Matlock Baileans came through two tough league encounters unbeaten at the weekend thanks to a 2-2 draw at Leicester and then a 0-0 at home to second-placed Birmingham University.
Against Leicester on Saturday, Matlock began well but then fell behind to a goal from a penalty corner.
Matlock kept up with Leicester and were not going down without a fight and were rewarded with a penalty corner of their own, but Leicester defended well and were able to clear the ball and out of danger meaning Matlock were a goal down at half-time.
The second-half soon saw Matlock attacking Leicester’s ‘D’ after a series of well worked passes between Nina Smedley and Sarah Wain.
Although Matlock battled well, Leicester were quick to turn the ball over and were soon on the counter attack, leading them to obtain another penalty corner from which they scored to make it 2-0.
Matlock were not disheartened and from a free hit Jilly Beacham picked out Leyanne Beacham who with great determination put the ball in the back of the goal.
Leicester’s confidence seemed to go down which meant they played a more defensive game, allowing Matlock to attack more.
The equaliser came when a great interception from Jodie Carson saw her cross the ball forward to allow man of the match Gemma Phipps to run onto it and score the goal which sealed a point.
Matlock then faced title-chasing Birmingham at Wirksworth knowing a good performance was needed to get anything from the game.
The first ten minutes saw a battle in midfield with Phipps and Laura Boddy working tirelessly, both in an attacking and defending sense.
Birmingham constantly forced Matlock in to their own half and switched the ball continuously around the defenders, wearing down Matlocks players.
Birmingham then broke through first with a battle that awarded them with a penalty corner which was cleared by Ali Milyard.
Some good attacking work from Wain and Iris Kecklova caused Birmingham problems, Kecklova unlucky not to score after some good build-up play from Niamh Vallack, Leyanne Beacham and Carson, the shot well saved.
Matlock looked tired in the second-half and Birmingham saw a shot from a penalty corner come back off the crossbar.
Matlock managed to break and Vallack went through one-on-one with the keeper who reacted well to block.
Defensive work needed to be strong and Fran Lilley put in a man of the match display alongside Jess Liddle and Jill and Lisa Beacham as the hosts held out to earn an impressive point.