KNUTSFORD Hockey Club’s women believe a return to the top flight is back in their sights.

After several years in Cheshire Women’s League Division Two, and escaping relegation last season through a restructure, things are looking up at Knutsford Leisure Centre.

That’s despite a 4-1 home loss to fourth-placed Timperley in their final game of 2019.

They will enter the new year in fifth place and feeling optimistic that promotion at some stage over the next few years is a realistic aim.

They will face a severe test of their credentials when they visit Division Two leaders Bowdon fourths on the resumption of fixtures on Saturday, January 4, before tackling the current bottom three teams in a row.

Five successive wins in the middle of the opening period of this campaign enabled the side to gather momentum and put behind them a disappointing 2018-19 that was impacted by a fall in player availability.

“Last season we had a nightmare of a season. We were missing six players from the previous season, through the likes of pregnancies and injuries,” said captain Sarah Fielding.

“This season people have come back and we’ve got extra players coming in as well, so it just feels like a different atmosphere.

“We’d be really pleased to have more new players as well because a few years ago we had a second team but we had to disband due to not having enough players. The aim is to get one back up and running again.

“The competition we have for places now helps to make sure people are committed, attend training and are available.

“Last season when we were scraping for players, people could pick and choose and still knew they could get a game, whereas this season they have to commit a little bit more.

“Performance levels have gone up massively. We’re winning quite a few games this season. We won five in a row.

“I think the whole team has stepped up. The players that were around last season have all stepped up, and it helps having the good players around you.

Looking ahead, she said: “Our first game back is January 4, and there will be no training because Wednesdays are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day so it will be straight back in again.

“Most people try to keep fit, do extra running and gym, so hopefully we’ll be alright to hit the ground running.

“We’ve played in Division One before for a few seasons, which is one division higher. Division One would be good again in the next few seasons.”

In the picture, above, are, from left, back row, Amanda Rees, Susie Hough, Katie Price, Lucie Chadwick, Liz Ball, Gill Lunt; front row, Olivia Hope, Sarah Evans, Jess Flack, Lucy White, Georgia Allen, Sarah Fielding, Katie Welch.