By Kishan Vaghela
Durham University’s Women’s Hockey 1st XI came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw with league leaders the University of Edinburgh at Maiden Castle.
The visitors controlled the fierce opening exchanges, with their concerted pressing game forcing Durham into early errors. With the first effort on goal of any note, they deservedly took the lead, with Rebecca Dru converting from a well-executed short corner routine. Edinburgh’s high intensity game could have seen them go further in front had they been able to convert the low balls that were driven into Durham’s ‘D’.
However, the Palatinates fought back and equalised through Laura Bevan’s effort from just a few metres out. A few minutes later Edinburgh’s Katie Hibbert suffered a suspected concussion after an attempted aerial pass struck her on the forehead. After the long stoppage in play and Durham’s improved pressing game, neither side was able to take control for a sustained period, resulting in a very cagey affair for the rest of the half.
The second half began in the same vein as the first, with Edinburgh applying much of the early pressure, however this time they failed to create the chance to allow them to retake the lead. Rather, it was the home side who seemed more threatening, with goalscorer Bevan striking wide after lovely interchanging play and Anna Baker being denied by Edinburgh goalkeeper Nicola Cochrane after being put through by captain Molly Rawnsley.
However, shots on goal were a rarity until the latter stages of the game as both sides struggled to execute the decisive pass, such as the overhit pass from Durham’s Patterson, which, had it been weighted correctly, would have seen Rebecca Rabey-Smith through on goal.
Nevertheless, short corners proved to be Edinburgh’s strength and the Palatinates’ nemesis, and although Durham goalkeeper Katie Brauer saved the first of two in quick succession, she had no chance with Clare Hill’s effort into the bottom right-hand corner.
Durham had a short corner of their own shortly afterwards, but Jules Inverdale’s hit deflected off her own teammate Kitty McWirter and over. The hosts were not to be denied an equaliser though, as Cochrane’s save from Bevan’s reverse stick shot fell to Baker, who tapped home from a yard out.
Durham vice-captain Baker praised her side’s determination to fight back on two occasions. “We came into this game thinking about pride, we weren’t going to let Edinburgh beat us, so going 1-0 down we knew we had to fight back.
“It just shows how much the team worked together and put up a good performance and proved we weren’t going to get beaten”
Baker also rallied the troops in a bid to catch Edinburgh, who remain three points ahead of the Palatinates, stating that “we’re going to learn from today, we’ve learnt some really good lessons on how to go out fighting and put up a good performance, so we’re going to take that through with us to Birmingham”.
Photograph: Kishan Vaghela