Ruthless Birmingham ease past spirited Palatinates

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The women’s hockey 1st XI succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of reigning champions Birmingham on Wednesday. Durham, who cruised to a 6-0 victory in Manchester last week, went into the game at Maiden Castle as strong underdogs.  However, they started the game on top, and showed no fear against a strong Birmingham team. Durham were assured in possession, and when they lost the ball they pushed up to pressurise their opponents.

This was best exemplified when Laura Bevan lost the ball, but rushed to win it back from her opponent and make a run into the Birmingham penalty area. Although nothing came of it, the move was a statement of Durham’s intent.

The first shot of the game came from Durham’s Alice Freeman, which went just wide of the Birmingham goal having taken a deflection.

Despite pressing well, Durham looked shaky in defence. Warning sirens started to sound when, midway through the first half, a Birmingham player went on a marauding run into the Durham penalty area, before smashing the ball wide of Meline Musolf’s left hand post.

The Durham defence was called into question once again when a low cross was put behind by Cat McLellan. Had McLellan not made the interception, the Birmingham forward would have had a simple tap in.

Another determined Birmingham run meant Musolf was called into action again, doing well to palm the ball away with her right hand.

After a long period trapped inside their own half, Durham carried the ball out of defence with Nancy Picton, who set up Ellen Paterson. Her shot was well blocked, and as a result the team’s went into half time level.

However, the beginning of the second half brought a sudden change of momentum, as an even game swung emphatically in Birmingham’s favour. After the ball was given away inside Durham’s own area, Birmingham were in on goal. Although Musolf did well to save the first shot, she was powerless to stop the rebound hitting the top right corner of the net.

Just minutes later, Birmingham doubled their lead, after a low shot deflected into the bottom right corner of the net.

In truth, the second goal ended the match as a contest. Durham struggled to form any meaningful attacks, and the rest of the game was focused on limiting the damage, as a rampant Birmingham continued to attack the Durham goal.

Having had to see their team defend for so long, the spectators rose to their feet following a skilful run by Paterson, which saw her beat three Birmingham players.

It was stark consolation, however, as Birmingham saw out the match. Durham, who still sit second in the Premier North table.

 

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