Kirkby Stephen Ladies 1s went into their last game of the season with nothing to lose but it all to play for. The fight at the top of top of the North West Premier League was even grabbing attention from England Hockey with Kirkby lurking in 3rd position, a win against the top of the table Liverpool Sefton would mean taking the promotion place, and 2nd place Bowdon would need a high scoring win to take 1st place.
“It is incredibly tight at the top of the North West Women’s Premier Division, with just one round of games remaining this Saturday. Liverpool Sefton and Bowdon 2 are level on 49 points, but Kirkby Stephen are lurking in third on 46 points – and they host Sefton this weekend. That game takes place at 1pm, and if Sefton win they would go three points clear with a goal difference better than Bowdon’s by at least +5. Bowdon would then need a big win at home to Lancaster in their 3:45pm match. However if Kirkby Stephen win the early match, they would themselves go top, with a goal difference at least +6 better than Bowdon, but Bowdon would then only need a point to take the title.”
All eyes were on the fight between Kirkby and Sefton at Kirkby Stephen with a spectacular home crowd cheering the local ladies on. As expected the game starting with high intensity with both teams moving the ball fast but it was Liverpool who took the early lead after a quick break and a great deflection from the opposition.
This pushed the home side to step up to the next gear, and shortly after equalised when Martha Bainbridge won a penalty corner. Anna Pigney injected the ball, but the opposition reacted too quick and had to send a defender to the halfway line. And yet again, with Pigneys injection, the second defender was sent to the halfway line; leaving the keeper & 2 defenders in the goal to defend the next penalty corner. On the 3rd attempt the ball was sent to the top of the D to Heidi Maughan, Maughan slipped the ball to the right, where Anthea Bowman pushed the ball onto the left post and Anna tapped it in over the line, 1-1, the amazing homeside crowd roared!
Kirkby Stephen then lead the game with another short corner, where Tilly Rose injected the ball to the top, and Martha Bainbridge perfectly placed the ball through all the sticks and into the backboard, 2-1. Further encouragement from the sidelines cheering on the home side.
Sefton then felt the serious pressure, as their top of the league title was slowly drifting away from them. They soon stepped up, and pinged the ball into the back of the net from another unstoppable deflection, 2-2. Unfortunately with 5 minutes to go, Sefton confirmed their title with another textbook finish.
Kirkby Stephen had a remarkable game, with every player giving 110%. Starting with Mags Donnelly, Martha Bainbridge and Anna Pigney hassling up front, creating so much space with their lovely runs, and playing some superb balls. Then for the midfield, Anthea Bowman, Tilly Rose, Heidi Maughan, Catherine Ewbank, Rachael Gowing and Nicole Clegg, who all covered so much mileage, running back and forth to pack in the centre structure of the team, finding and creating some amazing set pieces, as well as helping the defenders win the ball off the opposition. Then we reach Sophie and her angels; Goalkeeper Sophie Winder made some remarkable saves, with Sefton shooting at all angles, and defence, Vicki Capstick, Lilia Hutchinson and Jenny Coates, who did not show any fear tackling some fierce shots and movements in attack. And not to forget, Janette McWhirter and Lucy Potter coaching & subbing on the side-line; their support on & off the pitch, positivity and passion shone through the team on the pitch.
Man of the match was awarded to Sophie Winder for her reactions in the net that kept the game so close for the 70 minutes; a perfect way to finish another terrific season for Sophie!
Kirkby Stephen 1st team only just missed promotion into the National League, but what an amazing achievement for the little of Kirkby Stephen to finish 3rd position in the North West Premier League. After some difficult injuries this season, it has been breath-taking to watch the 14 year olds step up to adult hockey with such confidence, skill & stamina. The 1st team’s achievements is reflective on the 2nd & 3rd team, and of course the Mini’s & Junior’s. Thank you to all who have got involved with a successful season of 2021/22, from parents driving their kids to Macclesfield, to players & coaches turning up to the blustery weather at KSGS.
Bring on next year, the future is going to be amazing!!!
Picture- back row (L to R) : Janette McWhirter (Head Coach), Catherine Ewbank, Vicki Capstick, Jenny Coates, Sophie Winder, Rachael Gowing (Captain), Heidi Maughan, Anna Pigney and Lucy Potter (former player & Assistant Coach).
Front row (L to R) : Martha Bainbridge, Tilly Rose, Lilia Hutchinson, Anthea Bowman, Nicole Clegg and Mags Donnelly.