Whitley Bay Ladies relegated after defeat to Bristol Firebrands
With a disappointing final league position of ninth, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth Hockey Club's ladies' first team had to endure the end of season play-offs to retain their place in the National League.
Their opponents were Bristol Firebrands and Maidenhead, from Conference West and East leagues respectively, and with a draw in their play-off match the previous weekend, a win and three points was the only option for Whitley Bay.
Two weddings just one week and two days prior to Sunday’s match provided ample opportunity for team bonding before the first game against Bristol.
A number of supporters turned up to back the team.
Whitley Bay started well, performing in a calm and collected manner, pushing nerves aside and playing with conviction.
There were some early breaks from Charlotte Marwood and Emily Watkinson and Bay threatened Firebrand’s goal.
Unfortunately they could not capitalise on their chances and a quick counter attack from Bristol led to a short corner, which was closed down fantastically well by Cath Pendlebury.
Whitley continued to absorb some pressure, but despite some brave defending they went a goal down after 25 minutes, with Dayzee Booth scoring.
After an inspiring half-time team talk from player-coach Claire Dobison, Bay went out positive and determined to perform well and get the result they deserved.
They applied some effective pressure but could not find the back of the net.
A spell of pressure for Firebrands meant Whitley were chasing the ball, and even the fittest members of the team were struggling.
Firebrands took advantage and were able to stretch the pitch, using some excellent two touch hockey to get the ball around, and they scored a further four goals from open play.
The final score was 5-0, although this does mean Whitley have been relegated for this season, as they played valiantly and courageously right to the end.
With a tough season almost behind them they will begin to build confidence and aim for promotion from North Premier Division 2016-17.