Buckingham Athletic Ladies – 2
City Belles – 0
As long as Buckingham Athletic Ladies avoid defeat on Wednesday 18th April at home to Banbury United, they will be crowned champions of the Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League Division Two North, after two goals from ever reliable Evie Hawkins downed the City Belles & left the fate of the title firmly in Athletics hands. The game next week is Banbury’s final game, with the side’s level on points a draw will be enough as Buckingham have the superior goal difference, and also another two games in hand yet to play.
A grey afternoon with plenty of rain did not help conditions, in a game where plenty of chances were created but only two converted. The home side dominated the game and on four minutes a clearance from the Belles defence fell to Lauren Baker-Hawes some thirty yards from goal, attempting to emulate her goal from the last home game she aimed the perfect drive towards Christina Jesty in the Belles goal but it dipped comfortably into her gloves.
The first City attack saw Chelsea Jefferys get down their right wing but her cross landed on top of Ellen Fenables goal netting, and at the other end some patient build up from the hosts resulted in Kayleigh Harwood fiercely driving at goal from outside the box but straight at Jesty. The home side took the lead on twelve minutes when a ball in behind for Hawkins to chase down saw her away, her pace simply took her away from everyone and from the edge of the six-yard box she coolly slotted home.
Jade Copas then got down the right wing, her cross into the box almost found Hawkins again but for a last ditch block from a defender who cleared. Minutes later a throw out from goal by Jesty was aimed at her team mate Courtney Crawley who wasn’t aware of the ball coming to her, Harwood was on it in a flash and away, her cross from the byline was met by a glancing header by Copas that flew across the goal face but wide of the back post.
Belles fought back when Zoe Griffiths fed in Jefferys on the eighteen yard line but her shot was straight at Fenables, and just past the half hour mark Buckingham were adamant they had scored a second but the official would not give it as he couldn’t be certain the ball had crossed the line. A close range shot from Kerry Stapleton saw Jesty get something on the ball, Chloe Beale behind her went to control but instead allowed the ball to bounce off her boot and towards the empty goal, she dived in to clear with the home team calling goal, her clearance then hit the post and bounced out into the penalty area and was cleared.
Copas then had a chance when played in behind, she travelled twenty yards with freedom but fired straight at Jesty who blocked and a defender was on hand to clear, before a Rachel Thorpe cross was flicked on by Stapleton and at the back post Dani Roberts lifted over the crossbar. On the stroke of half-time another effort from Baker-Hawes this time from just inside the Belles half saw the ball loop up and goalwards, it would have gone in but Jesty was happy to gather with both hands. H/T: 1-0
An early second half cross into the visitors box was knocked down to Copas, from twelve yards she tried to angle the ball into the far top corner and was only a few feet off target, before Hawkins on the opposite side twisted away from a marker and saw her shot flash across the goal mouth but wide of the back post.
An Athletic corner from Emma Marshall was cleared to the edge of the area, where Copas was first to it but she could only lift high over the bar, before another corner was cleared again by the Belles backline, advancing from her defensive duties Lily Hamp met the ball, took a touch before firing into the hands of Jesty.
Athletic finally doubled their advantage on sixty-eight minutes, a right wing cross from Thorpe picked out Hawkins smack in the middle of goal, and she had time to control before smashing home despite the best efforts of Beale who made up some ground in an effort to block. Thorpe then provided a simple pass through the middle of the visitors defence for Hawkins again, but from twelve yards she lifted over the bar.
Copas crossed from the right and a flying header from Thorpe then got a deflection off Abi Smith which bounced up off the crossbar and over for a corner. A throw to Belles then saw Griffiths in behind, but from an acute angle she drove low towards the near post where Fenables had to get down and smother. Thorpe then broke away after evading a tackle from Courtney Davey-Ward, striding into the eighteen yard box she could only fire straight at Jesty.
Hawkins had a late chance blocked by Jesty, and then Thorpe got away down the left and headed for goal, from twelve yards she fired across goal and a few feet agonisingly wide of the back post. The final chance fell to skipper Stapleton, who from the corner of the box fired at goal only to watch the ball graze the top of the netting as it went over.
The final whistle sounded & with Banbury winning their penultimate game of the season, it leaves the top two clash next Wednesday as a possible title decider, but before all that Carmen Robinson’s side travel down to Slough Town this weekend to face Premier Division high flyers Abingdon United in the Berks & Bucks cup final. F/T: 2-0
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