The CRHC L2s, riding high on belief from their win the week before, came out onto the pitch fighting in their last match before the season break. The majority of the play in the first quarter was in Clifton’s attacking half, with the team applying great pressure, creating chances and putting Witney’s defence through its paces. The quarter ended with no score, but the strong start gave every hope of a Clifton win.

As the second quarter got underway, both sides determined to break the deadlock. At about 5 minutes in, three back-to-back penalty corners to Clifton seemed suggested that a goal was within sight. Then, a fourth corner to Clifton, about 3 minutes from the end of the quarter, and a superb, unstoppable strike from Captain Jules Gardner, put Clifton in the lead. Witney, though, were not to be broken and a penalty corner in the last seconds gave them a conversion. Once again, everything was square.

If Quarter 3 was without drama, Quarter 4 made up for it. A controversial Witney goal, contested but ultimately given, put the Oxfordshire side ahead, and it was Witney’s turn to drive hard in their attack. Fast, strong, tenacious and relentless Clifton defence seemed to be enough to keep the visitors from stretching their lead, but a penalty corner to Witney 8 minutes into the final quarter came good, putting them 1–3 ahead and making Clifton’s job of coming back even harder. Significant pressure ensued and yet more strong defending from Clifton, but emotions were running high and Clifton couldn’t find their stride in the closing minutes – Witney left for home triumphant.

There’s no denying that this was a tough match for the Ladies’ 2s. In their own play, they showed flair, experience and ability against strong opposition. But they also faced key decisions that just didn’t go their way – bitter pills that, one way or another, this time cost them dearly.

Matches elsewhere in the league mean that the Ladies’ 2s close the first half of the season in penultimate table position. There is incredible potential in this team – the break is time to rest, re-group and come back in January stronger and more determined than ever.

Judy Barratt

Alex Kirkpatrick

Probably on the physio table