Phoenix Hockey Club’s ladies first team missed out on the chance to go top of Essex Women’s League division one as they lost 4-2 to leaders Southend and Benfleet.

It was the ladies’ first outing on their newly-relaid home pitch, which is in the same pink and blue colours as the London Olympics hockey pitch, but they were unable to christen it with a positive result.

Second-placed Phoenix had been lying one point behind their south Essex rivals at the start of the match and knew a win would propel them to the summit of the division.

However, they were unable to take their opportunity and Southend and Benfleet’s 4-2 win has seen them stretch their lead at the top to four points, while Phoenix stayed second.

Skipper Hannah Philp said: “We had a good first half and it was 0-0 at half-time, but we then had a catastrophic ten minutes when we conceded three goals.

“We threw everything forward looking for a way back and managed to get two goals, but it wasn’t enough in the end.”

It was Phoenix ladies’ first defeat after a run of 11 wins, with their only other loss this season coming against the same opponents.

Philp felt the latest one was a result that could end their hopes of winning the division one title this year, but Phoenix are still fully focused on regaining their place in the premier division.

She added: “I think it does really end our title hopes.

“I think we had to beat them on the day.

“Southend are a really good side and I can’t see them losing to anyone else so we’ll try to get promoted as the second-placed team.”