HOCKEY: OLTON Ladies Over 35s were unlucky not to be crowned Investec O35 Cup Champions when losing to Canterbury in the final at the National Hockey Stadium in Lee Valley.
After beating Boots – Nottingham – Sutton Coldfield, Burton, and reigning champions Bowdon in their cup campaign, which started in October, they faced Canterbury in the final in front of a strong crowd.
With Canterbury having played in the final four times in the last five years – winning the Cup on 3 of those occasions – Olton were up against it, but that didn’t stop them taking the lead.
Though Olton started with the ball, they were soon under pressure from Canterbury who forced defenders Tracy Gallagher, Jenny Pritchard, Lucy Aldred and Liz Boyle to make several clearances early on.
Goalkeeper Mandy Ferebee was also made to work hard as the scoreline remained 0-0 well into the first half.
Canterbury’s threat came from their penalty corners – but Olton held firm.
The game started to turn once Olton got into their stride and they looked threatening on the break.
Carol Quill and Becky Stent soon capitalised by working the ball up the pitch and Linda Webb made sure to commit the keeper and slam the ball home to open the scoring.
Again after the restart, the Canterbury attack put Olton under pressure but – after another turn over – Olton were awarded a free hit on the edge of the attacking 25.
Laura Collins stepped up and sent a decisive ball in for Sally Walton to score with a great reverse strike to put the Olton 2-0 ahead.
Canterbury forced another penalty corner and Clewlow was able to open her account with a goal mouth scramble after her initial shot was saved.
Canterbury were soon level when Clewlow bagged her second goal of the game from another penalty corner.
With the game level and ten minutes remaining, some great passing moves from Olton led to a great chance for Linda Webb – where she was thwarted by the post.
But shortly after she made sure of her second and a third for Olton to put them in the lead with a well taken goal at the far post.
Pressure soon mounted on Olton who held a precious one goal lead.
Another corner in the final minute led to a Canterbury equaliser and the completion of Clewlows hat trick.
Penalty shuffles were to decide the Cup – and despite both Laura Collins and Jenny Pritchard scoring for Olton, it was Canterbury who came out on top.
Olton team manager Debra Wilkes said: “Not since the early 200s have Olton Ladies taken part in a thrilling cup final such as this one.
“As manager I was privileged to have some of those original young players now as masters players still showing their pedigree.
“The final result may not have been the one we wanted, but the team’s performance in that final ensured we had a day to remember.