Hartlepool United-Sheffield Wednesday in women’s premier league play-off final

Jess Dawson: Hartlepool United's forward was the league's top scorer
Jess Dawson: Hartlepool United's forward was the league's top scorer

Manager Andy Stuart hopes Hartlepool United Ladies can take advantage of their “bonus” promotion battle against Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.

Pools had been more than happy to have finished the North East Regional Women’s League (North) as runners up to champions Durham.

The Blues, making their debut in the division, lost just three of their 16 games.

But then came the news that a promotion play-off match had been instituted against the club who finished second in NERWFL (South).

Pools will take on Sheffield Wednesday at Wilberfoss Sports Ground, south-east of York, on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).

“The play-off was not planned,” said Stuart. “We finished our regular league programme and we were told, due to a reorganisation, that there would be a promotion play-off between the north and south runners-up.

“We’ve already had a fantastic season, so this match is a bonus for us.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for the club – I’m confident and hopeful that, if the girls play as they can on the day, we’ll have an excellent chance.

“I could not have asked any more of the squad this season – they have already done really well to get to where we are.

“But if we clinched back-to-back promotions, that would be fantastic.”

Sheffield Wednesday stand in their way – just as the Owls did in the 2005 League One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium. The Pools men had, of course, played them twice that season in the league.

But Wednesday’s women are something of an unknown quantity.

“The only comparison I’ve been able to make is that we beat Ossett Albion 7-1 in the FA Cup and they are in Wednesday’s league,” added Stuart. “Sheffield beat them by a similar score.

“We have a good relationship with Ossett, so I’ve got a little bit of info.

“We’ve trained well this week and we’ve had a few friendlies to stay match-sharp and we are now just looking forward to Sunday.”

Kick-off is 1pm, with the ground postcode YO41 5ND.