OLTON and West Warwicks skipper Naomi James says confidence is high as her team travel to Reading in a winner takes all weekend with their Investec Premier League status at stake.
The ladies finished second from bottom ahead of relegated Slough and must fight for the right to stay in the Premiership in the play-offs.
A fortnight ago they beat Northern Conference winners Beeston 2-1 but now must take on free-scoring Harleston Magpies, winners of the Eastern Conference and Buckingham, winners of the Western, this weekend.
“We’re confident, we have a high level of fitness which we’ll be able to maintain for the full 70 minutes and we have been working hard in training,” said Naomi.
“We’re used to a much higher pace in the Premier and we’re planning to go out and get some early goals on the board and then not concede any.”
Olton have been going through a transitional period this season with many senior players stepping aside and their younger replacements having to step up to the high demands of the league.
“A lot of young players had to come through,” said the 28-year-old trainee accountant, “and as a result we weren’t there enough as a team early in the season, but our league position does not reflect our performance.”
In fact Olton only find themselves in this position on goal difference, University of Birmingham nudging them into the play-offs by four goals.
“A lot of the games that we lost we would go ahead and then lose focus and the opposition would win in the end,” said Naomi, who started with Olton when she was 13.
However with the weekend in Reading having a cup final feel, losing focus is unlikely to be a problem, and the squad have unearthed some young stars too over the season including Pascale Massey who has been selected for England U-18s, which all bodes well for the future.
Olton & WW play Harleston Magpies on Saturday at 1pm and Buckingham at 12noon on Sunday in what promises to be a great weekend of hockey also featuring the league championship play offs.
For more details visit www.englandhockey.co.uk/.