UNIVERSITY of Exeter completed the first half of the NOW:Pensions England Hockey League season on a winning note, with a 2-1 home victory over Cardiff & Met.
Sunday’s win came courtesy of early goals. Ian Haley got Exeter off to a flying start with his fourth-minute opener and top scorer Nick Cooper doubled the Greens’ lead on 12 minutes as Exeter avenged an earlier 4-2 defeat at Cardiff.
Robin Lovegrove replied for Cardiff in the 22nd minute.
Fourth-placed Exeter return to league action at Cheltenham on February 9.
Isca ended the calendar year on a low note as they went down 4-0 against Bath Buccs.
Defeat for the Exeter side and a 2-0 win for basement boys Guildford at Fareham means the Blues will start the new year – and the second half of the season – at the bottom of the table.
Isca resume with crucial back-to-back February home matches at the University of Exeter Sports Park against Indian Gymkhana and relegation rivals Guildford.
Exeter-based Exe will start the second half of the 2013/14 Women’s Conference West season also at the foot of the table following a 5-0 defeat at Swansea Spartans.
Exe face a tough start to 2014, away to Oxford Hawks on February 8.
Isca University’s next opponents are Swansea, at the University Sports Park on February 8, as they seek to improve on a 1-1 home draw with Bristol’s Firebrands.
The country’s leading women’s national hockey league scorer Claire Thomas claimed her 16th goal in 11 matches to put Isca ahead after 42 minutes.
The game remained tight, with Firebrands forcing a couple of fine saves from keeper Lottie Winnett but they eventually equalised a minute before time.
Isca had a final chance to win, only for Thomas to be denied by a fine save from Firebrands keeper Issie Rosie.
Jen Bury scored her first goal for Isca against her old team as the city side’s seconds beat Bournemouth 3-0.
Despite a strong start from Isca, they missed some great chances as the game was goalless at half-time.
Isca came out stronger in the second half and took the lead through Bury before Lorel Wallis doubled their advantage from a short corner. Jen Lynch scored the third goal.
Exe seconds took full advantage of facing a Clevedon side low in confidence by putting seven past them – despite going behind.
In a turgid first half, Clevedon scored in the first five minutes. However, two quick goals from Emma Scott and Mel Vaggers just before the break settled the nerves.
A lapse in concentration saw Clevedon draw level, but Exe stuck to their task and a goal from Nicole Thackray and two each from Bridget Culver and Charlotte Howard produced a comfortable and deserved win.
Rosie Karakusevic was named Exe’s player of the match.
Isca thirds were left to rue a number of short corner opportunities that went begging as they lost 3-1 against Teign.
Teign broke open a tight game with two goals on the counter-attack, but Izzie Moore pulled one back from a flick as an improved Isca started to threaten.
However, Teign scored again in the last five minutes from a pass and nudge in from the post.
Jo Burrington scored twice for Isca fourths, but Torbay scored four times between her two strikes to win the game.
After Burrington opened the scoring, league leaders Torbay went 2-1 up at the break and were 4-1 clear before her consolation.
Megan Wright starred on her debut in midfield for Exe, but could not prevent the fourth team falling to a 1-0 defeat against Dart seconds.
Exe were very strong in the first 10 minutes, passing well and getting the ball into the Dart D to give the forwards a couple of chances at goal.
However, Dart scored the only goal of the match in the second half.