BOLTON Hockey Club’s women’s firsts saw their unbeaten run ended with a 4-2 defeat to Oxton in North West Women’s Two South.
It was a first league defeat of the campaign for Bolton as Oxton held a good defensive line, keeping the women’s firsts at bay and capitalising as they tired.
Swift switching between Becky Varney, Donna Hennessy and Alex Roe across the backline led to some excellent passages of play for Bolton.
But despite beginning to find their rhythm, Bolton were slow to react to pick up the advancing Oxton players who converted a good passing move to opened the scoring.
Great movement of the ball around the back for Bolton again led to an outlet through midfield into Emily Wilkes. Building the play Wilkes found Lu Bull on halfway who sent a through ball all the way into the Oxton D picking out Kirsten Price whose shot was blocked by the defender, but Angelie Chitre latched onto the loose ball and with her back to goal, pivoted to release the ball and found the bottom corner after a neat turn to make it 1-1.
Bolton again built the play well by working the ball around to force a long corner soon after. Wilkes, from the middle of the park, found Bull square on the right and she battled through the first challenge, beating two Oxton players to drive into the D. And with a subtle one-handed finished into the corner past the advancing goalkeeper, she made it 2-1 and put Bolton back in the driving seat.
Bolton went into the second half knowing they needed to step up and inject some energy to lift the play.
From the push back Varney took advantage of space down the right, looking to play through the midfield. Chrystal Swaries took the ball but was hounded by the Oxton defence making it difficult to create chances to attack the opposition’s D.
Oxton moved into in a higher gear, their committed and solid defending stopped Bolton’s advances and they were quick on the counter attack, making it 2-2 early in the half.
Oxton were able to add fresh legs to push the energy reserves of the Bolton players, and as space developed they exploited the gaps to link nicely to convert a strong team goal and make it 3-2.
They continued to exploit the spaces created across the park as the time ran out for Bolton.
And Oxton were able to fire home a direct shot from the top of the D to make it four and confirm their victory.
Joint players-of-the-match Becky Varney and Donna Hennessey battled hard in defence and did not stop, despite constant pressure.
Bolton remain at the top of the table after the defeat with a five-point buffer to the chasing pack.
The women’s thirds faced Horwich women’s firsts in a local derby in North West Women’s Six East but went down 4-1.
The young Bolton side started the game in a positive manner by winning an early short corner, but captain Katie Bent was unable to convert.
Bolton continued to apply pressure but were unfortunate to find themselves a goal down against the run of play and the the hosts scored twice more to make it 3-0 at half time.
The second half was all Bolton, however, who applied wave after wave of pressure resulting in a breakthrough goal when captain Bent fed the ball through to forward Anna Howarth, whose play allowed Viv Lake to run through on goal and smash the ball past the Horwich keeper.
Bolton were unfortunate not to add to their tally in the game before Horwich scored a breakaway goal to seal their victory.
It was harsh on visitors Bolton but, with the league’s top two teams now out of the way for them, the future looks bright for a developing side.
The women's seconds put in a five-star display to beat Rochdale women's firsts 5-0 in North West Women's Four East.
The team had five different scorers as they began the second half of the season on home ground.
Bolton started strongly with a goal after just 30 seconds from Emily Hawkrigg, who took advantage of a rebound off the post and quickly slipped the ball past the keeper, leaving the Rochdale defence standing.
The hosts were quickly on the attack again, with demanding play from midfielders Lucy Pickles, Erin Turner and Debbie Nicholson taking full advantage of their pace and skills.
They worked the ball forward to Debbie Green, captain Viv Lake and Hawkrigg, and after Lake found the D, she passed across the top to sub Nicky Ashurst, who had only been on the pitch for 30 seconds, and she expertly put the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0 at half time.
Again Bolton came out strongly after the interval with Rochdale unable to find a way through the backline of keeper Nina Jones, Hannah Barnes, Katie Bent and Jo Tanner.
Bent sent sweeper Jude Cough a swift ball through and she linked up with Lake, who took the ball past three defenders to fire the ball into the back of the net.
Still with time to go, Bolton went on the attack again, with Tanner supporting Pickles.
When Rochdale sent the ball to outside of the D, Tanner was able to intercept, take the ball around the defender into the D and strike on target past four defenders.
The hosts kept pressing despite the scoreline and after a goalmouth scramble, Green neatly tapped the ball home to wrap up the scoring.
Player-of-the-match was a joint honour for Tanner, Pickles and Hannah Payne, with mentions also for Jones and Green.