As the BUCS season winds down there was a huge fixture for the only Edge Hill University team to reach a cup final.
The all-conquering badminton men’s firsts squad had won all 14 of their fixtures in 2019/20 – but they fell just short in their bid to complete the BUCS season with a perfect record as they went down to Hull firsts in the final of the Northern Conference Cup at Durham Sports Park.
Hull, themselves unbeaten champions of Northern Tier 2 – a division above the Greens – proved a level above as they ran out 6-2 winners.
Man of the Match Kieran Waters (singles – in three sets) and Matthew Latham and Blu Holgate (doubles – in straight sets) claimed the points for Edge Hill, but it was not enough to secure the silverware and provide cheer to the travelling Edge following. However, the squad can reflect on a memorable campaign, the best in the history of the University’s badminton teams.
Another side who can reflect positively on an unbeaten league campaign is the men’s firsts tennis squad, the champions completing their Northern Tier 3 season with a 5-1 victory at UCLAN firsts.
The men’s firsts hockey team moved up to second in Northern Tier 2 above Manchester seconds and Manchester Met firsts on goal difference following a 5-0 victory in their penultimate fixture, at UCLAN firsts. They meet champions Lancaster firsts in their final match, knowing avoiding a heavy defeat would guarantee the runners-up spot. Goalless at the break, James Aberley, Nick Fletcher, Connor Lloyd (2) and Matthew Stacey struck in an impressive second-half display, with Ross Hall and Levi Racz securing the Man of the Match honours.
There was to be no happy ending for the women’s squads, however. The firsts went down 8-1 at Chester firsts in Northern Tier 2, who moved into pole position in the division courtesy of the result. Meg Burns scored what proved to be a consolation in the first half for last season’s Northern Tier 3 champions, who have found the going tough at the higher level with an almost completely new team. It also proved a farewell for Players’ of the Match Em Ross and Cara Websdale, as well as Nadina Skinner.
The women’s seconds failed to make it a fifth successive win as they went down 3-0 to Chester seconds in Northern Tier 5. The lack of replacements proved a key factor in the defeat although they have still recorded a creditable third-place league finish. Goalless at the break, changes for the home side proved key as the Greens tired in the second half. Skipper Simone Oldfield and Alisha Cunningham claimed Players of the Match honours, with the former later reflecting on the campaign: “I am honestly so proud of every single one of the girls this year and to have been their captain. Hand on heart I can honestly say it has been an honour to see the girls work hard and commit to training and games each week and improve throughout.”
In football, the women’s firsts rounded off their Northern Tier 2 league-winning campaign unbeaten although they were made to work in a 4-4 draw with UCLAN firsts, with a lack of available subs also proving a factor. The result saw them finish 10 points clear of nearest challengers, Manchester Met firsts, in the table.
There were two home defeats in three days for the women’s firsts basketball team, who remain winless in Northern Tier 2 with one fixture left, going down 66-33 to UCLAN firsts before losing 80-52 to Bradford firsts.
And the fourths netball team went down 58-25 to Liverpool John Moores fourths in Northern Tier 8, which proved a farewell appearance for Player of the Match Katie Dobson, Elise Thompson, Sophie Baker, Charlotte Wear and Rebecca Laycock. The Greens must now wait for bottom-side UCLAN thirds to attempt to defeat LJM by over 11 points to avoid the drop – and consign the fourths to relegation.