Back (from left): Izzy Grigg, Mel Insall, Jenny Peebles, Rachael Robertson, Sally Gibson, Jill Tombs, Becks Treharne, Cat Horn, Emma Teague. Kneeling: Pip Stewart, Allison Evans, Livy Hazlett, Yvie Lock, Freya Wilks, Charlotte Cox, Maddy Lambrou.
Its four wins out of four for Trojans, who continue to share the England Women’s Hockey Western Conference leadership with Midlanders Olton & West Warwicks.
Two goals in 11 early second half minutes set up a 3-1 victory over winless Bristol Firebrands at Stoneham Lane, writes Mike Vimpany.
Trojans might have won by a more comfortable margin, but having been unable to build on their 2-0 lead were forced to endure some anxious moments in the back ranks after Firebrands pulled a goal back.
The Bristolians certainly didn’t allow Trojans much scope, getting as many players as possible behind the ball and endeavouring to hit their hosts on the break.
The ploy worked until shortly after the half-time break when Trojans broke the deadlock through American Alison Evans, one of six newcomers to the Stoneham squad.
Skipper Jenny Peebles and Sally Gibson were involved in the build up – Evans poking Trojans in front from a rebound off goalkeeper Isobel Rosie’s pads.
Trojans second, 11 minutes later, came after a scrambled penalty corner – Jill Toombs doubling the advantage.
When Gibson was twice unable to stretch Trojans into an unassailable lead, Firebrands hit back through Frankie Mayes.
Pip Stewart was desperately unlucky not to seal it for Trojans when she hit the outside of the far Firebrands upright with a cross-shot.
But after more Bristol pressure had been repelled, Cat Horn snatched a deflection off the end of Gibson’s stick to clinch the points with a third Trojans goal.
Four straight wins is the best start to the season Trojans have made since dropping out of the National League Premier Division elite.
Peebles puts the start down to “sheer hard work and work ethic at training” under the watchful eye of new coach Merijn Van Willigen.
“We’ve attracted six or seven new players this season and now boast a pretty decent 16-strong squad,” she added.
Mel Insall has joined from Havant and replaced now retired Clare Glover in goal, while Salisbury-based Izzy Grigg and Becks Treharne have arrived to stiffen the defence.
Charlotte Church’s return has strengthened the Trojans midfield, while the attack now has more potency with the arrival of police woman Cat Horn and Allison Evans, a player with good 3D skills, who was at New Jersey’s Princetown University, where the late President John F Kennedy studied.
Peebles, who takes her squad into the distinctly choppier waters of third-placed Stourport on Saturday, had a special word for 15-year old Maddy Lambrou.
“Maddy’s come through the junior ranks at Trojans and has improved immensely,” she said.
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