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Clydesdale Western seal Euro promotion to Club Challenge I – Game 4 Review

Reports from Alanya provided by Patrick McAllister:

Clydesdale Western secured promotion to EuroHockey Club Challenge I for next year after completing their Club Challenge II campaign with a fantastic hard fought Promotion Play-Off win over Turkish side Gaziantep Polisgücü on Monday afternoon.

Two goals from captain Frances Lonergan gave ‘Dale Western a 2-0 lead before the host club side grabbed a goal back moments later. But Derek Forsyth’s side held out for a gutsy win to secure a place in Club Challenge I for 2023. With Edinburgh University also winning their respective Promotion Play-Off, the L1s will definitely feature in Club Challenge I for next year alongside Women’s Scottish Premiership champions Watsonians.

Edinburgh University also won their Play-Off match to promote Scotland’s seeding to Club Challenge I for 2023.

In what has admittedly been a season of shortfalls domestically, the Titwood girls can look back to their European conquest that simply could not have gone any better following up three Pool game wins with Promotion Play-Off victory that has capped their long 2021-22 campaign on a positive note.

In the Play-Off contest, Lonergan gave ‘Dale Western an early lead with a penalty corner strike. Gaziantep tried their best to reply through short corners of their own but it was the Scottish side who won more set piece opportunities. Frustratingly for both sides, no more corners – or open play goals – were scored by half time.

But in the third quarter, Lonergan struck again in the same fashion to her first. Polisgücü pulled a goal back instantly to keep Forsyth’s side true to the task and whilst the Turkish side tried their best to force an equaliser, the L1s held their own all the way to the final whistle to secure a superb win.

Post EuroHockey Club Challenge II reaction:

Clydesdale Western captain Frances Lonergan: “In the whole tournament, we played fantastic hockey & scored some great team goals. Against Gaziantep, it was an absolute fight & every single member of the team gave everything they could to get us over the line and give us that win. An outstanding team effort throughout the tournament.”

Clydesdale Western vice captain Laura Paul: “The girls felt confident going into the tournament after securing a Euros spot for next year, so we were already looking forward to the challenge. We scored some really nice team goals & fought hard to win every game. There were a couple of games that were particularly physical & I thought we dealt with them really well. Our last game was a battle against the host team, but we stayed composed, defended very well & soaked up the pressure. This tournament was the perfect end to a very extensive & successful season.”

‘Dale Western top Pool A to set up final showdown in Club Challenge II – Game 3 Review

Reports from Alanya provided by Patrick McAllister:

Clydesdale Western booked a place in the Promotion Play-Off Final of EuroHockey Club Challenge II after a 3-0 win over TSOP Kolos Boryspol in Alanya clinched top spot in Pool A.

A brace from Holly Steiger and a second goal of the tournament for Karin Belch helped the L1s make it three wins from their three pool games. With top spot of Pool A confirmed, ‘Dale Western will play the runners up of Pool B on Monday from 1.45pm (3.45pm GMT). The result and performance capped off what has been a phenomenal three days for Derek Forsyth and his side who will now be hopeful of promoting Scotland’s seeding for next season in Monday afternoon’s match.

Chances in the L1s clash with Ukrainian side TSOP Kolos Boryspol were at a premium right up until the first quarter buzzer when Steiger scored her first goal. Paz Medina San Martin’s pass across goal was gratefully finished off by Steiger at the far post. Much to Clydesdale Western’s content, the second quarter played out with no major threat to their goal.

The pattern of play continued into the second half, despite both sides winning a couple of penalty corners. The Titwood girls took full advantage of a set piece offering, again on the quarter time hooter, to double their lead. Karin Belch’s initial attempt from a corner came back to her before she squeezed in a shot past Boryspol’s goalkeeper. Five minutes into the final quarter, the L1s made the result, top spot and qualification secure when Steiger emphatically pounced on a rebounded short corner strike to make it 3-0.

Clydesdale Western will now face the side that finishes second in Pool B. Fellow Scottish side Edinburgh University finished top of Pool B following their win over Navax AHTC Wien of Austria. Meaning, the Titwood girls will play either HC Rotweiss Wettingen (Switzerland) or hosts Gaziantep Polisgücü.

‘Dale Western make it two wins on the bounce in Club Challenge II – Game 2 Review

Reports from Alanya provided by Patrick McAllister:

Clydesdale Western recorded their second win in as many games in EuroHockey Club Challenge II with a dominant performance against Stade Français in Alanya on Saturday morning.

Fiona Semple and Heather O’Brien once again were on the scoresheet following on from their goals in the opening game. Those goals came either side of a Karin Belch goal which secured five points and leaves Derek Forsyth’s side with a great chance of securing a Promotion Play-Off spot of Club Challenge II.

Unlike Friday’s game, the Titwood girls settled into the game better. But their French opponents were denied on two occasions from penalty corners. Semple then scored from a Clydesdale Western corner, deflecting in from a Belch pass akin to a set piece routine executed against SV Arminen. The second quarter passed without too much concern for either side, probably suiting the L1s given their goal advantage.

But it was after half time when ‘Dale Western stole a march with two goals in a matter of minutes. Belch made it 2-0 before O’Brien scored her second goal of the tournament. The scoreline could have been far greater given the amount of corner awards given to the L1s. Frustratingly, they were denied on a number of occasions by Stade Français’ goalkeeper, who arguably was unlucky to be on the losing team by the full time whistle.

The win takes Clydesdale Western’s points tally in Pool A to ten. A point in Sunday morning’s game with TSOP Kolos Boryspol (Ukraine) will be enough, whilst any more would clinch top spot of the group meaning the L1s will face the runners-up of Pool B on Monday. Forsyth’s team will take on Kolos Boryspol from 9.00am (7.00am GMT).

Photo credit: Rob Lindblade

Clydesdale Western off to flyer in Club Challenge II – Game 1 Review

Reports from Alanya provided by Patrick McAllister:

Clydesdale Western produced a sensational performance to come from behind against Austrian side SV Arminen and take maximum points from their opening match of EuroHockey Club Challenge II in Alanya, Turkey on Friday morning.

Despite conceding an opening quarter goal, Derek Forsyth’s side manufactured a stunning response with a goal each from Emma McGregor, Fiona Semple, Annabel Ballantyne and Heather O’Brien. O’Brien’s goal capped off a magnificent team display that gives ‘Dale Western an early advantage in Pool A going into Saturday morning’s clash with Stade Français of France. In Pool A’s other fixture, Stade Français lost 1-0 to Ukrainian side TSOP Kolos Boryspol.

Going into the match, Forsyth made the decision to go with more than 16 players in his squad, meaning goalkeepers Cara McAllister and Iona Colquhoun were both selected. Arminen arguably settled into the game quicker and their direct play caused concern for ‘Dale Western’s backline. And such concerns took its toll when the Austrian side took the lead from a counter attack which finished with a top corner strike past a helpless McAllister. McAllister did keep the score at 1-0 with a strong sliding save, whilst Arminen’s goalkeeper also kept out a stinging Clydesdale Western shot.

The Titwood girls drew level in the second quarter. Bronwyn Shields darted down the wing before moving the ball on to O’Brien who then squared the ball for a tap in for fellow forward McGregor. The L1s were nearly in front through skipper Frances Lonergan, but her short corner strike produced a superb piece of athleticism from Arminen’s ‘keeper courtesy of a full split save.

Into the second half and Clydesdale Western, for all their endeavour in searing heat, took a deserved lead. Fiona Semple deflected in a short corner move courtesy of a clean pass from teammate Karin Belch. The game was ebbing and flowing, but thankfully it was the L1s who grabbed the fourth goal of the game when a ball across the face of goal was tucked in by Ballantyne. Rosie Tudor was close to registering her name on the scoresheet after rounding the goalkeeper but her shot from an acute angle missed the goal and evaded any willing runners at the back post. But Clydesdale Western put the icing on the cake when O’Brien had the simplest of tasks to convert from close range to clinch a deserved maximum of five points.

EuroHockey Club Challenge II – Game 1 Preview – Clydesdale Western vs. SV Arminen

Clydesdale Western will begin their EuroHockey Club Challenge II campaign in Alanya, Turkey with an opening fixture against SV Arminen.

The L1s are in action from 11.15am local time (9.15am GMT) against Austrian side SV Arminen in the first of three Pool A games. A good result on Friday would put Derek Forsyth team in a great position going into their two remaining Pool games against Stade Français (France) and TSOP Kolos Boryspol (Ukraine) before the crossover matches with Pool B opposition.

Ironically, ‘Dale Western and Arminen have already played each other this season and done so in the same city as well. The two teams faced off in indoor competition back in February as part of EuroHockey’s Indoor Club Trophy. That day, the Titwood girls won 3-2 that put them on the road to claiming bronze by the end of the tournament.

Head Coach Forsyth has chosen a strong 18-player squad featuring a number of Scotland internationalists at both senior and junior level. Fiona Semple, Millie Steiger and Bronwyn Shields have featured in some of the latest Scotland Senior Women’s test series whilst Anna Hoolaghan, Cara McAllister and Emma Murray have been consistent selections for youth Scotland squads in recent months.

Georgia Coyle, Rosie Tudor and Anna Winter have all made the squad too following some impressive performances in the first team of late. Alongside McAllister, Iona Colquhoun has also been selected as an alternate goalkeeping option.

Clydesdale Western squad for EuroHockey Club Challenge II: Cara McAllister (GK), Iona Colquhoun (GK), Frances Lonergan (captain), Laura Paul, Karin Belch, Anna Hoolaghan, Georgia Coyle, Millie Steiger, Bronwyn Shields, Fiona Semple, Paz Medina San Martin, Heather O’Brien, Emma McGregor, Holly Steiger, Emma Murray, Anna Winter, Rosie Tudor, Annabel Ballantyne

Photo credit: Rob Lindblade