NETBALL REPORT: Oldham 64 Hartlepool Oaksway 39

GREAT GAME: Oaksway's Ellen Hirst. Picture by TOM COLLINS
GREAT GAME: Oaksway's Ellen Hirst. Picture by TOM COLLINS

OAKSWAY are looking to end the first half of their 2014-15 Premier League netball programme with back-to-back home wins.

The Hartlepool team suffered a not unpredictable defeat at Oldham on Sunday – the title favourites winning their eighth straight top flight match 64-39.

However, Oaksway gave it everything and are now relishing successive dates at Brierton Community Sports Centre against Hucclecote a week on Sunday and Academy on December 14.

Barbara Brown’s side have started the season well, especially following the upheavel of a summer of departures from the club.

They currently lie seventh in the table – two points above the drop zone.

“We’re desperate to keep Premier League netball in the town,” said player coach Jill Foreman who is not daunted by the fact they are up against two sides from the top end of the league.

“We won our last home game against Worcester Reds and the two we have before the Christmas break are both at Brierton.

“They are hard matches but ones we are looking forward to and ones we’re looking to get points from. That’s the aim.”

Oaksway picked up one point from their trip to Oldham.

The Lancashire outfit, packed with Super League talent, won with style – and comfort – but the Poolies at least had the satisfaction of being the highest opposition scorers at Oldham this season.

Oldham made a slick start, leading convincingly by the quarter-time mark though, to Oakway’s credit, they settled and performed well in the second session with teenage forwards Hollie Linighan and Ellen Hirst leading the way.

Oaksway were minus the unavailable Toetsie Kambatuku, but the teenage combination performed well against a powerful home defence.

Oldham pulled away again in the third quarter but Oaksway competed strongly in the last to ensure they returned with at least a point.

Hirst and Linighan shared the player of the match award.

Pushing them close was the team’s senior player, Melissa Sweeney, who made her first start of the season and rolled back the years with an excellent display.

“Oldham have a lot of Super League players and massive experience in their side,” said Foreman.

“But after a slow start, our girls settled and played some nice netball.

“The performance of the two youngsters was probably the highlight but the whole side played well.

“If we’re being brutally honest, getting a point at Oldham, given the calibre of their players, is not a bad result.

“There were plenty of positives, including having Melissa back in our side and playing so well.”

Oaksway: Leah Kennedy, Danielle Smith, Rebecca Neil, Natasha Hampshire, Melissa Sweeney, Hollie Linighan, Ellen Hirst. Subs: Vicky Burgess, Alex Rhodes