Take a Bow! Tina’s on a High in Telford

The Hockey Paper - - WOMEN'S SUPER 6S - By Jimmy Booker

BOW­DON Hightown women’s in­door skip­per Tina Cullen is hop­ing her side’s ex­cep­tional start to the cam­paign can spur them on to greater suc­cess when they move back out­doors.

Bow­don are top of the Su­per 6s Cham­pi­onship af­ter the first week­end at the Phoenix Sports Cen­tre in Telford, win­ning three of their matches and draw­ing one.

Thump­ing 10-5 and 7-2 vic­to­ries against Buck­ing­ham and Birm­ing­ham re­spec­tively were fol­lowed by a 3-3 draw against Read­ing, and a bat­tling 4-2 win over Hol­combe.

Cullen was sat­is­fied with their week­end’s work, and thrilled with the dif­fer­ent num­ber of play­ers that got on the score sheet.

Over the four matches, Bow­don scored 24 goals – Cullen lead­ing the way with six – with eight dif­fer­ent play­ers find­ing the net.

How­ever, Cullen be­lieves there is still a lot to im­prove on in or­der to progress to Wem­b­ley for a place in the semi-fi­nals.

“We wanted to try and get max­i­mum points, as you al­ways do, but we were pleased,” said Cullen.

“We know we’re only half way there, and we’ve been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore, where we’ve come back in the sec­ond week­end where we’ve not done as well – there’s a long way to go yet.

“Our de­ci­sion mak­ing in the fi­nal third could have been bet­ter, and we need to take our chances.

“We had a lot of chances against Read­ing in par­tic­u­lar, but I have to say their keeper played bril­liantly.

“We still had chances that we prob­a­bly could have put away, and we need to work on our penalty cor­ner de­fence – we con­ceded quite a few times from them, so that is some­thing that we’ll be work­ing on ahead of the fi­nal week­end.”

As a club, Bow­don en­joy an ex­cel­lent record in in­door tour­na­ments, and Cullen ad­mit­ted the in­door sea­son is one of the best parts of the year for her play­ers, who have been train­ing hard for the in­door con­di­tions.

“It’s some­thing we re­ally en­joy,” she said. “We’ve been train­ing for a cou­ple of months in the build-up to this. We take it se­ri­ously and see it one of the high­lights in our cal­en­dar re­ally, it’s al­most tra­di­tion.

“It’s some­thing where the women have al­ways been suc­cess­ful, and now it’s fil­tered down to the men and the ju­niors.

“We value the in­door as a club and we in­vest a lot in it in terms of fa­cil­i­ties and train­ing.”

De­spite the suc­cess in­doors, Bow­don are far­ing less well out­door in the Women’s Premier Divi­sion, and are ninth in the league with just one win all year – only win­less Read­ing are be­low them.

And Cullen ad­mits that stay­ing in the divi­sion is a num­ber one pri­or­ity for the team, with Bow­don the only side to have con­sis­tently fea­tured in ev­ery sea­son since its in­cep­tion in 1989.

She also feels that Bow­don’s pres­ence in the top league is key for younger play­ers in the north of Eng­land to get into the sport in the first place.

“We fight tooth and nail to stay in the out­door Prem,” she said. “That is our num­ber one ob­jec­tive. We’re the only team since the start, and we’re de­ter­mined not to go down.

“Young play­ers need that step­ping stone. They do need a lo­cal club, some- where to as­pire to play be­fore they go off to univer­sity.

“It is im­por­tant to us, we do feel that it is a re­spon­si­bil­ity and that’s why we des­per­ately don’t want to go down.”

How­ever, the im­me­di­ate fo­cus is on the sec­ond half of the in­door sea­son, which will be played on Jan­uary 7 and 8.

Cullen in­sists the team will re­main fo­cused, with teams hav­ing a small amount of wig­gle room be­tween suc­cess and miss­ing out.

She added: “There are such fine mar­gins be­tween be­ing in the top four and be­ing in the bot­tom two and get­ting rel­e­gated. Ev­ery game can get you into the top four if you have a good week­end.

“The in­door nor­mally does give us the con­fi­dence go­ing into the sec­ond half of the sea­son, so fin­gers crossed it will do that again if we man­age to play well in the sec­ond week­end.”

Bow­don lead the way by a sin­gle point from Sut­ton

Cold­field af­ter they crashed 9-3 to Slough, who lie third in a tight league which has seen ev­ery team reg­is­ter a win and drop points.

Top v bot­tom: Bow­don take on Buckingam

Crash: Sut­ton Cold­field lose 9-3 to Slough

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