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Relegation all but sealed despite second victory

Haverhill Hockey Club have won their second game of the season in Division 3NW of the East Women’s Hockey League, but may have found another gear too late to salvage their league status.

The 2-0 home victory over basement club March Town on Saturday only gives their survival chances a shot in the arm if the planned demotion of four teams, as part of structural changes to the league, do not go ahead.

As it stands, they are 11 points adrift of safety with three fixtures – and nine points – remaining in the season to almost certainly face relegation to Division 4NW(S), where their second string are also in a bottom two spot.

HOCKEY - Haverhill v Saffron Walden ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (7586082)
HOCKEY - Haverhill v Saffron Walden ...PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (7586082)

But chair Tina Bunch refuses to become despondent about it. She said: “We’re looking at it as a positive, it’s no secret we have struggled this season so maybe a drop down is what we need. We are looking at relegation of both teams which is hard to take – we’ve never even been in Division Five.

“But it would be a good chance to give our youngsters more time to find their feet in adult hockey, which would do them a world of good – they have been thrown in at the deep end a bit this season.

“We’ve also found the travel commitment to be a factor, so a lower level for both teams would be good for our availability I think.

“It’s going to be a summer of reflection and consideration, whatever happens from here.”

The first team travel to Bunch’s ‘worst nightmare’ team in Cambridge University, a side renowned for their youth and fitness, on Saturday while the seconds host Cambridge Nomads II (2.30pm) after a slip week.

But scores from club captain Kim Thomas and Vicky Steed in their win over March has given the team some confidence ahead of the game.

Bunch said the club are already looking at their options, including the possibility of the second team withdrawing from competition to boost numbers in the first team.

“That’s seen as a slippery slope by some though,” Bunch continued. “So there’s a reluctance to do that.

“We are also considering the juniors entering a junior league, even though that has its own issues as our juniors have now had a season playing senior hockey.

“We have a lot to consider but currently the focus is on finishing strongly and it’s been nice to pick up a few wins at this stage, to keep the motivation up and get some payback for our hard work this season.”

She said it was unlikely the expansion of Divisions Three and Four, to accommodate the Suffolk Hockey League, will have an impact on 3NW as the teams due to join the EWL are from other areas of the East.

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