Oaksway defeat relegation rivals Leeds in bid to avoid drop from Mizuno Premier League

Oaksway (dk blue/white) v Leeds (dk blue/blue) at Brierton Community Sports Centre, Hartlepool on Sunady.
Oaksway (dk blue/white) v Leeds (dk blue/blue) at Brierton Community Sports Centre, Hartlepool on Sunady.

Oaksway earned a vital victory in their fight for Premier League survival with a huge win over relegation rivals Leeds.

The Hartlepool club beat the Yorkshire team 61-51 in a hard-fought contest at Brierton Leisure Centre at the weekend.

The victory leaves Oaksway in third-bottom place but level on points with The Downs directly above them.

Player-coach Jill Foreman said: “It is a relief. Obviously both teams are fighting for their lives. It wasn’t pretty and it was a very had fought game.

“We were in front from the beginning but we were a little inconsistent in that, if we went a couple ahead, we let them back into it.

“But they fought really, really hard as you would expect. In the end we are just relieved to have got the win and the points”

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, in eighth, have three games to save their top-flight status – the club have never been relegated – starting at home to third-placed Tameside this Sunday.

That’s followed by an away trip at fellow relegation-threatened Worcester before the final game of the season at home to mid-table Downs.

Jill said: “We still have three crucial games to come and we have to look at putting a squad together for those matches.

“One win would avoid us finishing bottom and put us in the bottom two play-off, but we want to avoid that really. Two wins out of three should take us to safety.

“Two of the three games are at home, starting with Tameside this Sunday, so once again we are calling on our supporters to come along. I can’t emphasise enough what a good crowd could do for us.”

The coach praised the Oaksway team for their team effort in defeating bottom-club Leeds but singled-out a couple of individual performances.

Jill said: “Georgia Rowe is our tall shooter and she made a huge difference. I think she had the best game she has ever played for us.

“I think her scoring rate must have been about 90%, and we felt that everytime she got the ball she was going to score.

“We also had Lucy Johnson on court for us. She is an England U19 international, we got her on in the last quarter and she did very well too. But it was a great all round team effort.”

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 every game we play, if we don’t we’ll struggle to avoid the play-offs.

“But our future is in our hands – we have Worcester to play who are only two points above us.

“Two of our last three games are at home which is a big boost and we’ll be hoping to get big crowds for those matches.”