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Ladies' 1s avoid play-off with a well-deserved win

21 March 2015, 14:00, Banbury Road North (Near)

Ladies' 1s 3 - 2 Cheltenham Ladies1s

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Oxford Hawks welcomed Cheltenham to BRN for the last game of the season, with Hawks needing to avoid defeat to guarantee they didn’t slip into the relegation play-off position. Despite knowing Cheltenham were already relegated, Hawks were never complacent, knowing Cheltenham had only suffered narrow losses all season, and also inflicted the first defeat on champions Slough just the week before. In front of a very supportive home crowd, Hawks started well, with Takara Haines slotting home from an early penalty corner to put any early nerves to bed. Hawks doubled their lead ten minutes later, when skipper Bex Oakes combined with fellow full back Caro Harris, who finished well, but their celebration was short lived as the away side clawed one back from a penalty corner moments later.

One minute after the break Cheltenham levelled, again from a penalty corner, but Hawks were never rattled, and continued to play calm and composed hockey, with player of the match Haines at the centre of many of the home attacks. However they still needed to rely on Linda Billington in goal, the oldest player across all of the Mens and Ladies National League clubs, to pull out a couple of top class saves. In the fifty-first minute Hawks won a penalty corner, which was perfectly executed, culminating in Oakes deflecting in on the post, prompting huge cheers from the home support. Hawks then played out the rest of the game comfortably, nullifying every Cheltenham attack, and deservedly celebrated an excellent performance and win at the final whistle.

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