Return to top flight is heaven sent for Angels

The Angels netball team
The Angels netball team
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Angels are back mixing it up with the best the Portsmouth Netball League has to offer – and they’re determined to stay there.

Captain Claire Smith’s side have returned to the premier division after suffering relegation to division one last summer.

That brief slide down the netball pyramid provided the side with the chance to rediscover their winning touch and confidence.

And that’s certainly what they did as Angels returned to the top flight at the first time of asking, losing only one game all season.

This new-found confidence was also transferred to the annual versatility tournament, where Angels proved worthy winners to cap a remarkable season.

Now the team’s remit is to consolidate their spot among Portsmouth’s elite – and with two wins and two defeats from their opening four games of the new season, they are already on target to obtain that goal.

Angels’ task, however, has been made somewhat harder, with centre Nicky England not available to play full-time due to work commitments.

Her consistency last term proved vital in division one and made up for her missing Angels’ last campaign in the premier division.

But as one door closes, another one opens, and replacement Rachael Pepper has certainly made the most of the opportunity presented to her at the heart of the court in England’s absence.

Subs Jodie Lawford, Nicky Davis, Fliss Parker, Anna Smith and Lymara Anderson have also stepped up to the plate, leaving Smith impressed with the players at her disposal.

‘Without these players we wouldn’t have won those games last season so everyone has played their part in our promotion,’ said Smith.

‘We have had the same team for a few years now and Jen Le Breton-Edis’ partnership in defence with Helen Jones just keeps getting stronger.

‘Lynsey Hayward is a great asset as she is so versatile.

‘She never knows what position she is playing until she’s handed the bib and she never moans.

‘Jayne Carter is known as the interception queen as she reads the game well and makes numerous tips while always remaining positive and vocal.’

With a potent shooting partnership of Smith and Lara Dunk, Angels certainly have the fire power to make their premier division return a long-term one. And with such a close bond off court as well, the team, which also competes in the top division of the Gosport League, has all the ingredients to have a successful season.

‘We have a lot of fun on court and we would never put each other down,’ added Smith.

‘We are friends foremost then team-mates and I think this is why we have had the same team for many years now as we all really enjoy playing together.’

n Angels are currently without a sponsor. So if you would like to link-up with team, contact Lara Dunk at