Hartlepool Oaksway’s fight for Premier League survival is going down to the wire

Premier Netball action between Oaksway (navy) v Tameside, played at Brierton Sports Centre, Hartlepool.
Premier Netball action between Oaksway (navy) v Tameside, played at Brierton Sports Centre, Hartlepool.

Oaksway’s fight for Premier League survival is going down to the wire with just two games left to decide their fate.

The Hartlepool club were defeated 51-58 by third-place Tameside at Brierton Leisure Centre at the weekend.

The loss leaves Oaksway in third-bottom place, one point behind Worcester Reds and The Downs who are directly above them in seventh and sixth place respectively.

The two teams are their remaining opponents, with Oaksway visiting The Reds on Sunday March 26 before the final league game at home to The Downs the following weekend.

Only the bottom club goes down automatically, with the two sides in eighth and ninth going into the relegation/promotion play-off tournament in May. Oaksway have never been relegated

Player-coach Jill Foreman said: “It was really disappointing to lose against Tameside and that’s really put us up against it now.

“There are five teams down there who are in the relegation fight and it looks like it is going to decided on the last day of the season.

“There is no team sure of relegation yet and they way the fixtures are I don’t think that the relegation and play/offs places are decided until the last game”

Oaksway now must prepare on saving their top-flight status, starting away at Worcester who they beat 44-40 at home in December.

Jill said: “We have to put togaether a strong squad for the trip to Worcester. They are a decent team and it will not be easy.

“When we beat them at our place you could see that they are a classy team, they are organised and know what they are doing. It is going to be tough.

“We have players involved in the county super league this weekend, so they’ll be busy. Hopefully, they will come through unscathed and be available for us”

The coach said the Oaksway team made too many errors in the defeat to Tameside but singled-out a couple of encouraging individual performances.

Jill said: “We just made too many errors in our passing ansd shooting and we were punuished by them for it

“They are very clinical, they seized on our mistakes and looked like they would score with every opportunity. we were ten down at half-time and struggled to ge back into the game

“Leah Kennedy was missing through injury and Tuaine Keenan was onlt able to play half the game.

“Natalie Connor and Sally Smith came into the team and played well but at the end of the day we just couldn’t compete with a team who are in the top three.”

Jill added: “The table is so tight there is a risk that we could finish bottom, but that is something we dare not even contemplate.

“We know we need something from both games we plays. Worcester are only one point above us. we need something from that game and then we’ll see where that leaves us.”