Yorkshire target final-day win over champions in bid to claim English Women’s County Championship title

Buckinghamshire's Nathalia Kirby pictured in action against Yorkshire (Picture: Adrian Judd/Leaderboard Photography).
Buckinghamshire's Nathalia Kirby pictured in action against Yorkshire (Picture: Adrian Judd/Leaderboard Photography).
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YORKSHIRE ceded the advantage to defending champions Gloucestershire when they were surprisingly held 4.5-4.5 by Buckinghamshire on day four of the English Women’s County Championship at Felixstowe Ferry.

But captain Fran Dickson insisted her team’s mind set remains unchanged as they will go for a win on Friday over the title holders that would earn them the crown.

“This isn’t a setback,” said Alwoodley’s Dickson. “We have still got to beat Gloucestershire, that’s the bottom line.”

Buckinghamshire’s efforts do mean that Gloucestershire – who beat Nottinghamshire 5.5-3.5 and have won all four of their games so far – will retain the trophy with a halved result against Yorkshire.

But the White Rose side need only look to their emphatic performances on the opening three days to draw inspiration for the task at hand.

They whitewashed Hampshire 9-0, beat Nottinghamshire 8.5-0.5 and defeated Suffolk 7.5-1.5.

Buckinghamshire, who had lost all their matches ahead of Thursday, were bottom of the table and one of their players, Alice Kozlowski, revealed that they had decided to wear black kit against Yorkshire – to show they were the underdogs and in mourning.

But their play was full of life and they shared both the foursomes and the singles sessions.

In the morning Kozlowski and Georgina Bowers won for Bucks in a game marbled through with birdies, while Huddersfield’s Megan Lockett and Lindrick’s Mia Eales-Smith had a comfortable win for Yorkshire.

In the decider Thalia Kirby, playing with Victoria Bryan, raised cheers from the Bucks supporters when she holed a 12-footer on the last to set up the half against Woodsome Hall’s Melissa Wood and Nicola Slater.

In the singles , Rotherham’s Olivia Winning struck first for Yorkshire, but her point was quickly balanced by Kirby, who defeated Lightclfife’s Hannah Holden at the last.

Lockett earned her second point of the day for Yorkshire, but Bowers also did the double for Bucks, defeating Slater 3&2.

Julia Gallagher made certain of the halved result for Buckinghamshire when she got up and down for par on the 16th to beat Wood, also by 3&2, before Eales-Smith brought home another win for Dickson’s line-up.

Bryan had tried to pull off the overall win with a fightback that saw her go up the 18th just one down, but Eales-Smith showed remarkable composure for a 14-year-old, making a textbook par to win the game for Yorkshire and confirm the halved result.

Gloucestershire looked set for a comfortable win after they claimed all three morning foursomes, but Nottinghamshire were determined to make them work for it.

After six holes they were up in four of the six games and Emily Cheshire, Emma Howie and Rachel Boulton all went on to win their games.

But Gloucestershire’s Ffion Tynan, also 14, came back from two down after 15 to halve her game, Claudia Ovens worked steadily to gain her win and Grace Connelly took the team over the winning line.

She got ahead in her match when she eagled the second and birdied the third and, although she was pulled back temporarily around the turn, she went on to win 3&2.

In the final match, the hosts, Suffolk, won their second match of the week, beating Hampshire 5.5-3.5.