Welsh pride sees Swans fin­ish with a big flourish

Con­fer­ence West round-up

The Hockey Paper - - INVESTEC WOMEN'S PREMIER DIVISION - By Jimmy Booker

SWANSEA City skip­per Natalie Blyth hailed the never-say-die at­ti­tude of her team-mates af­ter they ended the sea­son with a last-gasp win over Tro­jans in the Con­fer­ence West.

So­phie Clay­ton net­ted the only goal of the game sec­onds from time to give the vis­i­tors a 1-0 win and en­sure the Welsh side ended the sea­son with a fourth straight vic­tory.

The team also were in­debted to Abi Wels­ford, who filled in be­tween the sticks due to the late ab­sence of reg­u­lar keeper Anna Lugg-Mor­ris.

Wels­ford pulled off a string of im­pres­sive saves to keep the match goal­less, de­spite not be­ing a spe­cialised goal­keeper.

Af­ter an in­dif­fer­ent sea­son, Swansea’s strong fin­ish to the cam­paign has cap­tain Blyth in pos­i­tive mood ahead of the new cam­paign.

“It’s been an in­ter­est­ing sea­son with new play­ers com­ing on board; we’ve had a mix of young­sters and very, very ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers,” she said.

“We strug­gled at the start of the sea­son to get our blend to­gether, and un­for­tu­nately for us we couldn’t get any mo­men­tum go­ing.

“In the lat­ter part we have just seemed to click. Usu­ally at this point of the sea­son, ev­ery­one’s lost a bit of mo­ti­va­tion.

“For us, even though we didn’t have any­thing spe­cific to play for, ev­ery­one was re­ally fo­cused on win­ning.

“I couldn’t tell you the rea­son for it, but in the last few games we found a re­ally pos­i­tive tenac­ity and de­sire to do well.”

The re­sult saw Swansea fin­ish the divi­sion fourth with 31 points from 18 matches, leap-frog­ging Satur­day’s op­po­nents Tro­jans on goal dif­fer­ence.

Else­where, cham­pi­ons Buckingham ended their reg­u­lar sea­son in scin­til­lat­ing fash­ion, thump­ing al­ready-rel­e­gated Bris­tol Fire­brands 10-1 to en­sure they en­tered the pro­mo­tion play-offs in fine form.

Phoebe Richards grabbed a hat-trick for Bucks, and Lau­ren Thomas a brace for the hosts, with Natasha James, Ab­bie Brant, Alice Rolfe, Lot­tie Porter and Alexandra Naugh­alty also find­ing the net.

Lora Sy­monds’ brace helped run­ners-up Stour­port beat eighth-placed Ox­ford Hawks 2-1, and she fin­ished the sea­son as the divi­sion’s top scorer with 22 goals.

Sally Walton hit a hattrick as Ol­ton and West War­wicks scored six se­cond half goals in a 6-1 de­mo­li­tion of sec­ond­from-bot­tom Exe, while Isca Univer­sity and Glouces­ter City ended the sea­son with a 0-0 draw, fin­ish­ing sixth and sev­enth re­spec­tively.

Blyth con­firmed Swansea are set to lose just one player – SarahJayne Thorn­ton – ahead of next sea­son as things stand, and added the con­ti­nu­ity of selec­tion, cou­pled with the mo­men­tum cre­ated at the end of this cam­paign, will stand them in good stead next term.

“Next sea­son, we’re go­ing to push for pro­mo­tion as we say ev­ery year, but be­cause there won’t be much change within our team, it’s ac­tu­ally look­ing re­ally pos­i­tive for Septem­ber,” Blyth said.

“It’s price­less for us to keep our core. They be­come our base and you’ve got to have that foun­da­tion and have good play­ers com­ing in on the out­skirts.

“You need that set of core play­ers that are driv­ing the team and driv­ing the stan­dards.

“It’s re­ally hard to get con­tin­u­ous re­sults. What we’re aim­ing for next sea­son is con­sis­tency, be­cause our re­sults have been up and down.

“We had a look at our stats and our away suc­cess rate was re­ally, re­ally poor. That’s our fo­cus now, go­ing into the new sea­son, be­cause we’re a good team. We just need to make sure we score, be­cause goals win games.

“Our at­tack­ing game needs a lot of fo­cus – we’ve al­ways had a strong de­fence. Wales, as a na­tion, are known as good de­fend­ers, but we need to fo­cus on our at­tack.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.