Looking to cap off a great season, Newark Ladies 1s narrowly missed out on a double celebration when they lost 2-1 to University of Nottingham Ladies 2s in the Notts Women's League Cup Final on Sunday.
With promotion sown up the previous week with an emphatic performance, Newark Ladies, sponsored by Bingham Ground Services, took to the field against a team they have drawn twice against in the league.
Playing in very warm sunshine, Newark were high in confidence and this showed in the first 10 minutes as they put the university side under lots of pressure.
Fantastic play by Hannah Coe was was rewarded with several penalty corners but the opposition comfortably dealt with the threats. This gave University a platform to build upon and they started to switch the pressure onto Newark. University moved the ball quicker and easier than Newark could and broke into Newark's goal circle to get a penalty corner. Whilst the first one was covered by the defence marshalled as ever by captain Katie Sandell and Kate Lambert, assisted by Jade Feavyour, Georgia Andrews and Megan Cocker, a second set piece was given and this time University scored.
Despite a large Newark crowd willing the team on, University continued to push for further goals and further penalty corners. Before half time they converted another penalty corner, again after repeated opportunities. Newark were on the back foot going into the break.
The half time team talk couldn't have come quick enough as the team sought to stem the University threat and provide some inspiration to come back in the second half.
The midfield of Dani Ashwell, Amy Crouch, Charlotte & Rosie Staniforth, Becky Wells and Coe, were working overtime to contain the University threat and create chances for Newark, but it was hard going in the sunshine.
Moving and quick passing was called for and the team responded well at the beginning of the second half, but with Millie Hill and Laura Donaldson being marked, the chances came few and far between.
With 10 minutes to go Newark did pull a goal back as Wells finished off in the circle, and this lifted the crowd and the team. Newark pushed for an equaliser but the tired legs and the hot weather combined to ensure it wasn't their day and University were able to finish the game as worthy victors.
Coach Arran Coggan said "Whilst today's result is disappointing, I told the team that they should not forget what a good season we have had. After being relegated we needed to bounce back and the team has done that. Promoted back into the regional league was the main goal.
"There have been ups and downs, and to win the league on goal difference was cutting it fine, but we have played some very good hockey, bonded well as a team and at the end of the day Newark were on top and that's what counts."
Newark Ladies 1s travelled to Nottingham for their final league match as they took on Manning hockey club at the weekend as they battled for supremacy in the Notts Women's Premier Division.
Needing only a point Newark had the upper hand following the cup final match a few weeks ago when they beat Manning 5-4. The match was evenly poised throughout the first 10 minutes but Newark slowly but surely started to gain the upper hand. The passing and the moving which have been key features at training all season really started to shine through for for the visitors.
This was especially true of youngsters Hannah Laughton and Rosie Staniforth, drafted in as several key players away on holiday. It was clear that these were the right decisions as both players were key influencers throughout the game.
Manning were quick counter attackers and central defenders Kate Lambert and captain Katy Sandell were up to the task and stood firm to stop any such attacks. As the first half continued Newark started to capitalise on uncharacteristically stand-offish defending from Manning, with more space and time available to them the visitors had opportunities to break the deadlock.
After several penalty corners Lambert came up from the back to place a sweet shot into the back of the net. Newark were on top and deservedly so. The final five minutes of the first half saw Newark have repeated penalty corners and opportunities at goal but found the Manning goalkeeper on top form.
The half time team talk was very much about continuing the pressure, passing and possession that Newark had demonstrated in the first half. Unfortunately the pressure was soaked up by the home side, sometimes on the lucky side, and as the clock tick down Manning had several opportunities from penalty corners which had Newark keeper George Barratt clearly worried.
From such a set piece Manning did manage to level the score but would it be it was too little too late? Newark pushed for a winner and nearly managed a second goal in the dying minutes of the match with Megan Cocker, the only member of the outfield not to score a goal throughout the season, finding herslrf in front of goal but unable to put any power behind the shot.
Thankfully the final whistle went shortly afterwards, the celebrations started and Newark Ladies 1s were able to add to the clubs tally of promoted champions for the 2016/17 season. Next year they will find themselves back in the Midlands league but not before the Notts Women's Cup Final this Sunday against University of Nottingham.
Newark Ladies 3's welcomed Worksop for their final match of the season. Missing coach Paul and 4 key players due to injury and holidays, Newark had to move players around, with Sara Jackson making her debut in goal.
Newark started out strong and played a game of possession for the first 10 minutes, with some excellent passing from Sue Birkett, Rachel Spolton and Emily Crisp in defence. The good play didn't last however and Newark started to become scrappy and lost their focus. The team seemed to struggle to keep structure without the more experienced players in the middle and up front, although Ann Crockett-McLean was giving instruction from the sidelines.
Worksop pushed up into Newark's half with some quick runs and big hits, but Zoe White and Louise Goodman helped ensure they didn't make it into the D. As midfield struggled to get the ball up for Maddie Horrocks and Laura McMunn up-front, Worksop made a break and took a strike to the right of the goal which chipped off Sue's stick to take them into the lead.
Newark's structure continued to crumble but some fabulous runs on the right from Gabby Lucas, in her first match from the 3's, helped keep the ball high until half time.
After some discussion, positions were changed around for the second half, with Yasmine Owen moving back into defence and Hannah Bond taking a turn in midfield. Sue was also moved up front as the voice of experience and Newark finally found some pace.
The teams were evenly matched and play moved back and forth, Tash Greswell working hard on the left wing. Newark secured a penalty corner but were unable to convert and as play continued, they started to tire. With 10 minutes to go, Worksop remained in the lead but a goal-mouth scrap in their D saw another penalty corner being awarded. Hannah stepped up to inject and a straight strike from Zoe rebounded but into a Worksop player. The successive short saw the ball slipped left to Rachel who hit it to Hannah on the left post, pinging it up and into the net to equalise. The resultant celebration was probably heard in Lincoln!
The last 10 minutes had both teams fighting hard and as Worksop were given a penalty corner as the final whistle blew, Newark were ready to battle to keep the score even. No fight was required though as Worksop's strike went wide of the post.
Despite the lack of a win, Newark finished the game in high spirits and congratulations were offered by Worksop for Newark's promotion as division winners.
Player Hannah Bond