A Dirkie Chamberlain inspired Holcombe reach the Investec League National Final with a 6-0 win over Buckingham.
With both teams trading blows early and exchanging chance after chance, it was Holcombe who settle the fastest and took the lead through a 12th-minute goal by Candice Manuel, who was fastest to react to the loose ball.
Holcombe started to dominate the possession, dictating play and limiting Buckingham to very little. Ella Jackson in the Buckingham goal was kept busy as half time approached.
Holcombe coach Leigh Maarsdorp’s inspired half time team talk gave the team the inspiration they needed. In the third quarter, the game was truly put out of Buckingham reach. A devastating two minutes of attacking superiority led by the remarkable South African, Dirkie Chamberlain, who gave her team the breathing space they needed with an unstoppable strike into the roof of the Buckingham net. Moments later Sofia Viarengo and Phillipa Lewis added their names to the scoresheet, three goals in a 1minute 48-second spell.
Whilst the Holcombe forward line were running riot, it was at the other end of the pitch that the focus needed to maintain. Zoe Shipperly and Phoebe Richards had their chances to bring Buckingham into the game, however, Rose Thomas in the Holcombe goal along with defensive stalwart Emma Trunks were equal to the Buckingham advances.
“It was a tough start, we were a bit shaky and Buckingham came at us hard, which we expected. We took our stamp on the game in the 2nd half and really owned our spaces. The fitness session we have been doing with [Conditioning Coach] Tom really showed today, allowing us to play at a higher tempo until the end.” Said Holcombe defender Emma Trunks.
A moment of history was made during the game as young Izzy Shelley entered the fray for Holcombe, making her the youngest ever player to take to the field in the Investec League Finals aged just 15 years and 18 days.
“She was absolutely brilliant, a lot of pressure to come on, especially in this stadium with the crowds. To come into this team… we are a very strong team, and for a 14 now 15 year old to come in and take it all in her stride, she’s done absolutely brilliant”. Trunks continued.
“It feels incredible, I grew up at the club and have always aspired to be there, said Izzy.
Holcombe wasn’t finished there, commanding centre back Leah Wilkinson wanted to join the action, winning the ball in her own defensive zone and travelling the full length of the pitch. Goal number 5 was added to the scoresheet as she shot low to the keepers right. Heather McEwen moments later rounded off the scores with Holcombe’s 6th of the game.
Holcombe will now face Surbiton in the Investec Final, a repeat of last year, after they overcame a strong East Grinstead side featuring Play of the Year Sophie Bray 4-1.