DENISE Marston-Smith’s brace helped Olton ladies secure European hockey last weekend.
The Grange Road side saw off a hard-working Poynton team who threatened to spoil the party after twice fighting back to level the scores.
Third-placed Canterbury produced the shock of the season - ending champions Bowden’s previously unbeaten run.
As a result it meant Olton needed a win to grab second spot and when Marston-Smith converted a reverse-stick shot after 16 minutes things were looking good for the hosts.
However six minutes later Olton’s travelling support was stunned into silence when Poynton took a quick free hit and caught Olton napping to equalize. This resulted in an awesome barrage against the Poynton goal and on 28 minutes after four consecutive short-corners and a goal-mouth mêlée Holly Chipman was on hand one yard out to push the ball into the net.
Poynton fought back once again to level the scores before half time but after the break it was the home side in control.
A measure of the strength of the Olton play was that they had around a dozen short-corners throughout the game without having to defend one from the Cheshire ladies.
On 43 minutes Olton’s dominance paid off when Marston-Smith stuck from open play.
The last 27 minutes had all the highs and lows that have typified the rest of the season, and but Olton held on to record the win.
Next year the runners-up will face European competition against the second-placed sides from neighbouring countries including Spain, Germany, Belgium and Holland.
The venue is yet to be decided.