Midland Ladies Hockey League - Midlands Feeder East League
Women's League - Division 2
Barton Ladies 1st XI 0
Sutton Coldfield Ladies 2nd XI 1
Barton ladies welcomed top of the table Sutton Coldfield to Shobnall on Saturday for the first league game in Midlands Division 2 since the winter break. Barton were without centre back Helen Bloxham but Bernie Fossett slotted into the back line alongside Manda Kirkland, Julie Manning and Amanda Ford. As expected, Sutton dominated possession throughout the match but the home side looked bright and alert from the first whistle and showed bundles of determination and discipline which bodes well for their fight for survival in this league.
Sutton worked the ball well in all areas of the pitch but Barton stuck to their task defensively and denied the league leaders any clear cut chances inside the D. Julie Manning and Carol Watson down the Barton right worked effectively in tandem throughout the first half providing an outlet from defence and working hard to cut out Sutton through balls from midfield. Fossett was sharp at the back and beat the Sutton forwards to the ball on the numerous occasions much to the frustration of the visitors. Barton’s forays into their attacking half were few and far between and the scoreline at half time remained at 0-0.
The message at half time from skipper Hannah Smith was more of the same from the Barton side. The team knew Sutton would be piling on the pressure for the next thirty five minutes and Barton would need to stay both mentally and physically strong. On the restart, Barton were once again immediately on the back foot as Sutton had the luxury of a packed bench to rotate their players and some lively running from the Sutton midfield forced a series of penalty corners. Kirkland, Barton’s number one runner at corners, was out sharp to the top of the D and Barton’s goalkeeper Connie Wain made several superb clearances to deny the away side. The game continued in much the same vain with Sutton camped in the Barton half but struggling to create the space to open up any clear cut chances on goal, much to the credit of the Barton marking and decision making at the back. Justine Woodcock and Beckie Hickman protected the centre of the pitch with great discipline and Sutton were forced wide. Steph Welch and Jo Preston hustled and harried in the wide areas as the whole Barton team gave every ounce of effort to the cause. Barton hearts were broken late in the second half as Sutton finally broke the deadlock from a well worked penalty corner routine which saw the ball deflected from close range into the Barton net.
Barton should take great pride and positivity from this narrow defeat to the league leaders. Next week the team travel to Solihull Blossomfield and will be looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat suffered in the first half of the season.