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Holcombe beaten 2-1 by Beeston at Lee Valley in England Hockey Tier One Championship final

Holcombe were beaten 2-1 by Beeston in Monday’s England Hockey Tier One Championship final.

Hattie Jones on the scoresheet for Nick Bandurak’s side, who were chasing a unique treble, having already secured an immediate return to the Premier Division via a second-placed finish in Division One South, as well as having won promotion to the Super 6s Premier Division after winning Division One in January.

Hattie Jones scored Holcombe’s goal in their 2-1 Championship final defeat Picture: Jon Goodall
Hattie Jones scored Holcombe’s goal in their 2-1 Championship final defeat Picture: Jon Goodall

Report by Lucas Ball

Holcs had the better of the first half with a number of chances before the Bees scored twice through Lucy Millington and Lottie Summers in the third and fourth quarters.

Jones pulled one back with three minutes remaining as Holcs piled on late pressure, but a super last-minute save from Steph Tirrell meant that Beeston held on for their third consecutive Tier One title and fourth in five seasons.

Holcs’ calmness on the ball through transfers was not matched by their opponents early on, James Sordillo’s side giving up possession deep in their own territory on a number of occasions in the first half or being forced into often-hopeful aerials.

That being said, the first penalty corner of the game did come Beeston’s way as Tilly Woodhead made a good save from a reverse effort seven minutes in, before Holcs tried a variation at their first corner five minutes later which did not quite pay off.

As the quarter-of-an-hour mark neared, Holcs’ high-press looked like it might pay dividends as Tilly Tillings and then Hannah Carney won the ball from Beeston defenders, the latter put under heavy pressure by Tirrell as she looked to work the space for a shot.

It was Tillings’ turn just minutes later as she again won the ball on the edge of the circle, driving past a defender before striking a great reverse effort across goal, Tirrell stretching to make a good save to deny Tillings a first Holcombe goal.

Two more penalty corners came midway through the second period for Holcombe, with Emma Bandurak striking the first onto a Beeston foot before the second was well-defended.

Woodhead was again called into action soon after at the other end in a relatively low-key second quarter.

Nine minutes into the second half, the Nottingham side hit the front through Millington from a well-worked corner variation but Holcs could have levelled quickly after as another penalty corner was deflected just wide, Jones agonisingly close to a decisive touch on the far post.

Summers extended the lead with 11 minutes remaining – Holcs temporarily down to 10 at the time after Bandurak was shown a green card – cutting in from the left-hand-side before striking past Woodhead, who was withdrawn a few minutes later as Holcs switched to 11 outfield players with two goals needed quickly but that wasn’t before she made another save as Beeston looked to put the game beyond doubt.

Catherine Ledesma then won Holcs a penalty corner following a great driving run down the right, the ball eventually finding its way to Jones who calmly finished from close range to halve the deficit.

Holcs won three more corners in the dying embers of the match as they looked to send the game to a shootout, the first cleared by Beeston before the second led to a re-award on the full-time whistle, Tirrell making a lunging stop to deny Bandurak a late, late equaliser.

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