, at the other end a long range looping effort from Sumner never had Fenables in any real trouble as she gathered with both hands.
Another Buckingham cross saw a block that rolled out to Jade Copas who slammed her shot against a red shirt, she collected again moments later and initially lost the ball under her feet but quickly regained her composure to lose her marker and go for goal, the ball landing on top of the netting. United then almost gifted their hosts another goal when a back pass towards Randall was never going to make it and Hawkins nipped in but as she went to pull the trigger the keeper was out to avert the danger by launching downfield.
On seventy-nine minutes Buckingham scored their fifth and effectively killed the game off once and for all, Hawkins was released away down the right and as she attacked the ball on the edge of the area both her, the Barton keeper and a defender all collided leaving the Athletic striker to go and collect out wide, as she attempted to cross into the box the Barton custodian was running back to cover and unfortunately her attempt to clear saw her slice into her own net. Stapleton then explored acres of space down the left before trying to find bodies in the middle, a block saw her get a second chance which she blazed over the bar.
A goal kick saw Copas intercept out wide, she laid off into the path of her skipper who travelled into the area but Randall was out quick to dive bravely at her feet, ahead of a superb pass down the right from Dani Roberts saw Hawkins away again and into the box, her effort however straight at the goalkeeper. As the clock ticked over into added time, Copas found Hawkins out wide and her cross cum shot sailed over the outstretched glove of the keeper and into the back of the net for her third of the game. F/T: 6-3
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